Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers [1st ed.] 9783030526313, 9783030526320

This volume explores psychosocial problems amongst one of the most vulnerable social groups in our societies, immigrant

461 89 3MB

English Pages IX, 182 [188] Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers [1st ed.]
 9783030526313, 9783030526320

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-ix
Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction (Francisco Díaz Bretones, Angeli Santos)....Pages 1-7
Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability (Francisco Díaz Bretones)....Pages 9-22
Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being (Kaori Fujishiro, Annekatrin Hoppe)....Pages 23-42
Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a People-Based Strategic Human Resource Management (Amelia Manuti)....Pages 43-59
Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants (Francisco Díaz Bretones)....Pages 61-78
Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health (Luis E. Alvarado)....Pages 79-93
Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects (José A. Camacho-Ballesta, Bárbara Montero, Mercedes Rodríguez)....Pages 95-114
Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria and the Slovak Republic (Sonila Danaj, Katarina Hollan, Anette Scoppetta)....Pages 115-136
Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational Agricultural Workers in Canada and the UK (Ewa Dabrowska-Miciula, Philomena de Lima)....Pages 137-156
Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of Southern Europe (Pedro Francés-Gómez, José María González-González)....Pages 157-175
An Integrated Approach for Action and Intervention (Angeli Santos, Francisco Díaz Bretones)....Pages 177-182

Citation preview

Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being

Francisco Díaz Bretones Angeli Santos  Editors

Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers

Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being Series Editors Stavroula Leka, Centre for Organizational Health and Development, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK Aditya Jain, Nottingham University Business School and Centre for Organizational Health and Development, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK Gerard Zwetsloot, Gerard Zwetsloot Research & Consultancy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Centre for Organizational Health and Development, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Raising awareness of the interdisciplinary and complementary relationship of different research perspectives on health, safety and well-being is the main aim of the book series Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-being. Combined research approaches on health, safety and well-being are becoming more and more popular in several research disciplines across and between the social, behavioural and medical sciences. Therefore, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Wellbeing stimulates the publication of interdisciplinary approaches to the promotion of health, safety and well-being. Recognizing a need within societies and workplaces for more integrated approaches to problem solving, the series caters to the notion that most innovation stems from combining knowledge and research results from related but so far separated areas. Volumes will be edited by expert authors and editors and will contain contributions from different disciplines. All authors, and especially volume editors are encouraged to engage in developing more robust theoretical models that can be applied in actual practice and lead to policy development. Editorial Board: Professor Johannes Siegrist, University of Dusseldorf, Germany Professor Peter Chen, University of South Australia Professor Katherine Lippel, University of Ottawa, Canada Professor Nicholas Ashford, MIT, USA Dr Steve Sauter, NIOSH, USA Dr Peter Hasle, Aalborg University, Denmark.

More information about this series at

Francisco Díaz Bretones • Angeli Santos Editors

Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers

Editors Francisco Díaz Bretones School of Labour Relations & Human Resources University of Granada Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain

Angeli Santos Division of Psychiatry & Applied Psychology University of Nottingham YANG Fujia, Jubilee Campus, Nottinghamshire, UK

ISSN 2213-0497 ISSN 2213-0470 (electronic) Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being ISBN 978-3-030-52631-3 ISBN 978-3-030-52632-0 (eBook) © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland



Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francisco Díaz Bretones and Angeli Santos


Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francisco Díaz Bretones


Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaori Fujishiro and Annekatrin Hoppe


Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a People-Based Strategic Human Resource Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amelia Manuti


Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francisco Díaz Bretones


Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Luis E. Alvarado



Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . José A. Camacho-Ballesta, Bárbara Montero, and Mercedes Rodríguez

1 9


43 61



Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria and the Slovak Republic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Sonila Danaj, Katarina Hollan, and Anette Scoppetta





Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational Agricultural Workers in Canada and the UK . . . . . . 137 Ewa Dabrowska-Miciula and Philomena de Lima


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of Southern Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Pedro Francés-Gómez and José María González-González


An Integrated Approach for Action and Intervention . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Angeli Santos and Francisco Díaz Bretones

Editors and Contributors

About the Editors Francisco Díaz Bretones School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain Angeli Santos University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Contributors Luis Eduardo Alvarado University of Guayaquil, Guayaquil, Ecuador Francisco Díaz Bretones School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain José A. Camacho-Ballesta University of Granada, Granada, Spain Ewa Dabrowska-Miciula University of Guelph-Humber, Toronto, ON, Canada Sonila Danaj European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria Philomena de Lima University of the Highlands and Islands-Inverness College, Inverness, UK Pedro Francés-Gómez University of Granada, Granada, Spain Kaori Fujishiro National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH, USA José M. González University of Granada, Granada, Spain Katarina Hollan European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria vii


Editors and Contributors

Annekatrin Hoppe Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany Amelia Manuti Department of Education, Psychology, Communication, University “Aldo Moro” of Bari, Bari, Italy Bárbara Montero University of Granada, Granada, Spain Mercedes Rodríguez University of Granada, Granada, Spain Angeli Santos University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK Anette Scoppetta European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria

List of Acronyms


Corporate social responsibility European Free Trade Association European Social Survey European Working Conditions Survey European Union European Occupational Safety and Health Agency Food and Agricultural Organization Human Resource Management International Labour Organization International Organization for Migration Labour Force Survey National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, USA Non-governmental Organization Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Occupational health and safety Occupational safety and health Positive Organizational Behaviour Psychosocial Risk Management—European Framework Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program Strategic Human Resource Management Self-initiated expatriates Transnational agricultural workers United Nations World Health Organization


Chapter 1

Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction Francisco Díaz Bretones and Angeli Santos

The book begins with a first chapter entitled Migrant workers, hazards and vulnerability in which Bretones utilises a diagnostic approach to the phenomenon of migrant workers, which he refers to as new workers. Data from various international agencies and statistical offices in different countries show that migration is a global phenomenon, present in all regions and not restricted to developed countries or those in the northern hemisphere. It’s speed and expansion in recent decades is a consequence not only of the improvement and accessibility of transport methods but also of increased human mobility in general. The author also makes a brief ontological reflection and discussion of the migrant concept compared to other meanings of the term, reviewing not only the semantic but also the conceptual differences for each of the variants. The author argues for the need to maintain a broad understanding of the phenomenon given its complexity, universality and diversity. But along with the appearance of these new workers in all societies and regions, the author also points out the emergence of new risks and working conditions, among which, those of a psychosocial nature occupy a prominent place. The emergence of both cases (new workers and new risks) is probably not accidental but due to new forms of work and work organisation and the ways in which industrialised societies have developed. These new risks are universal to all workers and sectors, although probably more pronounced in more vulnerable social groups, including migrant workers. Their severe impact is more likely to be due to a combination of the labour-, social- and economic-related inadequacies that accompany more unstable jobs. Migrant workers F. D. Bretones (*) School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected] A. Santos University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



F. D. Bretones and A. Santos

are also more vulnerable socially; both because of the breakdown of family and social ties that occur during the migratory process and because of the difficulties in communicating in a new language that can make it difficult for them to establish new social support networks. Moreover, the occurrence of labour and social discrimination and other subtle forms of racism to which they may be subjected makes these workers much more vulnerable and subject to higher rates of stress and discomfort. The chapter by Fujishiro and Hoppe entitled Toward a Lifecourse Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-being examines the need to consider the pre-migration health status of migrant workers and its implications on postmigration health and well-being. Fujishiro and Hoppe call for a re-examination of the issues of migrant health selection and decline, and argue that health status should be considered not in comparison to others in the receiving country, but those in the country of origin, i.e. stayers. They argue that this approach is advantageous for three reasons. First, by comparing the health status of migrants to similar others in their country of origin who, for some reason or another, have chosen not to migrate, provides a more appropriate comparison group and the opportunity to assess whether health is a determining factor for migration. Second, a better understanding of the decision-making processes and expectations in deciding to migrate and their subsequent impact on health both during the migration process and at follow-up provide a more complete picture of migration as a psychological phenomenon. Lastly, the opportunity to elucidate migrant health trajectory in the context of global change through the use of a dual cohort study design, offers a deeper insight into migration as a human development process. Fujishiro and Hoppe present their data on over 200 Spanish migrants who migrated to Germany in 2012 who were adversely affected by the economic downturn of 2009 but nevertheless possessed the skills and human capital to expect reasonable returns of migration, and a corresponding group of stayers. Specifically, they examine whether the migrant health selection hypothesis is supported by their data. They found that migrant’s self-reported health was better than non-migrants at 12 months, not because migrants were in better health, but because non-migrants’ health seemed to decline over time. Similarly, they found that migrants exhibited an increase in depressive symptoms at 12 months compared to non-migrants. Regression analysis revealed high anticipations for better job situations were protective of post-migration mental health whereas high anticipations for enjoyable life were detrimental. Communication challenges were also associated with higher depressive symptoms. The chapter raises interesting questions on the health impact of not migrating, the different impacts of pre-migration anticipations on post-migration health and well-being, and the potential difference in the expected time frame in which different types of positive anticipations are to be fulfilled. Chapter 4 by Manuti on Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a people-based Strategic Human Resource Management calls for a strategic human resource management approach to the issue of international mobility. International mobility, as defined by Manuti, essentially comprises three groups of workers, namely corporate expatriates, self-initiated expatriates and migrants. The first group comprises workers who are assigned an international destination by their companies while self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) travel

