On 24 February 2022 Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine prompting a crisis that has seen over 7.7 million people flee Ukraine, with a further eight million displaced internally. As of 14 October 2022, a total of 20,591 Ukrainians had arrived in Scotland. You can find more details on the Scottish Parliament Information Centre website.

Arrivals through the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine) do not have formal refugee status but do have the right to work in the UK.

The recruitment of Ukrainian nationals is an option that service providers may wish to consider as a mutually beneficial arrangement. Social services are experiencing a crisis with regards to recruiting and retaining a workforce of adequate size and experience, particularly as recruiting staff from within a local geographical area is proving to be increasingly challenging. Ukrainian nationals are seeking to integrate into our society, and many have valuable skills and experience that can be used in social service settings.

This guide provides employers with some general guidance on international recruitment, as well as links to more detailed information specific to the recruitment of Ukrainian nationals.

Legal status, visas and identity documents

People arriving from Ukraine are entitled to the same employees’ rights as everyone else in the UK.

Ukrainian nationals who have already arrived in the UK will have probably been granted a visa under one of the UK government’s Ukraine Visa Schemes.

These schemes grant the individual the right to stay in the UK for up to three years and to enter employment. You can find more information on the UK Government website.

Click on each row below to learn more.

During March 2022, the UK Government introduced new visa routes to allow persons affected by the war in Ukraine to come to the UK. You can offer them full time, part time and voluntary work.

Introduced on 4 March 2022, the Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members in the UK.

The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme was introduced on 18 March 2022 and allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The UK government also allowed Ukrainians already in the UK to apply for extensions to stay longer via the Ukraine Extension Scheme. Under this scheme they can live, work and study in the UK if they’re Ukrainian or the close family member of a Ukrainian.

If a Ukrainian job applicant is already in the UK, you will not need to become a sponsor as they will have already been granted a visa. However, if a Ukrainian applicant is not already in the UK, it is possible to sponsor them, but to do so under one of the Ukrainian visa schemes you must be able to provide accommodation for them for a minimum of six months.

As of 15 August 2022, over 115,000 Ukraine Scheme visa holders had arrived in the UK. They should all have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) that confirms their status and their permission to work and to access public funds.

As an employer you still must do an online check of an applicant’s right to work.

You can find more guidance for businesses offering work to people from Ukraine on the UK Government website

If you would like to offer employment opportunities, you can complete the vacancy information questionnaire, so, the Home Office can understand more about your offer. Once you return the questionnaire to, the National Employer and Partnership Team in the Department for Work and Pensions will contact your organisation within five working days to discuss the roles available. Job opportunities will then be shared across the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Jobcentre Plus network and with the Refugee Employment Network (REN), a charity which works with organisations across the UK to support refugees into work.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) is also working with local councils, partner organisations (including the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)) and communities to help Ukrainians integrate into Scotland’s community. They have employment advisors who can provide help and guidance to individuals and employers.


As standard assurance checks may be difficult to achieve, you should take a proportionate and risk-based approach.

The Care Inspectorate and the SSSC recognise there may be some circumstances where it will be difficult to obtain all the assurance checks that are traditionally required. Where this is the case and when the standard options have been exhausted, it is important that employers take a proportionate and risk-based approach, whilst ensuring the safety and wellbeing of people who use services and staff.

Obtaining two suitable references, including one from the applicant’s current or most recent employer, is usually an essential part of ensuring a candidate is safe and suitable for the role.

Obtaining professional references is considered best practice, but it will not always be possible for Ukrainian nationals due to the ongoing conflict within Ukraine. In such cases you should be satisfied with the explanation for this and record why in the staff file.

If professional references are not available, you should get a minimum of one character reference from their Scottish Refugee Council case worker or another suitable UK contact. For Ukrainians visiting as part of the Super Sponsor Scheme, you can request a reference from their case worker.

Share a copy of the job description and person specification in case they are aware of any reason why the candidate might be unsuitable.

Disclosure Scotland helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. Through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, it ensures unsuitable people don't do regulated work with children and protected adults. A disclosure contains impartial and confidential criminal history information, held by UK police and government departments, that can be used by employers to make safer recruitment decisions.

Only those undertaking regulated work are eligible to join the PVG Scheme. If an individual is not doing regulated work, but is working for a registered care service, they are likely to be eligible for a standard disclosure. Basic disclosures are available for anyone and any purpose. You can find full details on the Disclosure Scotland website.

You should complete a PVG, even for people newly arrived in the UK. Although this may not provide any immediate information it means the person will then be subject to monitoring by PVG.

