Migrant workers and COVID-19

Migrant workers and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a heavy toll on migrant workers around the globe, who are particularly vulnerable in terms of social protection coverage, and assistance is required from origin, transit and destination countries. While the specific type of support is linked to various factors, most migrant workers, regardless of their type of migration or legal status, need access to some sort of safety net to reduce the impact of the crisis. A number of governments and social security institutions have made efforts to include migrant workers in social protection responses to the crisis. A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) outlines such approaches.

It is widely recognized that migrant workers are major contributors to social and economic development. However, they face significant challenges in accessing social protection. When a crisis hits the economy they are often the first to suffer. According to the ILO, 2.2 billion workers, or 68 per cent of the global labour force, have been touched by lockdown measures. Knowing that 164 million migrant workers represent 4.7 per cent of the global labour force, a modest estimation indicates that more than 111 million migrant workers are affected.

The report Social protection for migrant workers: A necessary response to the Covid-19 crisis, jointly prepared by the ILO and ISSA, outlines the challenges faced by migrant workers and how governments and social security institutions can address the situation, including country examples. The report highlights the impact of job losses on social insurance coverage and points to the importance of ensuring basic social protection for all. Analysing short-term responses, including related to health, financial support and occupational safety, the report draws conclusions for the longer-term perspective of improving the social protection coverage of migrant workers.

Further to the immediate crisis response, renewed attention needs to be given to the ratification and implementation of relevant international standards, including the ILO Conventions and Recommendations in the area of social protection. In addition, national strategies, policies, legal frameworks and administrative systems should be developed through social dialogue,

To support the extension of coverage and the implementation of social security agreement, the ISSA Guidelines are the recognized international professional reference.