• Serhiy SILCHENKO|ILF Law Firm

    Instead of promoting legal use of hired labor in Ukraine and adopting a new Labor Code, the state only tightened controls. This was one of the key trends in this area in 2018. Inspections are aimed at identifying unregistered employees, violations of payroll deadlines and failure to comply with wage-related state guarantees.

    The system is such that business usually uses personnel in accordance with the law that is why the inspections target medium-sized businesses and businessmen who find it difficult to use labor as prescribed by the law. There are several reasons for this: optimization of the tax burden on business, inability or unwillingness to keep personnel records and the archaic labor legislation that has been in effect since the early 1970s.

    Violation of labor law results in large fines, with Ukrainian employers having levied fines running to over USD 100 million in 2018. Most of it is currently being disputed by business in courts. This is what external legal consultants worked on last year, representing employers in court in disputes with regulatory authorities and antagonistic or problem employees. Talking of labor consulting, just like other lawyers, we have been hard at work to develop safe and flexible models of personnel management.

    As an alternative to employment contracts, civil contracts on the provision of services are already widely used in many areas of business like trade, public catering, IT and agriculture. This does not reduce the taxation of hired labor; businesses and employees pay the same taxes as in labor relations. However, the employer gets other benefits by establishing flexible terms of employment that ignore the guarantees granted by law to employees: vacation, sick leave or safety at work.

    Until Ukraine’s parliamentary elections are held, it is unlikely that there will be significant changes in labor legislation in 2019.

The renowned practice of Baker McKenzie in Kyiv enjoys the loyalty of remarkable international clients and local industry leaders. The team is instructed for conducting employment law audits, negotiations with trade unions and resolution of strikes, reductions in force (including mass layoffs), internal corporate investigations, employee privacy rights, data protection, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The firm regularly advises on employment aspects of corporate restructuring and acquisitions, and also successfully handles labor disputes. Given its extensive following among international investors, embassies and non-government organizations, the firm possesses a lot of experience of obtaining work permits for foreign nationals employed in Ukraine. Mariana Marchuk, one of the leading employment lawyers on the market, advises Ukrainian and foreign clients on labor and migration law. Lina Nemchenko acts as lead partner.

Vasil Kisil & Partners, a member of Ius ­Laboris, the largest global alliance of leading labor law firms, has a remarkable reputation for its dedicated practice. The firm has a broad offering, including preparation of collective bargaining labor agreements, drafting employment contracts, support in dismissal of personnel, as well as sophisticated court disputes concerning labor issues. In the recent caseload is contentious support of British American Tobacco including advising and developing termination scenarios, support in immigration issues, developing strategies for disciplining of employees, as well as day-to-day service on employment contracts, representation of BAT’s interests in court. The firm has also carried out comprehensive due diligence of HR documentation produced and stored at the Kyiv offices of Procter & Gamble, having developed and conducted significant restructuring of its trading unit. Practice head Oksana Voynarovska, partner, is a leading expert in the market. Valeriya Savchuk, counsel, has gained endorsement for her strong involvement in employment practice.

Sayenko Kharenko possesses its dedicated practice as labor and compliance team, often hired for sophisticated projects for the benefit of the flourishing client portfolio of the full-service law firm. On the advisory front the firm is busy handling employment agreements, termination and other relevant documentation required for hiring, dismissing and transferring employees. The team is known for its mediation offering. Notably, this past year the firm handled successful amicable resolution of several challenging labor disputes including employee dismissals. The team was also busy advising on Ukrainian employment and personal data protection laws implications on internal investigations. Dr. Svitlana Kheda, heading the firm’s labor and employment practice, is often referred for long-standing expertise and good practical involvement in mediation.

The traditionally well-versed employment team of Dentons represents management teams in connection with employment and benefits related litigation, corporate and government investigations, executive compensation and counseling projects, cross-border acquisitions and complex HR projects, litigating all employment-related claims. As part of a huge international network the team is preferred for mandates, including multiple jurisdictions, and comes frequently across M&A, restructuring and reorganizational initiatives and resulting employment law matters. The office advised Grand Solutions on complex labor and immigration law issues in connection with the project on building the fourth metro line in the Ukrainian capital. Some selected clients are the Salvation Army, Management Sciences For Health Inc., JoinUP. Volodymyr Monastyrskyy, partner, combines labor knowledge with extensive corporate law practice.