1 Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction


internationally on their own initiative following self-directed career plans and/or personal and family needs. Conversely, migrants cannot fully manage their careers, are often oppressed and discriminated and are unable to overcome difficult life conditions imposed upon them both in their home and in the host countries, whose professional experience is often “a chaotic patchwork” divorced from choice, ability and vocation. Manuti argues that it is in the benefit of organizations to adopt a relational or people-based human resource perspective to migrant workers which considers the national and cultural context of origin of these workers, as well as their personal attributes and attitudes that can make them vulnerable in the workplace. Manuti goes on to argue that the development of migrant workers as an asset can be enhanced through formal and informal forms of workplace learning which could support the integration into the workplace. Rather than focussing on the technical skills and qualifications possessed by migrant workers, more attention should be paid to the wider heritage of knowledge acquired by them in different life and professional domains through informal learning strategies. This assumption allows one to consider all international migrants as potential knowledge carriers or knowledgeable brokers and boundary spanners. Given that boundaries are areas where unusual learning takes place, where different perspectives intersect, and new possibilities arise, a people-based approach to HRM, along with practices and interventions which support the cultural integration of migrants and the enhancement of their knowledge through formal and informal learning, along with a positive culture, open to learning and to change are key to enabling migrants to learn from their experience, to influence the learning of others, and to create an environment that supports desired results. The chapter on Psycho-social hazards at work in migrants, begins with the definition of this concept as the worker’s interaction with work itself and other environmental variables which could potentially cause physical and/or psychological harm. Bretones then outlines the main psychosocial risks studied in migrant workers. These are then organised into two large groups. On the one hand, there those of a contextual nature, and in which instability plays an important role, not only because of the economic, labour or health consequences that unstable jobs entail, but also the emotional and self-conceptual consequences that this instability generates, creating new and deeper social breaches with other workers. The author bases his ideas on an extensive review of studies carried out in different contexts and countries that demonstrate the prevalence and effects of this instability. Faced with these contextual risks, a second group may be identified in the frustration resulting from the psychological needs that these migrant workers experience. Based on classical Self-Determination theory, the author analyses some of the main psychosocial risks that they face and how they may bring about frustration and discomfort. The author delineates three major frustrations that migrant workers face. The first is the lack of professional and career development, which includes the lack of recognition or distrust by employers for previous skills and experiences, lack of good language skills, and the limited social networks that enable the worker to improve his or her career. The case of qualified migrants and sub-qualification problems, to which the author devotes part of the chapter. The second frustration results from


F. D. Bretones and A. Santos

insufficient autonomy and poor decision-making ability that these workers suffer from. The third frustration may result from difficulty in establishing social relationships at work, especially with other local colleagues, and other migrants. The author reviews the main consequences for health, especially those of psychological nature. He also points out some of the paradoxes that have been found by applied research with regard to migration and health, and reviews some of the plausible explanatory models. The chapter ends with some of the limitations current research on psychosocial risks for migrant workers and proposes future lines of research. Alvarado’s chapter on Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health points out the main difficulties and risks faced by migrant workers, specifying some studies carried out in certain sectors where migrant workers are often employed, such as construction, agriculture, domestic services and hospitality. The author reviews the main implications for the psychological health of migrant workers. He highlights both the processes related to the lack of social and personal resources such as acculturation in the host society, lack of social networks, as well as others more specific to the labour and organisational environment such as frustration over initial work expectations, or low control. The chapter ends with a series of strategies for both prevention and promotion, as well as psychotherapeutic intervention. In their chapter, professors Camacho-Ballesta, Montero and Rodríguez conducted a more specific analysis on Labour Migration in the European Union. The chapter begins with a brief but thorough epistemological review of the main theories that have attempted to explain labour migration from the beginning of the twentieth century. This includes the first attempts of neoclassical theories and push and pull phenomena, the dependency theory approach, finally arriving at more current explanatory models, such as dual labour markets theory and world system or migration networks theory, among others. The authors of the chapter include a summary describing the ideas and supporting theories for each approach. With regard to social conflicts and the rejection of migration in some social sectors, the authors point out, and argue, the positive contributions that these workers make to host societies in economic terms (GDP) in these countries and in social terms. In Europe, migration has slowed down or softened the ageing process ageing, in addition to sustaining social protection and health systems, where migrant workers give more than they receive. According to the data analysed by the authors, this is why migrant workers flows have increased annually in all European Union countries during the period from 1995 to 2017, in spite of the economic crisis. They carried out an interesting gender analysis in which they demonstrate the progressive feminisation of migrant worker flows, especially since 2007. This has been mainly due to the increase in arrivals by working women which have been maintained even during periods of economic crisis. The authors offer some explanatory guidelines for this phenomenon. The chapter ends with a more detailed study of labour migration in five specific European Union countries which account for more than 80% of migration to this area and are considered important, either because of the number of migrant workers they receive each year, as in the case of Germany and France, or the impact of intra-European mobility policies as in the case of the United Kingdom, and the effects of the economic crisis, as in the case of Spain and Italy.

1 Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction


The chapter on Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria and the Slovak Republic focuses on the occupational safety and health of temporary cross-border labour migrants posted to Austria and the Slovak Republic, coming from other EU member states but also temporary workers from third countries. By combining the layers of vulnerability of the migrant workers framework, on migration factors, the characteristics of the migrants and the receiving countries’ conductions, together with the OSH literature on social factors OSH literature on the impact of subcontracting and precarity on migrant workers, the authors argue that the work conducted by cross-border posted workers exposes the cycle of neglect arising from an inconsistency of EU occupational safety and health legislation and standards enforced by employers. Various issues to do with work fragmentation and outsourcing, the ambiguity of liability legislation and access to healthcare services, communication barriers, a segmented labour market and the precarious nature of the work itself has led to exploitation and abuse, social exclusion, discrimination or bullying and pressure to accept the status quo for fear of reprisal or dismissal. The Austrian and Slovak cases are quite distinct, in that the lived experiences differ substantially in both countries, with the latter having a lessdeveloped tradition of mobile workers, and a larger proportion of workers coming from third counties. In both countries however, there is a breach of OSH standards and responsibilities by employers which have severe consequence on the health and safety of these workers. One such consequence is the limited access to appropriate healthcare provision in the event of an injury at work and lack of compensation for such an injury. The chapter thus concludes with a number of policy implications that can be applied to improve the working conditions of such workers. The chapter on Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”—Health and Safety among Transnational Agricultural Workers in Canada and the UK consists of a multimethod scoping review of peer-reviewed articles and grey literature to highlight the cycle of neglect that characterizes transmigrant agricultural workers (TAWs) in Canada and the UK. Using concept of cycle of neglect to illustrate the lack of impact of occupational health research in influencing policy change, the authors argue that this framework can be adapted to agricultural workers of the Global North. This neglect can be attributed to a number of factors such as an economic approach to migrant labour at the expense of occupational health and safety (OHS) and wellbeing. In the Canadian context, agricultural workers are recruited through temporary workers programmes, while in the UK, temporary or seasonal TAWs are predominantly EU citizens from eastern and central European countries. A consistent message across the literature reviewed is that migrants are at a higher risk of work-related injuries than their native counterparts, and are more likely to experience adverse consequences to their safety, well-being and health than native workers. In Canada, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is the longest running transnational migration program from a host of about 80 countries, which is largely employer driven, and thus prevents the possibility for one to change employer. As such, employees are beholden to employers’ requests to work long hours, live in substandard accommodations and are subject to poor working conditions. A range of occupational health concerns such as musculoskeletal, injuries,


F. D. Bretones and A. Santos

agrochemical and pesticide-related illness, workplace injury and death, extreme temperatures, infectious diseases, gastrointestinal problems and exhaustion, stress, skin and respiratory infections are commonplace. The most obvious consequence of this cycle of neglect however, is despite almost 30 years of research, TAWs continue to have a lack of access to health care benefits especially following a work injury, despite paying Canadian income tax, employment insurance and pension contributions. By contrast, in the UK, there is a tendency for OHS and labour migration scholars to operate in disciplinary siloes, resulting in a lack of attention given to migrants in OHS research and the lack of inclusion of OHS issues in labour migration research, and thereby a lack of integration of these two domains. There is also a lack of appropriate monitoring and general trend toward the deregulation of OHS which has coincided with a time when workers’ rights and organisations have come under attack. The reliance and preference of migrant labour in the UK has been characterised by a search for a particular type of worker who is non-complaining, willing to work hard and available for the time required and no more. Other studies have also highlighted issues to do with poor working conditions, accommodation, discrimination, barriers to communication, rural isolation and a general lack of OHS systems and their rights as factors contributing to the poor OHS of agricultural migrants in the UK, exacerbated by the lack of resources allocated to the support migrants and a lack of experience among professionals in addressing their specific needs. The authors conclude the chapter with a framework to highlight the positive facilitators of wellbeing and health and potential stressors that need to be addressed if migrant wellbeing is to improve. They also highlight the need for OHS, public health and labour migrant researchers and policymakers to collaborate and develop interdisciplinary research and approaches with a focus on spatial, social, economic and political configurations that integrate migrant experiences and practices across transnational spaces. The last chapter on Responsible management of psychosocial risks of migrant workers by Francés-Gómez and González-González, unlike previous ones, focuses on organisational aspects. It analyses the relationship between the psychosocial risks migrant workers are subjected to and the role played in this by corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. In this regard, the authors inquire into the duality of worker exploitation and vulnerability processes with the social sustainability policies that some companies implement. Many of these policies are based on social contract theory, through which the authors argue that the acceptance by migrant workers of the worst working conditions make such agreements indecent. The authors contend that the responsible management of migrant workers’ psychosocial risks implies acceptance of diversity, although this cannot be synonymous with exploitation or job insecurity. The authors analyse the development of CSR in Europe, establish four distinct models (associated with specific geographical areas): sustainability (continental area); liberal (Anglo-Saxon); partnership (Nordic countries); and family based (Mediterranean countries). In this respect, the responsible management of migrant workers’ psychosocial risks must assume the particularities and vulnerabilities of their group, but without exposing them to riskier or inadequate work. Socially responsible interventions should lead to a set of structured activities that promote

