Ukrainian Employment Law Considerations During Euro 2016


“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

That’s how the comparison of football worship and (even) life looks like according to the famous British football manager Bill Shankly. Giving due credit to those keen on football, below we will try to weigh and balance their eagerness for the game, on the one side, and their employment rights and obligations, on the other.

Vacation and holidays
Although football plays an important role in modern culture, the effective Ukrainian labour law does not prescribe any special rules for football fans. Therefore, the employer-employee relations will be governed by the general provisions of law.

The general approach to vacations is that the employer has to draft and keep the vacation schedule which is subject to approval by the trade union (if any). If there is such a schedule in place, then employees may get a day-off outside of the agreed schedule only subject to the employer’s approval. In the absence of such schedule, a vacation or a day-off is provided on terms “agreed between the employee and the employer” (Article 10 of Law of Ukraine No. 504/96-BP “On Vacations” dated 15 November 1996).

This year, during Euro 2016 we will celebrate the Constitution Day, a public holiday celebrated annually on 28 June (this year it falls on Tuesday). Moreover, the Government decided by its resolution to shift the working day of 27 June (Monday) to 2 July (Saturday), therefore, football fans will enjoy a series of holidays from 25 June (Saturday) to 28 June (Tuesday) and have time to watch matches of the Round of 16 taking place on these days.

Many matches are scheduled after 6pm, so employees may potentially conflict with the employer if required to work overtime. As a general rule, overtime work is prohibited in Ukraine. Employers may engage employees to work overtime: to perform works for national defence or public needs; to complete continuous works if their suspension may result in damages or losses; to carry out cargo-handling works; or to carry on the continuous work, if shift workers fail to take over.

On top of that, overtime work may not be performed without the consent of the trade union. The overtime work of each employee should not exceed four hours every two consecutive days and 120 hours per year. The employer should keep records of all overtime work given to employees.

Use of media during working hours
The Ukrainian legislation does not contain or express any legal restrictions on an employee’s use of social media either at work or when off duty. It is rare for employers to have a social media policy. As a matter of law, an employee must dedicate his or her working time to the fulfilment of job duties. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action, but in practice, Ukrainian employers rarely impose disciplinary sanctions for the use of social media at work.

However, it is worth mentioning the ECHR’s recent judgment of 12 January 2016 in Barbulescu v. Romania, which has been recently referred for review by the ECHR’s Grand Chamber. In this judgment, the Court found legitimate the disciplining of the employee for personal usage of the employer’s work equipment (Yahoo messenger). Such usage was expressly banned by the employer, hence the Court concluded that the employee could not have had a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. Therefore, employees may not use the employer’s technical means to watch football matches or online scores, only provided it is prohibited by the internal practices (if personal usage is generally allowed or at least tolerated, then such disciplining may constitute a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

Fan clothing
If employees want to show their support by wearing their favourite teams’ jerseys, the employers will have to tolerate this in some situations. The effective labour legislation does not provide for clothing requirements as terms of employment, however employers may establish such rules in their Internal Rules of Conduct or Code of Ethics. For instance, many “white collar” organizations have rules requiring employees to wear official style clothes. Violation of the Internal Rules of Conduct or the Code of Ethics may result in the employee’s disciplining. On the other hand, in the absence of such rules the employer may only give an informal warning or just tolerate the employees’ football fan looks.

Consumption of alcohol
The Ukrainian legislation strictly prohibits consumption of alcohol at work or appearance at work while intoxicated. Such actions may result in the employee’s disciplining or even dismissal. Apparently, the employer may not conduct any alcohol tests in the absence of the employee’s consent. The level of drunkenness is usually defined by an independent expertise, but it may also be evidenced by witnesses’ testimony. Therefore, documenting the fact of an intoxicated employee’s appearance at work is crucial for the purposes of further disciplining or dismissal.

Betting games
First of all, private gambling in different forms (including bookmaking) was banned by Law of Ukraine No. 1334-VI “On Prohibition of Gambling” dated 15 May 2009. Therefore, internal betting games may not only breach the internal rules, but also violate the administrative and criminal legislation. Currently, gambling is only allowed in the form of lotteries held by state-owned lottery operators. On top of that, Article 3693 (3) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine prohibits betting if it involves manipulation of game results. Hence, it is recommended for employers to neither allow nor tolerate any kind of betting with the use of the employer’s infrastructure.

The above rules were listed by us to help employers and employees comply with their rights and duties during such a big sporting event as Euro 2016. Employers should take into account their employees’ additional needs that may be caused by the tournament. It would be useful to communicate the basic rules (granting days-off, watching games at work, etc.) to employees enabling them to enjoy Euro 2016 with no harm to their job.

Published by: Ius Laboris, June 2016

Author: Oleksandr Melnyk


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