Warsaw, Poland, 26 June 2023 — More than a half of Ukrainian respondents in Poland declared they had been asked to work below the minimum wage in Poland, reveals a new survey published by United for Ukraine in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The survey is part of the social impact campaign “Know your rights.”
As the war in Ukraine has no end in sight, people who have found safety in Poland report that securing a sustainable source of income remains one of their primary concerns today. 41% of respondents from Ukraine, with the majority staying in Poland now, claim that they have experienced a situation when the employer asked them to work without a pre-signed contract. 59% feel that due to their nationality they are earning less money than their colleagues in the same position, or with the same scope of work.
Alan Moseley, IRC Country Director in Poland, says:
“86% of the IRC’s survey respondents admit they are facing challenges when trying to secure employment in Poland. This is a concerning number which shows that the international community and national actors need to ramp up their support to help people who have fled the war and are trying to rebuild their lives in Poland in becoming confident job seekers.
“Raising awareness and empowering refugees on the labour market through providing information about their legal rights and obligations is one side of the story. The other is investing in skill-building and encouraging employers to increase employability of refugee talent.”
Respondents list a lack of sufficient language skills or an unrecognised diploma or qualification as the most common challenges they face entering the labour market, and they often take jobs unrelated to or under their capabilities. Among other challenges, they mention job descriptions with false promises or a work schedule that differs from the agreed one, such as night shifts, which combined with the lack of affordable childcare, can pose insurmountable barriers to entering the labor market. Several people also mentioned salary delays as their situation.
Viktoriia Liepina, IRC’s Livelihoods Officer, working in the Integration and Support Centre “One Step to Employment,” adds:
“Every day, I talk with our clients, people from Ukraine searching for jobs. I see how important it is that they understand what rights they have. But it is also about exercising your right and knowing how to do it.
“The other day I was talking with a client in the centre and she told me she was an engineer in a factory in Ukraine. She went to the labour office just after her arrival to get help finding employment. They offered her a job, but it was physical, too hard for her. She had to carry heavy things all day. She had to resign due to her health condition and working hours. She came to “One Step to Employment” to learn more, get support, and rebuild her confidence. Psychosocial skills training, Polish language classes, or training about the legal landscape help her to do so, so she can be empowered to look for a better future.”
The IRC’s campaign “Know your rights”aims to increase awareness about employees’ rights among Ukrainian refugees in Poland, sensitise them about the specificity of the Polish labour market, build their confidence during the job search and boost employability, and has already reached more than 300,000 people.
The campaign provides essential information on where to search for services, what types of contracts exist in Poland, employer’s obligations, as well as useful resources and contacts to gain additional information or legal assistance from partners IRC works with. The number of Ukrainian and Polish opinion leaders who got involved in the project shows how crucial the subject matter is for the Ukrainian community. The IRC is working with YouTube programme Prizma Pofigizma, with thousands of viewers listening to the interviews with the lawyer Julian Hoffman, psychologist Zlata Gromova and job counselor Marta Kolesnytska, influencers like Natasha Kalinina or Arevik Arzumanova or top tier Ukrainian media: delo.ua, bit.ua and New Voice (nv.ua).
About the survey
- The survey was published on United for Ukraine channels on 26-27 May. The questionnaire contained five closed questions and three open questions.
- 800 people responded to the survey. 58% of respondents put the country of current stay in Poland, 28% stayed in Ukraine, and 14% in other countries.
- Support and Integration Centre “One Step to Employment” for the refugees from Ukraine but also others who struggle to find stable employment was opened in Poznań and Katowice by Foundation Innovation and Knowledge in partnership with International Rescue Committee. The centre offers various services for refugees from Ukraine, among others: Polish language courses, vocational training, legal assistance, job-matching activities, and others. All of that was to provide the best opportunities and support in integration and to rebuild their lives for those who were forced to flee the war.
The IRC's work in Poland and Ukraine
The IRC launched an emergency response to the war in Ukraine in February 2022, working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. In Poland, we are providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, improving access to legal assistance and providing a variety of tailor-made protection services, including safe spaces for women and children.
Responding along the entire arc of the crisis, we are responding in Ukraine and Moldova, and running activities targeting Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece and the UK.