FRA: 30% of displaced Ukrainians report exploitation at work

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A new report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) called ‘Fleeing Ukraine’ captures the first-hand accounts of around 14,500 people who fled the war in Ukraine and settled in the EU.

The EU’s rapid activation of EU Temporary Protection Directive allowed people fleeing the conflict to quickly settle and to work, travel and access services across the EU. However the FRA survey shows that practical difficulties remain and that 30% of the interviewed Ukrainian displaced persons reported to have been exploited at work. See findings reported:

  • Language: Although 23% attend language courses, not knowing the host country’s language is the main reason people drop out of education, do not work or struggle to get healthcare. As a woman in Germany told us: “It is very difficult to be in a country where you do not understand and do not speak the language. This is a very big problem in solving many issues.”
  • Housing: Although 59% pay for their housing, they often have to share facilities, such as a toilet or kitchen. Many lack privacy or a quiet space for their children to study.
  • Education: 59% of children attend education online with a Ukrainian school or study on their own with material or support from Ukraine.
  • Work: Only 33% have a paid job and 33% of women do not work because they need to care for children, or elderly/ sick relatives. 48% say that their new job was below their level of education and 30% say they were exploited at work.
  • Cost of living: 79% face difficulties in making ends meet.
  • Health: 49% feel downhearted and depressed since coming to their host country. 49% of young children have difficulty sleeping and/or concentrating.

As for the reported exploitation, the survey asked respondents aged 16+ who had worked since they fled Ukraine whether they had experienced exploitation at work. Overall, 16% mentioned having to work very long hours and 10 % stated that they had been underpaid or not paid at all. About 8 % said that they could not communicate freely with other workers or anyone else. The same proportion (8 %) said that they had worked without a contract or with a contract that did not cover all working hours. In general, men mentioned experiencing exploitative conditions more often than women. Not being allowed to communicate freely is an exception to this trend. In addition, people who had worked without a written employment contract were more likely to have experienced other forms of labour exploitation than people who had one.

The survey ran from August to September 2022 in Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

Please see here for full report.