1 Health, Safety and Well-Being in Migrant Workers: An Introduction


increased health and organisational effectiveness, as well as socially functioning organisation. The chapter ends with some concrete measures that companies could implement. We believe that this book offers a multidisciplinary and up-to-date view of the processes of psychosocial occupational health and migrant worker well-being by making a further contribution to this very topical issue. We very much hope that it is useful and of interest to researchers, practitioners, and policy makers involved in migrant worker health and safety and well-being.

Francisco Díaz Bretones is an Associate Professor at the University of Granada (Spain), holds his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the same university. Currently he is Head of the Well-being for Individual, Society and Enterprise (WISE) research group at the University of Granada. Previously, he was associate professor at the University of Tamaulipas (Mexico). He has been Visiting Professor in several foreign universities (University of Western Ontario, Princeton University, Burgundy School of Business, among others). His research interests are focused on worker’s emotions, and especially on disadvantaged social groups such as immigrant workers, among others. He has more than 40 articles published in high impact academic journals with more than 1000 citations overall and 27 books and chapters. Also, he has participated in 12 international research projects with several European and Latin American universities, for example, in a research about Psychosocial Emergent Risks in SMEs funded by the European Commission or the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Strategies in Andalusia project. Angeli Santos is an Associate Professor in Applied Psychology at the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham. She obtained her MSc in Occupational Health Psychology and PhD in Applied Psychology degrees from the University of Nottingham, and has worked in both the UK and Malaysia campuses of the University of Nottingham. Currently, she is programme director for the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology and holds an adjunct senior research fellowship at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Her research straddles the disciplines of organisational and occupational health psychology and business, centred around three themes: occupational health and well-being of migrant workers and human service workers; the assessment and regulation of emotions at work; and barriers and facilitators of career decision-making. She has over 20 publications including refereed journal articles and book chapters in a variety of established journals and book publishers. She has been involved in a number of large-scale public and private sector funded grants, including one on migrant workers in Malaysia funded by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

Chapter 2

Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability Francisco Díaz Bretones



We live in times of great social change and transformation, which can also be seen in the field of work. Perhaps one of the most obvious changes is that of international migration, which has seen a marked increase in recent years. The global nature of the phenomenon, as well as the social and political debate it has generated brings to the fore the importance of the issue. This chapter aims to provide an interdisciplinary and comprehensive overview of today’s new workforce, which is characterised by greater ethnic and cultural diversity. New workers from other countries already constitute, and will continue to do so at pace, a significant part of the human resources of modern organisations. In some countries and sectors, migrant workers make up the majority of the workforce; thus, consideration ought to be paid to their fundamental psychological and social needs.


New Workers: Migrant Workers

Migratory movements for work or economic reasons have existed throughout human history. However, it was mainly in the second half of the twentieth century, and especially in the 90s, that migration became widespread, with the numbers increasing an unstoppable rate, thus becoming a global phenomenon. It is difficult to determine the number of workers who have permanently relocated to another country. The International Labour Office (ILO, 2018) estimates that in F. D. Bretones (*) School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



F. D. Bretones

2017 there were 164 million migrant workers worldwide, of which 111 million (68%) resided in developed countries, primarily in three large geographical areas covering Northern, Southern and Western Europe1 (23.9%), Northern America2 (23%) and the Arab states3 (13.9%). In these areas, migrant workers also represent a high percentage of the total workforce, ranging from 40.8% (Arab states) and 17.8% (Northern, Southern and Western Europe). In recent years, however, a decrease can be observed in the numbers of migrant workers in developed countries, which is in contrast to developing countries where numbers have been increasing. This may be due to a variety of factors such as demographic changes, technological advances, increased growth of economies in developing countries, as well as changes in the immigration policies of developed countries. A specific case would be the countries of the sub-Saharan region,4 in which 7.2% of their labour force is made up of foreign workers (ILO, 2018). It is impossible to speak of purely emigrant or immigrant countries since all share, to a greater or lesser extent, both conditions. Along with the global nature of the phenomenon, another characteristic of current migration its rapid growth and increased demographic pressure on national populations. For example, in the United States, it is estimated that there are currently more than 44 million migrants. This is more than the 1960s where only 5.4% of the total population were migrants. The total number of migrants in the US is expected to double by 2065 (Pew Review Center, 2017). In Europe, the proportion of migrants has increased by over 50% in the first decade of the 2000s (OECD, 2016) so that, according to Eurostat (2017), there are more than 36 million residents who are citizens of other countries. Of these, 16 million are from other European Union countries and 20.7 million from outside of the European Union. Germany has the highest number of migrants with 8.7 million, followed by the United Kingdom (5.6 million), Italy (5 million), Spain (4.6 million) and France (4.4 million). Nevertheless, migration is not temporary and will continue to be a focal point in the coming decades. In Europe, for example, more than 11% of the labour force is of foreign origin (OECD, 2016) and the number of illegal or undocumented migrants is largely unknown. There have been several converging reasons that have led to this migratory boom (Joly, 2017). Among these, we can point to differential increases in the economic


Northern, Southern and Western Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta. 2 Northern America: Canada, United States. 3 Arab States: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. 4 Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability


development of countries, demographic pressure and imbalances in labour market demand, improvements in transport, and the globalisation of the media and information technology, among others. Nevertheless, of the search for better employment opportunities and a better life surpass all of these. The study of migration entails other difficulties not only in terms of the numerical estimates, but also the complex and multifaceted nature of this social phenomenon. First, because there is no consensus or single definition of “migrant”. Generally speaking, there are three different approaches (Anderson & Blinder, 2017), each with its distinguishing characteristics. We can, therefore, classify a person as a migrant according to several criteria: • By birth, that is, considering the person whose country of birth is different from their current country of residence. • By citizenship, when a person’s current nationality is different from their country of residence. • By relocation, where a person changes their country of habitual residence to settle in another for an extended period. In the first case, the definition is coherent and objective; it is the most commonly used criteria. However, this conceptualisation is imprecise as it excludes some cases (diplomatic personnel or armed forces stationed in foreign countries, for example) and/or includes other social and cultural classifications (children of parents who are expats who are born elsewhere, for example). In the second case, the definition is also partial because it excludes the case of nationals born abroad, and also excludes individuals who have recently changed their country of residence and acquired nationality in the destination country. The third definition is probably the most precise. However, it is also the most arbitrary and difficult to quantify since the original intention of a person concerning the duration of their stay in a country is subject to multiple circumstances. The minimum amount of time that qualifies a person as a migrant is also unclear. Moreover, this conceptualisation is even more complicated since improvements in communication makes some people reside in another country for a specified or intermittent period. Along with this, the disappearance of borders and bilateral agreements between countries that facilitate the movement of their citizens between their territories makes it even more difficult to reach a precise definition of the concept. Some examples might be the countries that make up the Andean Community of Nations5 or the European signatories to the Schengen Agreement.6 In the latter, the physical removal of the borders of member countries complicates the statistical records of migratory movements. Furthermore, the European Union does not consider the movement of nationals from a member state residing in another


Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. 6


F. D. Bretones

European Union country as migratory movements or, but rather as intra-European movements. The consideration of migrants would therefore be limited to the case of individuals whose country of origin is a non-member state of the European Union (EU-OSHA, 2007). Another added difficulty comes from the indiscriminate use in the academic, professional and political literature of the terms “migrant” and “immigrant”, a subtle but important distinction. This distinction in terms refers to the temporary nature (or temporary intention to remain in the new destination country) of their movements. The immigrant worker will thus be a non-national who moves to a new country with the intention of permanently settling in that country. Meanwhile, the concept of migrant worker will be broader, including all relocations of workers from one country to another, or even within their own country of residence, without there being a need for long-term duration (International Organization for Migration IOM, 2011). Consequently, for the IOM, a migrant will be any person who moves or has moved across an international border or within a country outside their place of habitual residence, regardless of (1) the legal status of the person; (2) whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; (3) the causes of the movement; or (4) the duration of the stay. In this chapter, we will use the term migrant worker to refer to adult working age international migrants, employed or unemployed, who are settled in a particular country of residence. This conceptualisation is in line with the guidelines of various international organisations (ILO, 2018), including other related concepts such as, for example, labour migrants, expatriates and foreign workforce. It, therefore, covers a wider and more varied range of the phenomenon concerning skills, education level, objective and migratory expectations and legal and employment status. The desire to settle in the host society is a defining feature of migration. Although the desire to settle was considered to be one of the main characteristics in classic migration models (Massey et al., 1993), the salience of this notion has changed in recent years. Current improvements and convenience in transport, social and cultural changes, together with the desire to improve professional or linguistic skills and experience, especially among younger people in more developed countries, has bestowed an increasingly more temporary or circular component to migration (Wallace, 2002). We believe that the decision to emigrate cannot be made solely from a cost-benefit or effort-reward perspective, nor can it be made in exclusively rational terms through comparison of the real differences (economic, social and cultural) between the country of origin and the country of destination. Rather, we must incorporate a more subjective perspective that is mediated by the collective imagination. This conception is in line with models that some authors have called “liquid migration” (Engbersen & Snel, 2013). They consider that the settlement process of present-day migrants is of an increasingly temporary and circular nature, where the desire for permanence or settlement is contingent upon various social, economic, employment and political factors distinct from those initially planned by the migrant. These can lead the person decide to settle permanently, return to their country of

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability


origin or migrate to another different country (Bygnes & Erdal, 2017; Carling & Pettersen, 2014), predicated with the intention of improving their quality of life.


New Concept of Work, Psychosocial Health and Risks

While the concept of migration has changed in recent decades, so too has the concept of work. Throughout human history, work has implied the performance of an activity with negative connotations (even biblical punishment7), and was often associated with slavery and lower social classes. Today, migration plays a very important and central role in our lives. It cannot be ignored that work is a central aspect of human life, a source of personal identity and meaning, and a symbol of human development. It has become one of the most important personal and social mechanisms, a source of status, social belonging and self-definition (Erikson, 1959). Today, it is that to which we devote much of our time and effort. Nevertheless, although work has many positive aspects, economic, social and organisational changes have also turned it into a major source of disease, and will increasingly do so, and thus pose as a potential risk factor to our health. Although work can be a major source of well-being, it can also be a source of discomfort and physical and mental ill-health. Current trends in the deregulation of labour markets, increased pressure to finish the job quickly and the dawn of the current economic crisis have had a negative impact on the health and well-being of workers. With political, socio-economic, cultural and technological environments constantly changing, new labour risks have materialised that are very likely to bring harm to the mental, social and physical health of workers. This deterioration in health will not solely be caused by long working hours that causes us to become ill more often, or by contact with new chemical or radiological substances or agents. Rather, ill-health will arise as a result of changes in our organisations and societies. For example, we could point to the abandonment of traditional forms of employment for more intensive ones (in terms of time and effort, mainly psychological and emotional), the appearance and growth of new non-traditional contracts of employment (temporary or part-time work, precarious employment), the continuous outsourcing and staffing cuts, the implementation of new working methods, increased competition, the widespread application of new technologies, and changes in workforce demographics (ILO, 2016). All of these have led to the emergence of new risks at work of a psychosocial origin. These risks have arisen, in part, because of labour environments characterised both by precarious employment conditions and opportunities, and in part, through the efforts that workers must make to meet new social and labour requirements which, in turn, will affect their mental health and well-being (Benach, Muntaner, Delclos, Menéndez, & Ronquillo, 2011).


By the sweat of your face/you shall eat bread,/till you return to the ground (Genesis, 3:19).


F. D. Bretones

We define these new psychosocial risks as those aspects of the organisation, design and management of work with the potential to cause damage to health and safety (Leka & Cox, 2008). These include various issues such as labour demands, availability of organisational support, compensation and interpersonal relationships in the workplace, as well as other adverse organisational consequences such as, decreased productivity or human error (Leka, Jain, & Lerouge, 2017). When these factors have a high probability of negatively affecting the well-being of the worker, they become risk factors that can trigger issues of work-related stress and tension, affecting not only physical health but, mental or psychological health. It is clear that these psychosocial factors at work (and the potential risks that they generate) involve a range of cognitive and perceptual processes. Their conceptualisation and study are therefore complex given their emotional connotation (Carayon, Haims, & Yang, 2001). Research into psychosocial risks at work and their impact is not new. For decades the International Labour Organization (1984) has proposed a list of major risk factors which include the underutilisation of abilities, work overload, lack of control, role conflict, inequity of pay, lack of job security, problems in relationships at work, shift work and physical danger. Nevertheless, diverse and rapid changes in the systems and organisation of work, as well as new labour relations which have arisen as a result of more competitive business environments—have led to new emerging risks. In this respect, and more recently, Leka, Cox, and Zwetsloot (2008) formulated a European Framework for Psychosocial Risk Management (PRIMA-EF model) that classifies new and emerging psychosocial risks into ten categories: • Job content (lack of work cycles, fragmented work, under use of skills, high uncertainty). • Workload and work pace (work overload, high levels of time pressure). • Work schedule (shift working, inflexible work schedules, excessive hours). • Control (low participation in decision making, lack of control over workload). • Environment and equipment (inadequate equipment availability, suitability or maintenance; poor environmental conditions). • Organisational culture and function (poor communication, low levels of support, lack of definition of organisational objectives). • Interpersonal relationships at work (social or physical isolation, poor relationships with superiors, interpersonal conflict). • Role in organisation (role ambiguity, role conflict, and responsibility for people). • Career development (career stagnation and uncertainty, job security, low social value to work). • Home-work interface (reconciliation problems, conflicting demands of work and home, dual career problems). The model proposes that organisations and the way in which work is organised are related to the characteristics of the job and can affect a variety of outcomes. These include both physical health (especially its impact on heart diseases) and the psychological well-being and health of workers (Schütte et al., 2014).

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability


However, few studies have compared the impact of employment and psychosocial working conditions on the health and well-being of migrant workers. In fact, most of the research on psychosocial risks has been limited to identifying at-risk groups in terms of employment conditions and personal characteristics, including variables of gender and age, in industrialised environments and with native workers (Javaid, Isha, & Ghazali, 2017; Kortum & Leka, 2014). Other realities and social groups such as migrants have been ignored, despite being one of the fastest growing groups and the subject of intense debate and social and political interest. It is true that in many cases, migrant workers suffer from physical health problems associated to musculoskeletal lesions, falls or impacts (Hsieh, Apostolopoulos, & Sönmez, 2016; Quandt et al., 2013), although these are often related to types of low-skilled work performed mainly in hospitality, agriculture or construction sectors, rather than to their own migrant status. Therefore, along with these risks, there are other risks associated with the social and organizational conditions where migrants perform their work (regardless of sector) which can adversely affect their psychosocial health, making such workers vulnerable workers.


Migrants: Vulnerable Workers

While all workers can be affected by psychosocial risks, it is clear that these risks are elevated in more socially vulnerable groups (Fleming, Villa-Torres, Taboada, Richards, & Barrington, 2017; Kosny, Santos, & Reid, 2017). Vulnerability, understood as fragility and poor resistance capacity toward environmental dangers, will be closely connected to risk, thus making us weaker against workplace risks. On many occasions, occupational vulnerability has been associated with workers who perform their work in poor or precarious working conditions. Standing (2011) thus suggests that occupational vulnerability and job insecurity are associated with the absence of security in working conditions. These include job insecurity, insecurity in access to continuous work, insecurity in professional and career development, insecurity in working conditions and regular schedules, contractual and income insecurity and union and collective representation. Occupational vulnerability would therefore occur in workers engaged in seasonal or highly temporary jobs, as well as those with extensive workdays, in shifts or with night work. In many cases, these are associated with professions linked to the agricultural and services sectors which conduct their activity in small businesses. We would also include in this group self-employed workers and those who work in the informal sector. All of these would suggest that processes of vulnerability are linked exclusively to the conditions or characteristics of the job itself or to the labour market in which the worker is employed. However, we believe that vulnerability does not arise from the occupations themselves, but rather from other social variables that force people in these social groups work in these precarious jobs. In other words, it is not working conditions that generate vulnerability, but rather certain personal and social characteristics of


