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  • Writer's pictureJennie Cottle

Weekly News: our selection of articles focused on social protection for migrants

Every week, Policy Shift will share a selection of recent articles and publications focused on public policy and innovation. This week's theme deals with recommendations and guidelines for the public and private sector to better protect migrant rights, particularly in light of the global health crisis.

The IOM has stated that they will provide guidelines and updates for the private sector and employers during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly regarding the treatment and safety of migrant workers. While the pandemic has had a large impact on employment in general, migrant workers have been particularly impacted.

According to the IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino, “The private sector, governments and other stakeholders must protect the rights and well-being of the estimated 164 million international migrant workers and their communities around the world.”

For related news on this topic and cooperation between the ILO, ICC and IOM:


The author notes that migrant workers are already facing more vulnerable and unstable labor and employment circumstances, and points out how the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing inequalities. As these issues are becoming increasingly more apparent, this article argues that a better framework is needed to protect migrant rights, and ensure equal access to social services and social protection.

According to Lara White, Asia-Pacific senior specialist, International Organization for Migration, quoted in the article, “Migration has changed, probably permanently, and the question will be in what ways and how can we respond to these new concerns and how can we ensure that migrant workers and migrants in general are protected.”

Also quoted in the article, Nilim Baruah, regional migration specialist at the International Labour Organization, stated “Going forward, there is a need to address structural weaknesses...Give due attention in policy and law to improving housing and wages of migrant workers, to achieving equal treatment with nationals in social protection; and to recognizing domestic work as work.”


This report from the ILO outlines the main issues facing migrant workers during the COVID-19 crisis, including “challenges in accessing social protection, including health care and income security, making them more vulnerable to the health and socio-economic impacts caused by COVID-19.” The report also describes which sectors face specific difficulties and require innovative public responses and increased diaologue with their governments.

The ILO offers several guidelines for governments to ensure social protection for their migrant workers during the crisis, for example, “In the short term, countries should seek to ensure that all migrant workers and their families have access to health care and income protection; suitable working and living conditions, including compliance with occupational safety and health standards; and relevant information on COVID-19.”

Long term solutions proposed by the ILO include:

  • “Developing and strengthening universal and inclusive national social protection systems, including social protection floors, and on establishing social security and labour agreements.”

  • “Gender-responsive social protection should address both men's and women's distinctive realities and needs. It should also ensure that women and men have access to coverage despite their often-informal employment status.”

  • “Special attention should be given to protecting migrant workers in the informal economy by pursuing innovative policies in order to reach them quickly through a combination of non-contributory and contributory schemes and facilitate their transition to the formal economy in the longer term.”

  • “In order to build sustainable, socially responsive and widely accepted social protection schemes and systems that are inclusive of migrant workers, it is imperative to ensure social dialogue and workers’ representation. Short-term and medium-to-long-term responses that affect migrant workers would benefit from being developed in consultation with workers’ and employers’ organizations.”


In the U.S., the NILC (National Immigration Law Center), has provided a series of resources for immigrants impacted by changes to DACA, access to health care during the pandemic, and community education resources to allow families and friends to better understand their rights and respond to interactions with immigration enforcement:


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