Currently, Disclosure Scotland does not have access to criminal record information held outside the UK, but employers can ask candidates to provide a criminal record certificate from Ukraine. Despite the current circumstances in the country, it may still be possible for the applicant to get a criminal record certificate through the Ukrainian consulate in London; you can find more details on the UK Government website. If it is not possible to get a criminal record check, you should do a risk assessment.

For more information on the availability of criminal record checks visit the UK Government website.

It is important to risk assess information provided on any PVG disclosure or overseas criminal record certificate.

It may be difficult to get two references, in which case it is important to take a proportionate and risk-based approach, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of people who use services and staff.

A risk assessment should be on an individual basis, with reference to the job and person specifications of the role.

Following a risk assessment, you may decide to employ an applicant while introducing additional safeguards, which may include:

  • obtaining sufficient and appropriate references
  • gathering more information from the applicant
  • avoiding direct care and support
  • ensuring any gaps in employment history are fully explored
  • conducting a values-based interview
  • not allowing lone working until successful completion of induction and a satisfactory review of the risk assessment
  • providing a higher level of supervision with a particular focus on the standards and values set out in the Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers.
  • other verification of what the individual has recently been doing.

Always keep detailed records of any risk assessment and any supporting documents. While you may need to conduct a risk assessment, due to information gaps, you should be open with the person about why. You should discuss with them how to implement measures (such as additional mentoring or supervision) in a supportive way and be alert to potential discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Challenges to recruitment

Anyone seeking and finding employment in a new country can face some unique challenges.

Many Ukrainian nationals, who have already experienced the trauma of being forced to leave home and country, are now facing the prospect of a longer-term life in Scotland and are looking to become more integrated into our society by gaining employment. As challenging and stressful as it is for anyone looking for work, there are specific challenges faced by Ukrainians that employers can be aware of and help with.

It is quite possible that individuals from Ukraine applying for roles in social service settings were previously employed in the social service sector in their home country and may have gained qualifications to do so. Some may have no formal qualifications but could have relevant lived experience from looking after family and friends.

Apart from social work, which is a protected title, it is not a requirement for applicants to have achieved a specific qualification before taking up employment as a social service worker in Scotland.

A Ukrainian who wishes to work in a registered role can be offered employment based on their values, experience and attitude.

The SSSC has values-based recruitment resources to help employers including videos, examples of behaviours that would, and would not, meet the standards of behaviour expected and example interview questions.

Ukrainians who were qualified social workers in their own country can apply for their qualifications to be recognized. To achieve this, they must be able to provide supporting evidence, such as degree certificates, course and placement information etc. For more guidance and information applicants should contact the SSSC’s Qualifications and Standards Team at

The fee for an assessment of a social work qualification is currently £320. However, to encourage recruitment the SSSC has recently agreed to waive all charges for the assessment process, including an aptitude test if required, for anyone holding refugee or asylum seeker status or who has arrived under one of the resettlement schemes, for example from Ukraine or Afghanistan.

Other than social workers, once an individual starts an eligible role in social services, they must register with the SSSC within six months.

Personal Assistants are not required to register.

To maintain their registration they must have, or be working towards, a relevant qualification, which must be gained within five years.

Most visa schemes in place to support people to work in the UK have a minimum language requirement, but not the Ukrainian visa schemes. This means that an applicant’s ability to speak English could vary from fluent to non-existent.

Employers must make a judgement on whether an applicant has a sufficient grasp of English to safely conduct the role applied for.

This assessment should take account of the role to be performed, as well as the candidate’s English fluency. For example, an auxiliary role would probably require a lower level of English than someone providing direct care and administering medication.

Employers and employees can find resources to help with language learning and development on the SSSC website.

You can find further information on the Scottish Government’s support for language development on the Scottish Government’s website.

Social care is highly skilled work, which demands high levels of trust in the relationship between people experiencing and providing direct care and support alongside a shared understanding of and commitment to human rights approaches and values. The Health and Social Care Standards reflect the importance of that relationship, with one of the five Standards being ‘I have confidence in the people who support and care for me’.

Central to compassionate, person centred, and relationship based care and support is the recognition of culture and its impact, and the meeting of cultural needs.

Employers have a responsibility to communicate and build confidence in the cultural values of their organisation within their recruitment processes as well as with existing staff.

While different nations can have different cultural values, there may be cultural differences within those nations as well, so it is important not to pre-judge any individual based on their country of origin.

Working to the principles of the SSSC’s Values-based recruitment, employers can be confident that applicants’ values align with those of their organisation. The Care Quality Commission also has a range of resources for employers related to cultural values which can be found here.

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