F. D. Bretones

vulnerable groups that cause them to occupy precarious positions. In fact, various authors (Burgess & Connell, 2015; McGovern, Smeaton, & Hill, 2004) have noted how certain social and demographic characteristics of workers, such as gender (women), age (especially younger workers), lack of professional qualifications, and belonging to certain ethnic minority groups, make it difficult for these individuals to find jobs with optimal working conditions or remain in their jobs for an extended period of time. Of these socially vulnerable groups, it is perhaps migrants who suffer most from conditions of vulnerability due to their participation in what are known as 3-D jobs: dirty, dangerous, and demanding (sometimes degrading or demeaning) (Moyce & Schenker, 2018). This vulnerable profile, in many cases, makes the jobs available to them highly stigmatised and are perceived to be unpleasant or denigrating. is the former a social construct arising from the social perception of low-status and low-power jobs characterised by a relationship of subordination or subjugation8 (Ashforth & Kreiner, 2014). This stigmatisation of certain jobs and workers gives rise to a distinct hierarchy of work wherein certain groups are excluded from society, such as the case of migrants. As a result, migrant workers will accept positions that are not only of a precarious occupational nature, but comprise many of the characteristics noted above (seasonal, temporary, shift, and non-career jobs), which are also socially stigmatised. They are more likely to work in small businesses in the agricultural, hospitality or caregiving sectors, and will, at times, be subjected to a cycle of abuse. The latter makes them especially susceptible to these types of risks due to various occupational and social factors of destination societies (Anderson, 2010; Bretones, Jain, Leka, & García, 2020; Bustamante, 2016; Refslund, 2016). Migrant workers are also especially socially vulnerable as they are in a situation of greater social isolation (with other colleagues and with the community in general) and their network of social and economic resources is limited, making them more dependent on the contractor providing the job. They also have less knowledge of the social and legal resources at their disposal and, in many cases, lack the skills to express themselves in the new language of the host country (Sargeant & Tucker, 2009; Underhill & Rimmer, 2016). Poor quality of employment, together with the temporariness and insecurity of the jobs they do, makes them more vulnerable from an occupational as well as a social perspective. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by their poor understanding of labour rights and low participation in unions, and is often used as leverage by employers who take advantage of their situation (EU-OSHA, 2007).


An example would be the jobs linked to the so-called gig economy.

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability



Psychosocial Risk and Migrant Workers

Migration also presents a risk for the individual as a result of the radical changes of the migratory process on their life. In many cases, migration will entail new and stressful life experiences: living in conditions of isolation, having to express themselves in a foreign language they have not mastered and having to cope with new situations, values and behaviours which can affect and change their personal and social identity (Bretones & González-González, 2011). In this regard, some authors consider migration itself to be a psychosocial risk which can have a tremendous influence people’s health and well-being (Malmusi, Borrell, & Benach, 2010; Phelan & Link, 2015). Being a stranger in a new country, having to leave their social and family networks in their country of origin, facing new, unknown or unfamiliar cultural elements, or having to express themselves, often, in another language in which they are not fluent or have had to learn in adulthood, are elements which, on their own, make the lives of such individuals more stressful. To an extent, the migratory process entails not only a radical social and cultural change, but involves having to make certain cognitive, emotional and behavioural decisions to cope with the new cultural barriers of the destination country (González-González & Bretones, 2013). This process of acculturation (Berry, 2006), of having to adjust to new challenges and adapt to a new context, is not only exhausting and a source of daily stress, but can lead to misunderstandings with colleagues and family members and even interpersonal conflicts (Schwartz, Unger, Zamboanga, & Szapocznik, 2010). Often added to this is the inability to express oneself and understand the language of the host country (Kossoudji, 1988), as those lacking fluency in the local language tend to report increased feelings of social isolation. Migration is a much greater psychosocial risk factor when accompanied by situations which, unfortunately, coincide with the status of migrant worker. These include a hostile work environment and the social and occupational vulnerability of the job itself. Together with their life events, migrant workers are also more prone to psychosocial risks at work which interact with the underlying characteristics of migration. This, in turn, leads to more serious experiences of social inequality or worse health (physical and mental). All these circumstances make the migratory experience incredibly stressful, especially in the early stages. In these conditions the migrant will often rely on nearby social networks like family or fellow resident co-nationals to help manage or cope with such demands due to lack of cultural, linguistic and social competences. It will be in these personal and intimate spaces, which is contingent on their degree of closeness to family members and peers, that the migrant worker will enrich their personal and social situation. Migrants will seek social support networks among other culturally similar individuals which as an essential coping mechanism to reduce stress, loneliness and psychological distress (Ward & Styles, 2003), as well as to improve their adjustment and adaptation to the new environment (Copeland & Norell, 2002).


F. D. Bretones

The central role of the family in this process or familism (Campos, Ullman, Aguilera, & Dunkel Schetter, 2014), is an important source of social support hat can contribute to improvement of the mental health of the migrant worker. Familism is linked to the subjective perception and level of support from family members afforded to the migrant, rather than the ethnic group to which they belong or the cultural background of the worker. Thus, Campos et al. (2014) observed processes of familism in samples of European, Asian and Latino workers, especially female workers, reported the highest levels of familism. We know from a review of the existing literature (McNall, Nicklin, & Masuda, 2010) and social exchange theory (Blau, 1964), that the influence of the family as a ‘protector’ will be more related to the migrant’s subjective perception of this relationship, their perceived benefits and costs from this relationship. Such support can instil a sense of moral obligation and reciprocity in the migrant which must be reciprocated in the form of a close attachment and belonging to the family or ethnic group of reference. As a result, although this process could be a source of initial psychological support, it could negatively impact upon their social integration by perpetuating the process of racial segregation, exclusion and, consequently, vulnerability. Other psychological and personality characteristics (Wayne, Musisca, & Fleeson, 2004) may also influence the family and social resources of their national group that the migrant will decide to use. Added to all these factors are attitudes and behaviours of those in the host society, including various forms of harassment and discrimination (Krings, Johnston, Binggeli, & Maggiori, 2014; Wadsworth et al., 2006). These constitute yet another source of stress that increases their social and psychological fragility and vulnerability. Racism often arises as a result of social tensions toward individuals from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Racism and discrimination toward migrants has risen in recent years, in part, due to the weariness of host societies to the adverse effects globalisation such as hyper-competition, unemployment, deregulation of labour laws, and decreased social protection. These circumstances have generated feelings of distrust toward “foreigners” (de Varennes 2002), who are blamed for these problems that have little or nothing to do with migration. Not only are migrants not the cause of these problems but, in many cases, they become victims of inequality, social, exclusion and economic exploitation (Pajnik, 2016). They occupy low-skilled, low paying, insecure jobs and work in conditions that are often worse than native workers (Ahonen et al., 2009; Benach et al., 2011; Ronda-Pérez et al., 2012). In short, and as discussed above, migrant workers are more exposed to various situations of social and occupational vulnerability. These circumstances make them more likely to experience various psychosocial risks at work that negatively affects their physical and mental health. The consequences of such vulnerability are dire. Not only do they affect their well-being and quality of life, but hinder their social integration, perpetuating a cycle of marginalization and social stigma that is difficult, if not impossible, to resolve.

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability


Acknowledgments This chapter is part of the research project “Business Ethics: Normativity and Economic Behavior. A New Social Contract” (FFI2017-87953R) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

References Ahonen, E. Q., Porthé, V., Vázquez, M. L., García, A. M., López-Jacob, M. J., Ruiz-Frutos, C., et al. (2009). A qualitative study about immigrant workers’ perceptions of their working conditions in Spain. Journal of Epidemiology Community Health, 63, 936–942. https://doi. org/10.1136/jech.2008.077016 Anderson, B. (2010). Migration, immigration controls and the fashioning of precarious workers. Work, Employment and Society, 24(2), 300–317. Anderson, B., & Blinder, S. (2017). Who counts as a migrant? Definitions and their consequences. Oxford: Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. Ashforth, B. E., & Kreiner, G. E. (2014). Dirty work and dirtier work: Differences in countering physical, social, and moral stigma. Management and Organization Review, 10, 81–108. https:// Benach, J., Muntaner, C., Delclos, C., Menéndez, M., & Ronquillo, C. (2011). Migration and “lowskilled” workers in destination countries. PLoS Medicine, 8(6), e1001043. 1371/journal.pmed.1001043 Berry, J. W. (2006). Stress perspectives on acculturation. In D. L. Sam & J. W. Berry (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of acculturation psychology (pp. 43–57). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Blau, P. (1964). Power and exchange in social life. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Bretones, F. D., & González-González, J. M. (2011). Identidad y migración: la formación de nuevas identidades transculturales. In H. M. Cappello & M. Recio (Eds.), La Identidad Nacional. Sus Fuentes Plurales de Construcción (pp. 137–164). Plaza y Valdés Editores: Mexico. Bretones, F. D., Jain, A., Leka, S., & García, P. A. (2020). Psychosocial working conditions and wellbeing of migrant workers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 2547. Burgess, J., & Connell, J. (2015). Vulnerable work and strategies for inclusion. International Journal of Manpower, 36(6), 794–806. Bustamante, J. A. (2016). Mexican immigration to the United States and the vulnerability of migrants and their circularity. In C. Solé, S. Parella, T. Martí, & S. Nita (Eds.), Impact of circular migration on human, political and civil rights (pp. 63–84). New York: Springer. Bygnes, S., & Erdal, M. B. (2017). Liquid migration, grounded lives: Considerations about future mobility and settlement among polish and Spanish migrants in Norway. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(1), 102–118. Campos, B., Ullman, J. B., Aguilera, A., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2014). Familism and psychological health: The intervening role of closeness and social support. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20(2), 191–201. Carayon, P., Haims, M. C., & Yang, C. L. (2001). Psychosocial work factors and work organization. The international encyclopedia of ergonomics and human factors. Geneva: International Labour Organisation. Carling, J., & Pettersen, S. V. (2014). Return migration intentions in the integrationtransnationalism matrix. International Migration, 52(6), 13–30. 12161 Copeland, A. P., & Norell, S. K. (2002). Spousal adjustment on international assignments: The role of social support. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26(3), 255–272. https://doi. org/10.1016/S0147-1767(02)00003-2


