*Update 22.12.2022 EEAS wants to increase the number of staff present in Kyiv, pushing staff evacuated to Brussels to return for 2 weeks at a time, starting in January 2023. We have asked for clarification and flexibility in this.* Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (24.02.2022), colleagues in Kyiv are to return to being present in office starting from 31.10.2022. Local Agents (LAs) are provisionally required to be present four days per week and official (generally expatriate) colleagues are required to be present for a minimum of 2 weeks (we have asked for clarification of this part of the instructions, since the plan for presence suggests that the 2 weeks can also be teleworked). For context, teleworking in Ukraine and abroad was made available also for LAs by Admin decision (2022)20, initially for a period of 3 months.
Given that teleworking and presence are already ‘considered equivalent’ in the Working Time and Hybrid Working Decision (page 1) and the output and results achieved are comparable, Generation 2004 is concerned about this obligation to return to presence in the office when the post-invasion situation in Ukraine is escalating. The timing of this proposed return also raises the issue of reduced energy resources throughout Europe this winter. We understand that, while the situations of hospitals and transport fuel have improved, there is still no childcare available. Most schools have moved to online mode meaning children are at home and not going to school.
Generation 2004 is also concerned at the different approaches taken for different categories of staff when the political situation and level of danger are identical for all staff and any human being, independent of contract type. Are LAs to be exposed to a higher level of risk for little added value? Why the insistence on LAs being physically present?
We are aware of some LA resignations due to the requirement to return to Ukraine and we fully expect to see this number increase. During this difficult situation in Ukraine Generation 2004 calls for human measures that take into account the plight and different challenges faced by all colleagues rather than pushing for an inflexible approach that is unlikely to yield much additional benefit.
Generation 2004 requests that the administration to consider the following:
- maintaining flexibility for teleworking at any location in Ukraine;
- rather than requiring office presence on specific days of the week, only require presence when absolutely necessary;
- when possible, approve unpaid leave and special leave to the largest extent
We look forward to a positive reply to our requests and will update you with the response to our corresponding note.