The full-service law firm Asters offers an entire spectrum of employment matters, often acting as a standalone practice and in cooperation with other teams in multidisciplinary ­projects. The firm consistently supports Ukrainian subsidiaries of multinational corporations on employment matters in the course of their operational activities, hiring and dismissing managers and personnel, occupational safety, data protection matters, obtaining work and residence permits for foreign employees, etc. The firm regularly represents clients in complex employment litigation. The practice is overseen by two partners, Armen Khachaturyan and Svitlana Chepurna. Recently promoted counsel Inesa Letych is present across key projects and visible on the market.

Labor and employment at the Ukrainian law firm ADER HABER was transformed into a standalone practice, including substantially broad range of services. In particular, risk assessment during hiring, transfer and dismissal of personnel, assisting in international mobility of executive personnel and compliance, lay-offs and peaceful settlements, collective bargaining agreements, strikes and trade unions, employment agreements, labor disputes and disciplinary proceedings. The firm has worked on employment aspects of transactions; in particular of a large M&A deal with Alfa-Bank and Ukrsotsbank. Among recent highlights is a comprehensive GR-consulting and preparation of GR-strategy for the Ukrainian division of a multinational IT company, within the provision of legal support of a company under economic sanctions. The firm demonstrated a busy caseload of labor disputes. The team’s clients include Nestle Ukraine, Inditex Group, AVK Company, MERX (Zhytomyr Furniture industrial complex), Alfa-Bank, Technocom. Tetyana Ivanovych, counsel, runs the practice together with its private clients offering.

Ante Law Firm enhances its labor offering providing both advisory and litigation. The firm is known for its experience in aviation and growing presence in pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. For example, this past year the team performed a full audit of labor contracts for several global pharmaceutical companies and resolved numerous complicated dismissal issues. Furthermore, the firm handled labor disputes between top managers and employers and succeeded in labor litigations; resolved complicated employment issues for international airlines; advised on outstaffing matters in connection with well-known ongoing criminal proceedings. Being regularly chosen by top airlines, the firm has a well-rounded experience on their employment queries in Ukraine. Ante provides permanent assistance to Qatar Airways headquarters HR team on Ukrainian labor law issues, including establishing of labor relations, drafted labor contracts for all staff in Kyiv and Boryspil. Andriy Guck, partner, is the primary figure.

The labor and employment practice of Arzinger advises on cooperation with trade unions, collective agreements, transfer of employees, taxation, labor disputes. The team often closely works with the compliance team, being involved in sensitive projects related to top-management and personnel. The sector breakdown of clients encompasses banking and financial services, technology, pharmaceuticals, energy. Pavlo Khodakovsky, partner, together with Alesya Pavlynska, senior associate, are the core practitioners.

Being a national heavyweight for corporate and M&A work, AVELLUM is highlighted for its seamless employment advisory coverage of large multijurisdictional deals, including business spin-offs. The firm often acts for clients on sensitive matters related to the dismissal and appointment of top management, cross-border transfer of employees. In one recent highlight the team advised ClinTec International on employment issues related   to structuring of employment relationships, hiring employees, and drafting of employment agreements; Nordcurrent, a Baltic game development company, on various employment matters related to its acquisition of Blam! Games Studios. Data protection, data transfer issues and GDPR are areas of recent focus. Clients encompass the pharmaceutical, IT, agribusiness, FMCG and e-commerce, banking and finance, manufacturing and machinery sectors. Mykola Stetsenko, co-managing partner, is in charge of the practice.

СMS is represented through two offices in Ukraine, both rendering labor and employment law offering. CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang regularly obtains employment instructions out of its transactional assignments and as part of legal support of its international clients’ presence in Ukraine. Over the previous year the firm represented Scatec Solar on various employment and IP law matters in connection with planned M&A deals and employee transfers. Olexander Martinenko and Olga Belyakova are the lead partners. CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz advises on labor law matters in connection with corporate restructuring and day-to-day operations of clients, often rendering advice on employment contracts and corporate governance, compliance, transfer of personnel, regulatory matters. Maria Orlyk, partner, leads the practice.

DLA Piper is a preferred legal counsel for many Ukrainian branches of multinational corporates, handling ongoing advisory support and transactional work that derives from M&A deals. The firm’s team advises on hire, terminations, corporate policy, employee transfers and localization projects. The team traditionally has a strong reputation for delivering on-demand advice working for global clients and represents top local, national and international businesses like Adobe, Pfizer, Jabil, Inchcape Shipping Services, Kyivstar, Boeing, etc. The practice is headed by Margarita Karpenko, managing partner, who is especially well-rounded for multijurisdictional projects and sensitive exits.