F. D. Bretones

de Varennes, F. (2002). ‘Strangers in foreign lands’—Diversity, vulnerability and the rights of migrants. Paris: UNESCO. Engbersen, G., & Snel, E. (2013). Liquid migration. Dynamic and fluid patterns of post-accession migration flows. In B. Glorius, I. Grabowska-Lusińska, & A. Kuvik (Eds.), Mobility in transition: Migration patterns after EU enlargement (pp. 21–40). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Erikson, E. H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. Psychological Issues, 1, 1–171. 1960-02756-001. EU-OSHA. (2007). Literature study on migrant workers. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from http:// Fleming, P. J., Villa-Torres, L., Taboada, A., Richards, C., & Barrington, C. (2017). Marginalisation, discrimination and the health of Latino immigrant daylabourers in a Central North Carolina community. Health and Social Care in the Community, 25(2), 527–537. https:// González-González, J. M., & Bretones, F. D. (2013). Pushed or pulled? Entrepreneurial behaviour among immigrants as a strategy to cope with negative social identity. Identities, 20(5), 633–648. Hsieh, Y. C., Apostolopoulos, Y., & Sönmez, S. (2016). Work conditions and health and well-being of Latina hotel housekeepers. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 18(3), 568–581. Internacional Labour Organization ILO. (1984). In Psychosocial factors at work: Recognition and control. Occupational safety and health series, 56. Report of the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health. Geneve: ILO. International Labour Organization ILO. (2016). Labour migration. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from–en/index.htm International Labour Organization ILO. (2018). ILO global estimates on international migrant workers – Results and methodology (2nd ed.). Geneva: ILO. International Organization for Migration. (2011). In Glossaryon migration. International Migration Law Series, 25. Geneve: IOM. Javaid, M. U., Isha, A. S. N., & Ghazali, Z. (2017). Psychosocial risks in relation to health and wellbeing. Global Business & Management Research, 9, 516. Joly, D. (2017). International migration in the new millennium: Global movement and settlement. London: Routledge. Kortum, E., & Leka, S. (2014). Tackling psychosocial risks and work-related stress in developing countries: The need for a multilevel intervention framework. International Journal of Stress Management, 21(1), 7–26. Kosny, A., Santos, I., & Reid, A. (2017). Employment in a “land of opportunity?” Immigrants’ experiences of racism and discrimination in the Australian workplace. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 18(2), 483–497. Kossoudji, S. A. (1988). English language ability and the labor market opportunities of Hispanic and East Asian immigrant men. Journal of Labor Economics, 6(2), 205–228. 1086/298181 Krings, F., Johnston, C., Binggeli, S., & Maggiori, C. (2014). Selective incivility: Immigrant groups experience subtle workplace discrimination at different rates. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20(4), 491–498. Leka, S., & Cox, T. (2008). The European frame work for psychosocial risk management: PRIMAEF. Nottingham: PRIMA-EF. I-WHO Publications. Leka, S., Cox, T., & Zwetsloot, G. (2008). The European framework for psychosocial risk management. In S. Leka & T. Cox (Eds.), The European framework for psychosocial risk management: PRIMA-EF. Nottingham: Institute of Work, Health and Organisations. Leka, S., Jain, A., & Lerouge, L. (2017). Work-related psychosocial risks: Key definitions and an overview of the policy context in Europe. In Psychosocial risks in labour and social security law (pp. 1–12). Cham: Springer.

2 Migrant Workers, Hazards and Vulnerability


Malmusi, D., Borrell, C., & Benach, J. (2010). Migration-related health inequalities: Showing the complex interactions between gender, social class and place of origin. Social Science & Medicine, 71(9), 1610–1619. Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1993). Theories of international migration: A review and appraisal. Population and Development Review, 19(3), 431–466. McGovern, P., Smeaton, D., & Hill, S. (2004). Bad jobs in Britain: Nonstandard employment and job quality. Work and Occupations, 31(2), 225–249. 0730888404263900 McNall, L. A., Nicklin, J. M., & Masuda, A. D. (2010). A meta-analytic review of the consequences associated with work–family enrichment. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(3), 381–396. Moyce, S. C., & Schenker, M. (2018). Migrant workers and their occupational health and safety. Annual Review of Public Health, 39, 351–365. OECD. (2016). Recruiting immigrant workers. Geneva: OECD. Pajnik, M. (2016). ‘Wasted precariat’: Migrant work in European societies. Progress in Development Studies, 16(2), 159–172. Pew Research Center. (2017). Statistical portrait of the foreign-born population in the United States. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from Phelan, J. C., & Link, B. G. (2015). Is racism a fundamental cause of inequalities in health? Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 311–330. Quandt, S. A., Kucera, K. L., Haynes, C., Klein, B. G., Langley, R., Agnew, M., et al. (2013). Occupational health outcomes for workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector: Implications for immigrant workers in the southeastern US. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 56(8), 940–959. Refslund, B. (2016). Intra-European labour migration and deteriorating employment relations in Danish cleaning and agriculture: Industrial relations under pressure from EU8/2 labour in flows? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 37(4), 597–562. 0143831X14550421 Ronda-Pérez, E., Benavides, F. G., Levecque, K., Love, J. G., Felt, E., & Van Rossem, R. (2012). Differences in working conditions and employment arrangements among migrant and non-migrant workers in Europe. Ethnicity & Health, 17(6), 563–577. 13557858.2012.730606 Sargeant, M., & Tucker, E. (2009). Layers of vulnerability in occupational safety and health for migrant workers: Case studies from Canada and the UK. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 7(2), 51–73. Schütte, S., Chastang, J. F., Malard, L., Parent-Thirion, A., Vermeylen, G., & Niedhammer, I. (2014). Psychosocial working conditions and psychological well-being among employees in 34 European countries. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 87(8), 897–907. Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research. American Psychologist, 65(4), 237. https:// Standing, G. (2011). The Precariat: The new dangerous class. London: Bloomsbury. Underhill, E., & Rimmer, M. (2016). Layered vulnerability: Temporary migrants in Australian horticulture. Journal of Industrial Relations, 58(5), 608–626. 0022185615600510 Wadsworth, E., Dhillon, K., Shaw, C., Bhui, K., Stansfeld, S., & Smith, A. (2006). Racial discrimination, ethnicity and work stress. Occupational Medicine, 57(1), 18–24. https://doi. org/10.1093/occmed/kql088


F. D. Bretones

Wallace, C. (2002). Opening and closing borders: Migration and mobility in east-Central Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 28(4), 603–625. 1369183021000032227 Ward, C., & Styles, I. (2003). Lost and found: Reinvention of the self-following migration. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 5(3), 349–367. Wayne, J. H., Musisca, N., & Fleeson, W. (2004). Considering the role of personality in the workfamily experience: Relationships of the big five to work-family conflict and facilitation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64(1), 108–130.

Francisco Díaz Bretones is an Associate Professor at the University of Granada (Spain), holds his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the same university. Currently he is Head of the Well-being for Individual, Society and Enterprise (WISE) research group at the University of Granada. Previously, he was associate professor at the University of Tamaulipas (Mexico). He has been Visiting Professor in several foreign universities (University of Western Ontario, Princeton University, Burgundy School of Business, among others). His research interests are focused on worker’s emotions, and especially on disadvantaged social groups such as immigrant workers, among others. He has more than 40 articles published in high impact academic journals with more than 1000 citations overall and 27 books and chapters. Also, he has participated in 12 international research projects with several European and Latin American universities, for example, in a research about Psychosocial Emergent Risks in SMEs funded by the European Commission or the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Strategies in Andalusia project.

