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Ukraine's Language Law: Influence on businesses
Access the Ukrainian version: Закон про мови: наслідки для бізнесу
On 16 May 2019, the Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring the Functioning of Ukrainian Language as a State Language" (Law) was published. This Law introduces the effective mechanisms of implementation and application of the state language in all spheres.
We have analysed the Law and outlined the essential provisions that will affect businesses in Ukraine. In particular, the Law provides that:
- Websites and social network pages of companies that provide goods and services in Ukraine are required to be displayed by default in Ukrainian language. However, multilingual versions of web pages are allowed;
- In case of distribution of computer software with a user interface, such interface shall be made in Ukrainian, English or other official language of the European Union. If such programs are used by state authorities, the user interface shall be made only in the Ukrainian language;
- Employment contracts shall be concluded exclusively in Ukrainian. Their further translation is allowed by the Law;
- Information about goods and services shall be provided in Ukrainian. Such information can be duplicated in other languages;
- Customer service shall be carried out in Ukrainian. Upon the request of a customer it may be carried out in a different language;
- The language of public events, organized by public authorities, is Ukrainian. Exceptions are closed events and events for foreigners;
- Communication with state authorities, local government bodies, as well as state-owned enterprises and municipal companies, institutions, organizations (submission of inquiries, appeals, complaints, proposals, etc.) shall be conducted in Ukrainian. A foreign language can be used only in correspondence with foreign addressees;
- The Law does not provide for specific rules related to the language of primary financial statements. Thus, in this area, the existing legislation applies, according to which all primary statements, accounting registers, accounting, and other statements shall be prepared in Ukrainian; and
- Attorneys shall use the Ukrainian language in their work. Thus, in case of representation of the interest of the company in courts by an in-house lawyer that holds advocate’s certificate, such lawyer shall have sufficient knowledge of Ukrainian language.
Violating the provisions of the Law entails administrative liability. The amount of fines range is of UAH 1 700 (USD 65) to UAH 6 800 (USD 250) depending on the type of the violation (the amount in UAH indicated as of the date of publication). Penalties are imposed by yet to be established Commissioner for the Protection of a State Language or his deputies.
The Law comes into effect in two months from the day of its publication. However, some of its parts will come into effect gradually – from a few months to up to two years after the law enters into force.