Eterna Law advises on employment matters related to top management and personnel of both Ukrainian companies and subsidiaries of foreign clients. The firm has an increased work related to the employment of foreigners, employees transfer and relocation. Headed by partner Oksana Kneychuk the dedicated team recently advised a range of Chinese companies on registering of legal entities in Ukraine and obtaining residence permits for their lawyers.

EUCON Legal Group renders advisory for clients focusing on structuring employment and business migration in Ukraine and Poland. The firm operates through two offices — Kyiv and Warsaw, handling employment permits, employment contracts, trade unions and representation in disputes. Most recently the team provided support to LIMES international tax + expat regarding the legal stay of the company’s employees in Ukraine; Green Peaks Technology, Featon, Mishel and other companies were advised on staff matters to Ukrainian investors in Poland. The Kyiv office maintains an active employment litigation track record. Yevhen Petrenko is at the forefront of dispute work. Andrii Romanchuk has overtaken guidance of the firm’s practice in Warsaw.

EVERLEGAL is a sector focused law firm advising clients in the IT, energy and agricultural sectors. The rapidly growing employment practice includes assignments for elaborating optimal structures for personnel engagement, work permits, visa and residency matters. Given the steady workflow it enjoys from corporate reorganizations and restructurings, the team also advises on personnel transfers and mass redundancies of staff. The firm is particularly strong in contentious matters associated with the release of top management. In 2018 the team had two high-profile cases involving termination of top management of Ukrainian subsidiaries of large global corporations. Yevheniy Deyneko, managing partner, leads the employment practice. Two partners, Andriy Olenyuk and Oleksandr Ruzhytskiy, regularly oversee subsequent projects.

In 2018 EY Ukraine won a number of prominent projects on labor law advisory for state enterprises. The global firm is particularly referred for its broad based advisory offering, and has recognized strength in tax aspects of employment matters. The Ukrainian team continues to render labor law advisory services in different industries, where aerospace, transport and broadcasting are among new ones. The practice is overseen by Olga Gorbanovskaya, Albert Sych and Halyna Khomenko.

GOLAW has a focused practice centered on resolution of disputes related to dismissal, reinstatement, payment of salaries and compensation for non-pecuniary damages. The firm’s recent caseload included counseling the largest manufacturer of denim in Europe on various labor law and employment issues; representing the interests of government institutions in disputes over protecting honor, dignity, and business reputation. Given its recognized strength in tax, the firm often advises on the tax consequences of labor contracts. Clients include Mercator, Medical, Pfizer, Oriflame, Bogomolets National Medical University. Two partners, namely Valentyn Gvozdiy and ­Kateryna Manoylenko, oversee the practice.

Enjoying a high level of client retention Gramatskiy & Partners renders seamless employment advisory and litigation assistance. The team regularly supports clients on employment structuring and dismissal matters, compensations, privacy, tax, social benefits, outstaffing and safety at work. The firm possesses long-term and diverse expertise in complicated labor law disputes. The firm has a strong following of construction and engineering companies, as well as IT clients. The practice is led by Mykola Voitovich.

ILF Law Firm, a Ukrainian firm with offices in Kyiv and Kharkiv, stands out for employment litigation and provides consultations on structuring employment relations, support of inspections, individual incentives development and litigation. The core strength of the firm is representing employers in labor disputes, and is known for precedent setting practice. As a result of ongoing reform in Ukraine, healthcare projects were a substantial part of its employment advisory workload. BASF and Oschadbank are on the firm’s client roster. Serhiy Silchenko is a practice-dedicated partner focused primarily on labor disputes.

Ilyashev & Partners is known for representation in labor disputes, as well as advisory work. The firm’s experience encompasses collective bargaining agreements, trade unions, dismissals, employment of foreigners and terminations. Its enviable client roster includes Coca-Cola Beverages Ukraine, Hempel, Suntech Innovation, UNIC, Al Ghurair Group. Mikhail Ilyashev is the lead partner. Leonid Gilevich is one of the key practitioners.

Marchenko Partners advises clients on internal policies, employment and termination strategies. The team is often instructed to support employment aspects of corporate deals, labor contracts, white-collar matters, staff outsourcing. The practice also advises on confidentiality, intellectual property protection and non-compete matters. The firm advised one of the biggest Ukrainian furniture producers and exporters on its legal relations with an industry trade union and relevant labor relations with employees. Notable clients take in British Airways, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Home Group, Eli Lilly, Morgan Furniture, and Vilomix Holdings. Lead partner Oleksandr Aleksyeyenko splits his time between competition, IP and employment practices.

