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No to the attempts by Yanukovych’s Government to cancel benefits for pregnant employees

Statement from the International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine” in protest at the proposals by the Government to introduce amendments to labour legislation enabling employers to dismiss pregnant employees

To   The President of Ukraine V.A. Yushchenko

  The Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada O.O. Moroz

  The Prime Minister V.F. Yanukovych

  The Minister on Family, Youth and Sport V.P. Korzh

  The Minister of Employment and Social Policy M.M. Paliyev

  The Prosecutor General S.M. Piskun

  The Human Rights Ombudsperson N.I. Karpachova

  National Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada

  The National Correspondent of the International Labour Organization in Ukraine V.I. Kostrytsa

The Coordinator of the UN Equal Opportunities Development Programme in Ukraine L.S. Kobylyanska


Statement from the International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine” in protest at the proposals by the Government to introduce amendments to labour legislation enabling employers to dismiss pregnant employees

The amendments in question are to Article 184 of the Code of Labour Laws “Guarantees on employment and prohibition of dismissing pregnant women or women with children”. According to this Article, “the dismissal of pregnant women or women with children under the age of three, single mothers with a child under the age of fourteen or a child with disabilities on the initiative of the owner or authorized body shall not be permitted excepting in cases of the total liquidation of the enterprise, institution, organization, when dismissal is allowed but where other work must be provided”.

By proposing to introduce a provision for dismissing pregnant women, the Government is violating women’s rights, and is also acting against Ukraine’s commitments in ratifying a number of international human rights documents, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which suggests that States apply a policy of positive discrimination in order to defend and safeguard women’s rights (Article 4). This step would also contravene Article 22 of the Ukrainian Constitution which states that “The content and scope of existing rights and freedoms shall not be diminished in the adoption of new laws or in the amendment of laws that are in force”

Women are in a worse position than men on the labour market. Employers, especially in the private sector, demand that women commit themselves to not become pregnant or even not get married. If it is found that a woman is pregnant, she may be dismissed without any explanation or compensation. This widespread, but latent practice is direct discrimination against all, but especially younger, women.

With this being the actual system in place, the granting of so-called “lawful” grounds for dismissing pregnant women will lead to a deterioration in the situation as far as their employment is concerned, with a subsequent lowering of their material wellbeing and that of their families and the children they are bringing up.

Insinuations about some kind of lack of discipline by pregnant women who should face the consequences under normal conditions is a smoke screen. No statistics on this are available.  However it is well-known that women hold on to their jobs, and there are only isolated incidents of their infringements of work discipline. These cases do not warrant such radical legislative changes.

It is not difficult to predict that the proposed changes will lead to a significant worsening in the situation with employment for women and to even greater infringements of their rights. These changes also contradict declarations about support for the family and demographic policy aimed at increasing the population of Ukraine, as well as statements about human rights being a priority for the present government officials.

The introduction of such important amendments to legislation which apply to a huge part of the Ukrainian population without prior discussion with civic organization, experts in the areas of human rights, gender policy and labour legislation, is a flagrant example of the lack of openness and transparency of government bodies in Ukraine, the ignoring of public opinion, and mainly, the disregard for the rights and legitimate interests of Ukraine’s working population.

We call on the Government, and the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy in particular, to abandon the idea of introducing amendments to the Code of Labour Laws which would worsen the position of women on the labour market.

Instead, we demand that strict control be carried out over employers in order to stop discrimination of women and other groups of society on the labour market, to resolve problems with discriminatory work advertisements which include restrictions according to gender or age, in contravention of Ukrainian law. We also call for work on forming and implementing real social policy.

Rather than abolishing benefits for pregnant women, let’s abolish them for officials and deputies!


President of the “La Strada – Ukraine” Centre

National Deputy K.B. Levchenko

11 May 2007

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