As the Russian-Ukrainian conflict drags on, businesses worldwide are feeling the effects. Many individuals and businesses, both inside and outside war zones, could be experiencing the repercussions of war for the first time. This presents the need for an employer’s guide for dealing with the crisis.
If they haven’t already, businesses in the US will soon experience the ripple effects of wider immigration possibilities. This, in turn, can lead to potential workforce conflicts and even cyberthreats. If any of your employees have ties to Ukraine, you owe it to them to show sympathy and provide supplies.
When it comes to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, what should American companies do? Here is an employer’s guide to this international crisis.
1. Get Ready for the Great Russian-Ukrainian Migration
While the Russian-Ukrainian war is a European issue, the resulting refugee crisis could affect your workplace. War, sanctions, destruction of infrastructure, and a faltering economy are causing one of the greatest worker displacements in this generation.
Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to neighboring countries. In addition, sanctions on Russia’s economy are leading many inhabitants to hunt for work in the West.
2. If You Work in Ukraine or Russia, Relocate
Businesses in crisis zones may need to temporarily relocate staff and operations. If you have operations in either of these nations, immediately contact your International Law counsel to determine the next actions.
3. Consider Using Migrants in Your Business
Not operating in these areas? Prepare for an influx of foreign candidates and probable workplace immigration concerns. Refugees and asylees, many seeking jobs, will likely flood into the US in the coming weeks and months.
For example, Ukrainian residents not working in a specialty occupation using H-1B visas may look for work in your business. Additionally, those with exceptional talent eligible for an O visa might also apply for work with your firm. This problem may benefit tech firms and other organizations seeking employees with higher education.
In response to Russia’s deliberate aggression on Ukraine, Ukrainians have been driven to seek asylum in other nations. Further, Homeland Security just gave Ukraine Temporary Protection Status or TPS for 18 months. This is according to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
The protection program allows migrants from certain countries to lawfully live in the US for up to 18 months. During that time, TPS holders can work and travel with no threat of deportation.
Individuals eligible for TPS for Ukraine must have been in the US continuously since March 1, 2022. Those attempting to enter the US after March 1, 2022, will not receive TPS. In addition, Ukraine’s 18-month designation will take effect when they publish the Federal Register notification.
Applicants for TPS must undergo a vetting process that includes a criminal background check and check for links to terrorist groups.
4. Contact Local Refugee Agencies
You may wish to work with your immigration attorney to create a plan that will benefit your organization. However, at the same time, you can be addressing the migrant dilemma.
Several refugee agencies operate directly with the US Department of State. The State Department’s refugees are properly vetted and have work authorization. In addition, they are actively seeking jobs.
Therefore, if you want to hire refugees, contact local refugee agencies and their affiliates to coordinate the hiring process.
5. Modify Your Home Response to a Global Crisis
The current workforce is more willing and able to address global concerns and events than ever before. Just a cursory look at social media shows humanitarian activities, support messages, and analysis of the Russian-Ukrainian battle.
Your workforce may be more tied to this war than any other in history. This, in turn, will result in increased involvement, high emotions, and mental health pressure.
6. Determine Direct or Indirect Involvement
You must prepare yourself to accommodate employees who have family members in or near conflict zones. Expect employees to ask for leave to help family members or to help with humanitarian efforts.
A recent rally by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to recruit overseas troops may soon see employees requesting leave to fight. To execute such requests, you should review your paid time off, paid sick leave, and other leave policies. Further, refresh your memory on protected military leave rules, and be sure to check with your employment lawyer if necessary.
7. Review Workplace Complaint Policies
Personal perspectives on the conflict will undoubtedly leak into the workplace and cause complications. This is especially true in today’s social media-driven society. A message chain or tangible articles can demand that your organization cut links with businesses in connection with the issue.
Therefore, you should review the National Labor Relations Act and the basic principles regulating political expression in the workplace. This should be done whether or not your employees are unionized. Certain policies or responses to complaints or requests may violate Sections 7 and 8 of the NLRA.
If you or your management receive a war-related complaint, you must know how to respond. Additionally, certain states may have laws protecting employees from political discrimination. Therefore, consult your lawyer before taking extreme disciplinary action for war-related workplace grievances.
Finally, whether or not you take a position on the topic, it is advisable to review your workplace speech. In addition, it’s wise to revamp your political activity policy to reflect recent developments and guarantee uniform application.
8. Plan for Mental Health Impacts
As this battle continues, you may see more complaints of mental health issues. A brief reminder to employees about Employee Assistance Program counseling and other perks might help firms with current EAPs. Those without an EAP should make a plan to address mental health concerns. This helps to maintain morale and a healthy workplace during times of tension.
9. Protect Digital Assets From Cyber Attacks
In addition to addressing the effects of war on physical and mental assets, companies must also protect their digital assets. Businesses worldwide need to be ready for data breaches. These issues are even more prevalent now, due to the possibility of cyberattacks and the fragility of the internet network.
Image Credit: Katie Godowski; Pexels; Thank you!