Chapter 3

Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being Kaori Fujishiro and Annekatrin Hoppe



Migrants’ successful integration as productive members of society benefits the receiving country as a whole (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2013); therefore, migrant health has been a major public health concern in receiving countries (Benach, Muntaner, Chung, & Benavides, 2010). Health is undoubtedly important for migrants themselves because it is part of their human capital (van Dalen & Henkens, 2013): having good health, along with education and skills in demand, is necessary for migrants to maximize the benefits of migration mainly through work. New migrants are often found to be healthier than the natives in the receiving country, but their health seems to decline over time, especially in North America (Adler & Rehkopf, 2008; Jasso, 2013). The initial health advantage is considered as migrant health selection, that is, the healthier people of a country actually migrate (Jasso, Massey, Rosenzweig, & Smith, 2004). Subsequent health decline has been examined in relation to acculturation (e.g., Diez Roux et al., 2005), discrimination (e.g., Gee, Ro, Gavin, & Takeuchi, 2008; Gee, Spencer, Chen, Yip, & Takeuchi, 2007), and harsh working conditions (López-Jacob, Ahonen, García, Gil, & Benavides, 2008; Steege, Baron, Marsh, Menéndez, & Myers, 2014). While these are important lines of investigation, our understanding of the two phenomena—

K. Fujishiro (*) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH, USA e-mail: [email protected] A. Hoppe Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany e-mail: [email protected] This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

migrant health selection and decline—is hampered because of constraints in the current migrant health research. One such constraint is the exclusion of the pre-migration period. By definition, immigrants come to exist—and become a research interest—upon arrival in the receiving country. This reflects the implicit perspective of researchers who stand firmly on the soil of the receiving country and look at them from that vantage point. However, standing in the shoes of the migrant reveals a different view. Migrants1 are individuals who move from one place to another while actively living their lives. They have hopes, goals, and ambitions; weigh the pros and cons of moving; compare multiple destinations for their merits and demerits; consult with others whose lives are linked to theirs, and take various preparatory steps well before the actual physical move. These dynamic social and psychological processes are likely to impact the post-migration adaptation process, including health and well-being. However, with very few exceptions, migrant health research has focused only on post-migration experiences and their impacts on health. With a life course perspective as a guiding framework, this chapter proposes that the pre-migration phase be explicitly included in research on migrant health and well-being. Life-course perspective emphasizes human agency under the constraints of historical, social, and personal contexts (Elder, 1994). Individuals constantly make choices and take actions to build their lives as each choice and action shape the next ones. This life-long process unfolds within the historical time (e.g., the great recession of 2008), is influenced by the timing of life (e.g., age), and has impacts on linked lives (e.g., family, the significant other). Life-course perspective is useful in examining migrant health and well-being because it acknowledges both the continuity of life and changes in life while it considers long-term consequences (Edmonston, 2013). The chapter will first discuss the advantages of including the pre-migration phase in migrant health research as it reviews a small number of previous studies from a life-course perspective. The specific emphasis is on pre-migration psychosocial processes and their implications for post-migration well-being. Then some findings from a pre- and post-migration study the authors conducted will be shown, and new research questions on migration and health will be suggested. Finally, future directions—needs, challenges, and possibilities—for expanding the scope of research on migrant health and well-being will be presented.

3.2 3.2.1

The Pre-migration Phase in Migrant Health Research Migrant Health Selection and Decline: Compared to Whom?

Migration is a life-transition process that starts well before arrival in the receiving country and continues as adjustments and adaptation take place over time (Berry, 1 In this chapter, we discuss only those who have the capacity to decide where they live. We do not include children who move with the family or refugees and other involuntarily displaced persons.

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


2005). Studying migrant health and well-being, some researchers have applied lifecourse perspective to the post-migration period (e.g., multi-generational adaptation process, Clark, Glick, & Bures, 2009; Wingens, Windzio, Valk, & Aybek, 2012), but the pre-migration period has rarely been included (Spallek, Zeeb, & Razum, 2011). This exclusive focus on the post-migration period hinders researchers’ ability to assess directly the impact of migration on health and well-being. In order to capture the two phenomena in migrant health—health selection and decline— researchers need to compare migrants with their peers in the sending country who could have become migrants but did not (i.e., stayers): are migrants especially healthy compared to stayers (migrant health selection)? Do migrants develop worse health than stayers (migrant health decline)? However, most studies address these questions by comparing migrants with people in the receiving country (Kandula, Kersey, & Lurie, 2004). Migrant health selection is typically reported as the comparison between migrants and natives in the receiving country (Fig. 3.1, Arrow A). Similarly, migrant health decline is reported as the comparisons of migrants with various lengths of stay with the natives in the receiving country as the reference (Arrows A and B). Studies have found that recent migrants are healthier than the natives but that more long-term migrants are not so different from the natives or fare worse than them (e.g., Takeuchi et al., 2007), and thus migrants’ health is presumed to decline over time.

Fig. 3.1 Migrant health questions without the pre-migration consideration. Note: This diagram assumes the following for the receiving and sending countries: better average health in the receiving country than the sending country, secular trend is upward (e.g., life-expectancy increases over time in both countries) and parallel between the two countries. These assumptions need to be examined in specific comparisons


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

Jasso et al. (2004) made a commendable effort to conduct a more direct comparison. Recognizing that migrant health selection “has nothing to do with the health of the native-born of those in the receiving country” (p. 244), they used the information on life expectancies and rates of death in major sending countries in order to understand the health of newly arrived migrants in the United States. Figure 3.1 Arrow C conceptually represents the comparisons Jasso and colleagues made. They propose that migrant health research should commence immediately upon arrival with prospective follow-up. In this chapter, we expand the proposal and suggest that research starts in the sending country in order to include the pre-migration phase. Logistical challenges will be discussed later along with some promising pioneer projects, but first, the merits of taking this approach are highlighted.


Merit 1: Proper Peer Comparisons

The first merit of this expanded time frame is the opportunity to form a better comparison group (i.e., the stayers) in the sending country. International migration takes considerable resources, both in material and human capital (Sjaastad, 1962), which are also protective of health. Migrants may possess high education and material resources that make it possible to move; however, not all who have similar resources become migrants. Rather than comparing migrants to the average citizens of the sending country, researchers could make a more precise comparison between migrants and those with similar resources but do not become migrants (Fig. 3.2, Arrow A). By starting a study in the sending country, researchers have the

Fig. 3.2 Migrant health with pre-migration, cross-national, longitudinal comparisons

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


opportunity to assess characteristics of soon-to-be-migrants within their native contexts and to identify similar others who would form a proper comparison group. Investigating differences between the two groups will offer more insight into who actually migrates and if health is a determining factor for migration; in other words, migrant health selection could be directly tested. A few studies exist that compared migrants’ health with those in the sending country: their findings do not necessarily support migrant health selection. For example, Bostean (2013) reported that recent migrants from Mexico to the United States had similar odds of reporting chronic conditions with those who stayed in Mexico, but had greater odds of reporting activity limitations and poor/fair health. Comparing Mexicans who eventually migrated to the US with those who stayed, Breslau et al. (2011) found no clear patterns in the association between retrospective data on childhood physical health and eventual migration, but migrants tended to have poorer childhood mental health. In another pre-migration study, de Castro, Gee, Fujishiro, and Rue (2015) compared Filipinos who would emigrate within 12–16 months with those who would not while they were all in the Philippines. No physical health advantages were found for the soon-to-be migrants, but as for mental health, they reported more depressive symptoms and higher levels of social strain than stayers. These studies suggest that migrant health selection may not exist or may even be reversed in terms of mental health.


Merit 2: A Better Understanding of the Migration Decision-Making Process and Its Impacts on Post-migration Experiences

A second merit is the opportunity to investigate the process of migration decisionmaking while it is occurring. Comparisons of would-be-migrants and stayers will illuminate factors that differentiate them even if they are similarly situated in education and other assets for successful migration. These differentiating factors may also shed light on the post-migration process of adaptation, which has implications for health and well-being. Below is a review of a few existing studies that suggest the importance of pre-migration psychosocial processes in making the decision to migrate as well as in adapting to post-migration life.


Pre-migration Expectations and Migration Decision-Making

Migration is often conceptualized as an economic decision (i.e., earning possibility vs. cost of moving, Massey et al., 1993; Mihi-Ramírez, Rudžionis, & Kumpikaitė, 2014), but among those similarly educated and skilled, differentiating


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

factors may arise within pre-migration social and psychological processes. For example, considering and preparing for migration may cause a specific type of stress that stems from the anticipation of difficulties in the future (i.e., pre-acculturative stress, Jasinskaja-Lahti & Yijälä, 2011). In a study of migrants from Russia to Finland before the actual move took place, Jasinskaja-Lahti and colleagues reported that pre-acculturative stress had implications for pre-migration well-being (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Yijälä, 2011). It is also possible that pre-acculturative stress influences the migration decision itself. Although the actual migrants in their study did not differ from those who remained in Russia in respect to pre-migration characteristics except for language skills (Mähönen & Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2013, p. 327), those who were less equipped to cope with stress might have decided not to migrate. In such a case, the actual migrants might have been especially resilient under stress and thus able to cope well after migration. Another aspect of the pre-migration process that may influence migration decisions is positive expectations for post-migration life, especially related to work. Among similarly educated individuals, those who estimate the benefits of migration quite highly, realistically or not, may be more likely to become actual migrants. In a pre-migration study with potential migrants from Spain to Germany, Hoppe and Fujishiro (2015) found that expectations for better job prospects in the receiving country were related to taking concrete preparatory actions for migration (e.g., planning the move, sending out job applications to companies, looking for housing), which ultimately predicted actual migration within 1 year. Higher levels of career aspiration and self-efficacy—a correlate for health and well-being (Schwarzer, 2014)—were also associated with concrete preparatory actions and actual migration. Having high expectations for job prospects has been understood as a motivating factor in the traditional economic framework for labour migration; however, the role of aspiration, self-efficacy, and preparatory actions can inform migration from a lifecourse perspective, especially in light of human agency. That is, expecting high economic returns from migration may not be the full explanation for migration; rather, intricate combinations of the desire for a successful career, the ability to take goal-oriented actions, and the confidence that one’s expectations could be fulfilled seem to form a driver of migration.


