On Friday 25 February, the Department of Justice confirmed that in order to allow Ukrainian people who want to seek safety here do so as quickly and easily as possible - visa requirements were being waived for all Ukrainians who travel to Ireland. In a related move the department has now added Ukraine to its list of non-visa required nationalities. Before the new measures a Ukrainian national would have needed a visa for any stay in Ireland longer than 90 days.
An FAQ published by the Department of Justice on 10 March addresses arrangements for Ukrainian Citizens and their Family members wising to travel to Ireland. It indicates that on arrival in the state or shortly thereafter the individual will be provided with a letter from the Minister for Justice confirming that they are a beneficiary of Temporary Protection in Ireland under section 60 of the International Protection Act 2015. Those granted temporary protection in Ireland will also receive a PPS number.
Inevitably, there will be employees in Ireland who will be impacted because they are Ukrainian, or because they have family, friends, or colleagues in the country. In supporting employees, employers could:
- Consider, where possible, offering flexibility around working hours /project deadlines to enable staff to maintain regular contact with family/friends in Ukraine.
- Consider requests for special paid leave.
- Temporarily suspend any prohibition on use of personal devices in the workplace where employees in this group are concerned that they may miss communications from or about loved ones caught up in the conflict.
- Be prepared to provide compassionate support if staff are directly affected by bereavement or family displacement as a result of the conflict.
- Remind employees of any Employee Assistance Programme in place.
Employers should also be aware that even people who have no particular connection with Ukraine, may be finding the media coverage of the conflict distressing and difficult to cope with, coming as it does after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mental health challenges this created for some workers.
During times of crisis, it is important to reach out to staff and let them know support is there, should they need it. Options for supporting employees who may be experiencing anxiety/ heightened levels of anxiety connected with the conflict /fears of a global conflict include:
Commit to taking a compassionate approach to employees during this time.
- Create a psychologically safe environment for workers to openly discuss any feelings of anxiety or fear.
- Educate line managers to recognise signs of distress in colleagues (see SFA’s Workplace Wellbeing Guides).
- Provide support for managers and remind them to check in with their teams.
- Remind workers about the resources available to them such as, where applicable, the company’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) / Occupational Health Service and/ or professional help from organisations offering relevant assistance.
- Remind employees about the company’s dignity at work / anti-discrimination policies. Make it clear that discriminatory behaviour or dehumanising language about other nationalities will not be tolerated and may result in the disciplinary policy being invoked.
- Regularly review the situation and make adjustments to the company’s support measures as necessary.
- Increase communication to ensure workers are aware of the resources available to them.
Lastly, employers can play an important role in addressing any conflict that may arise by reiterating and highlighting the organisational values and/or of codes of conduct and professional courtesy that are embedded in equal opportunities and Diversity and Inclusion policies.
For further specific employment advice, members can contact Emma on email@example.com or call 01 6051668