Wolf Theiss is mandated for M&A and corporate restructuring projects, with subsequent coverage of employment aspects, and supports day-to-day requests of clients in Ukraine. Its client list includes IT, telecom, life sciences, engineering, real estate and trading companies. In 2018 the team advised A1 Telekom Austria with respect to its potential acquisition of one of the largest Ukrainian telecommunications companies, including complicated employment due diligence; assisted the large Chinese electronics company on employment aspects related to setting up an R&D center in Ukraine; the Ukrainian subsidiary of the large international insurance company on employment issues related to the dismissal of its top official. Olga Ivlyeva heads the practice.

Attorneys’ Association Gestors maintains a comprehensive offering for its existing clients seeking employment advice. The firm acts for PJSC Donetskoblgaz on conclusion of fixed-term contracts with all the heads of its subsidiaries and advises on reprimands and dismissals. Other key clients include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and McDonald’s Ukraine. Andriy Tsvyetkov is the main contact.

With an extensive portfolio of international clients, Jeantet Ukraine advises on employment of foreign employees, trade unions and collective bargaining agreements, redundancy, social benefits plans. Clients encompass renowned French companies, in particular Credit Agricole and L’Oreal. Most recently the practice team supported SOKA in negotiations with trade unions new collective-bargaining agreements and internal regulations for three Ukrainian subsidiaries; Saint Gobain Construction Products Ukraine on dismissal of a top manager. Ilya Tkachuk, local corporate and M&A partner, is highly experienced in this practice1.

KM Partners advises on a wide range of employment issues, both contentious and non-contentious. The key services include: collective bargaining agreements, dispute resolution, support during ­employees dismissal, audits, issues regarding outsourcing services, obtaining work permits. ­Alexander Shemiatkin is the lead partner.

Legal Alliance Company offers labor and employment advice for pharma and healthcare companies, who are key clients. The labor practice has been busy in line with ongoing corporate restructuring in the pharmaceutical market, as well as M&A and decrease in the activity of foreign companies. The firm advised on layoffs, redundancy and employees transfer. Selected clients include Boehringer Ingelheim, Contrad Swiss, Valeant, KRKA, Polfa (Adamed), Servier, Alvogen, Astellas, Jadran, Glenmark, Meda. Illya Kostin is in charge of this practice.

NOBLES, a local law firm with significant retention of European clients in its portfolio, ensures employment queries of their subsidiaries in Ukraine. The advice is usually essential in expansion projects supported by the firm. Most recently the firm advised Ivoclar Vivadent AG on various employment matters in the course of opening of its representative office in Ukraine. The list of active clients also includes H&M, BayWa, Beam Suntory, OKI, Fujitsu, Intelity, Billa. Volodymyr Yakubovskyy, Alexander Weigelt and Tatiana Iurkovska are the key figures.

The employment practice of Law Offices of OMP has a strong industry focus on pharmaceuticals. The firm has been involved in more than 20 transformations and labor audits for foreign international and transnational companies. The team reports on the development of more than 100 labor protocols, internal personnel documentation, labor agreements; provided legal support on dismissal of top managers in CIS countries, as well as wholesale redundancy. The recent experience included employees transfer, obtaining work permits for foreign citizens and labor disputes. Igor Ogorodniychuk and Mykola Orlov are the lead partners.

Peterka & Partners renders advisory for its clients on various labor law issues, including work permits, change of director, termination of labor relationships, transfer of employees, etc. The firm’s client list includes the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Kyiv, KRKA, Nutreco, Sioen Industries; Steelcase, T Machinery, ACO Industries, Bioveta, Fast Global Solution, HSH Chemie, Sirap-Gema, etc. Latest deals include providing comprehensive advice to Mammoeton entering the Ukrainian market, including employment matters. The core contact is Taras Utiralov.

SDM Partners employment team has been advising on both drafting employment agreements and litigation. The dispute team was hired by a market leading company involved in the manufacturing and application of innovative lighting solutions, for representation in labor litigation, initiated by a former top manager who challenged the fact that he was dismissed. Serhiy Dzis, partner, is in charge of the practice.


1 In April 2019 he joined INTEGRITES as a partner.