Pre-migration Expectations and Post-migration Well-Being

Psychosocial characteristics that differentiate migrants from stayers are likely to have implications for post-migration adaptation and well-being. For example, pre-migration preparation may help migrants cope with acculturative stress. In a post-migration study, Gong, Xu, Fujishiro, and Takeuchi (2011) reported that those who retrospectively described their migration as well-planned had better mental health. Mähönen and Jasinskaja-Lahti (2013) found that migrants adapted well if the

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


actual experience of post-migration challenges occurred at a similar level as pre-migration expectations of post-migration difficulties. Interestingly, in their study, pessimistic expectations (i.e., anticipating more difficulties than they eventually experienced) were not associated with better adaptation. These studies suggest that realistic expectations for initial challenges may protect migrant health and wellbeing. Because anticipated better job opportunity is a major driver of migration, if the high expectations for a better job or career advancement possibilities do not materialize, migrants may experience declines in health and well-being. In a postmigration study with Spanish migrants in Germany, Wassermann and Hoppe (2020) investigated the effects of perceived over-qualification—a form of personjob mismatch which is quite common among migrant workers—on work-related well-being. Findings revealed that if Spanish migrants held jobs in Germany that were below their qualification, they experienced more depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction than those whose qualifications and work were better matched. Likewise, migrants who were overqualified for their jobs were less satisfied with their work and their own careers 6 months later (Wassermann, Fujishiro, & Hoppe, 2017). Moreover, lower job and career satisfaction associated with over-qualification were more prominent among those who had greater desire to be integrated into German society. These studies suggest that when positive expectations for migration are not fulfilled, migrants experience poorer psychological well-being, and those who are motivated to be integrated into the receiving country as productive members may suffer most from such disappointment. In these post-migration studies, however, over-qualification was assumed to be a marker for unfulfilled expectations. Bridging pre- and post-migration phases would allow more direct investigation of post-migration through the lens of pre-migration expectations. Another series of post-migration studies also call attention to pre-migration expectations and their impacts on migrant health and well-being in different migration contexts. A study of warehouse workers in ethnically diverse workplaces in the United States revealed that even though their jobs are highly comparable, Latino workers reported lower levels of job strain and better psychological well-being compared with their white co-workers (Hoppe, Heaney, & Fujishiro, 2010). In this study, most of the Latino workers were presumed to be migrants because they preferred the Spanish version of the self-administered questionnaire, which suggested schooling in a Spanish-speaking country. Similarly, white workers, all preferred English, were assumed to be U.S.-born. Because their job tasks and working conditions—strong predictors of job strain and psychological well-being– were matched for the study, one possible explanation for the difference is different expectations about the job held by Latino migrant workers and white workers. Migrant workers might have had lower expectations towards good working conditions and therefore experienced their work as less demanding, which resulted in lower levels of job strain and better psychological well-being. Another postmigration study with migrant and German postal workers (Hoppe, 2011) found that even though migrants reported more stressors in their psychosocial work environment, they did not report higher levels of job strain or poorer psychological


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

well-being. Again, lower expectations for good working conditions among migrants may explain these results. In a large cohort of migrants and U.S. natives, Fujishiro et al. (2011) reported that associations of job characteristics (i.e., job control, job demands) with job strain and general health were weak and not consistent among migrants. They attributed some of the inconsistencies to a difference in the frame of reference held by the respondents: pre-migration job experiences may have influenced the self-reported measures of job characteristics. Alternatively, migrants may have been more resilient and better able to cope with job stressors, which would provide some support for the healthy migrant effect. While these explanations seem plausible, without actually assessing expectations in the pre-migration phase, they remain speculations. Post-migration experiences can be better understood if they are framed with pre-migration expectations. Starting migration research with the pre-migration phase will allow a view of migration as a psychological phenomenon, in addition to an economic one. This is an important additional perspective given that poor mental health and well-being is common among migrants.


Merit 3: New Questions to Address in a Cross-National, Dual-Cohort Design

A third merit of starting a study in the sending country is the opportunity to elucidate migrant health trajectory in the context of global change. A fundamental question about migration is how it impacts health and well-being over time. To investigate this question requires the recognition that both migrants and stayers live their lives in the dynamic national and international contexts. In order to understand the influences of different contexts, migrants must be compared, over time, to their peers who remain in the sending country (Fig. 3.2, Arrows B and B0 ). We are not the first one to propose a comparison group in the sending country. In their review, Friis, Yngve, and Persson (1998) listed two earlier epidemiologic reviews (i.e., Kasl & Berkman, 1983; Kliewer, 1992) that proposed a cohort in the sending country. AcevedoGarcia, Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Viruell-Fuentes, and Almeida (2012) also advocate a cross-national perspective to understand “influences on health outcomes that derive from immigrants’ sending and receiving contexts and from the immigration process” (p. 2061). Gee et al. (2018) have recently formed a cross-national dual cohort in the Philippines for this purpose. Even with a proper comparison group, impacts of migration are difficult to address because not only migrants experience a new environment but their stayer peers—with whom migrants are to be compared— live in dynamic national and international contexts. Secular trends may not be similar in both countries (e.g., medical technological advances, social acceptance of smoking). Migrants may send not only remittances but cultural influences from the receiving country to the sending country and influence stayers’ experiences. At

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


the personal level, relative social standing of movers and stayers, which may have been similar in the pre-migration phase, may diverge over time as stayers remain at the upper rung in the sending country’s social ladder while movers are likely to stand, at least at the beginning, on lower rungs in the receiving country’s social ladder. Acculturative stress (Berry, 2005) and discrimination (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Yijälä, 2011) are not relevant to stayers, but if the sending country struggles as a nation, stayers may not benefit from their relatively higher social standing or lack of specific stress their migrant peers suffer. All these considerations give rise to a new set of research questions that will advance the understanding of migration and its health impacts in both receiving and sending countries. While the chapter advocates for comparing migrants with stayers, it must be clarified that comparisons of migrants with the native residents of the receiving country (Fig. 3.1, Arrows A and B) are also useful in capturing health after migration. Although their contexts of moving can be vastly different, migrants in a receiving country are often categorized together and share similar social experiences. Health impacts of migration, especially for those who stay in a country many years, are a combination of both pre- and post-migration experiences. Comparisons with the native residents in the receiving country cannot determine migrant health selection; however, such comparisons are invaluable from the health inequity perspective because migrants and native residents often have different life experiences in the same country. In summary, expanding the framework for migrant health research to include the pre-migration phase will offer the opportunity to investigate the migration as a process of human development in a broader sense than the current literature has. If researchers follow migrants and stayers over time, richer knowledge will be gained with the acknowledgment of continuity in life (i.e., migrants prepare for the move and carry resources with them) and changes in life (e.g., physical location, relative location in the social hierarchy).


Empirical Study: Pre-migration Expectations and Post-migration Well-Being

In this section, we present our transnational dual-cohort study of migration in order to demonstrate the three merits that we outlined above. First, we formed a cohort of potential migrants in the sending country so that migrant health selection could be examined by comparing those who migrated during the study period with those who did not (merit 1). Second, we focused our research questions on pre-migration psychological processes, namely, anticipations for post-migration life, as predictors of post-migration well-being (merit 2). This was informed by Jasinskaja-Lahti and colleagues’ research on pre-migration (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Yijälä, 2011; Mähönen & Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2013). We explicitly incorporated anticipations about work


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

because jobs were the foremost motivation in the specific context of our study (Spaniards migrating to Germany in recession, see below). Lastly, we investigated the initial health trajectories of migrants as well as stayers (merit 3). To fully investigate the latter issue, it would take a longer timeframe than we had (i.e., 12 months); however, by measuring health and well-being of both migrants and stayers at two time points between which some migrated, we were able to investigate migration as an “exposure” that stayers did not have. With this analytic framework, the impacts of migration itself could be tested.


Young Spaniards Moving to Germany in Recession

After the Eurozone crisis of 2009, Germany’s robust economy attracted a large number of migrants from struggling European Union countries such as Spain. In 2012, there was a 45% increase in Spaniards moving to Germany compared to 2011 (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2012). This was partly fuelled by the national effort in Germany to encourage well-qualified Spaniards to fill jobs in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (i.e., STEM jobs). With this as a backdrop, we recruited a cohort of potential migrants at German language schools in two major cities in Spain.2 Our sample of 239 Spaniards—28 migrated to Germany within 12 months, and 211 remained in Spain—was relatively young (mean age ¼ 30.6), healthy (only 1.7% self-rated health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’), and welleducated (77% with at least a Bachelor’s degree). In other words, they represented the segment of the population severely affected by the economic downturn and yet possessed high human capital to expect reasonable returns of migration.


Is There Migrant Health Selection?

We first compare the health of migrants and stayers in our sample. At baseline, the distribution across health categories was very similar for migrants and non-migrants (Table 3.1); that is, we did not observe evidence for migrant health selection. Interestingly, at follow-up migrants maintained their good to excellent health whereas non-migrants’ health distribution seemed to have shifted slightly downward. The difference is more clearly seen in the regression results: migrants had significantly better self-rated health 12 months later than those who did not migrate (Table 3.2), not because the migrants’ health improved but rather because the non-migrants’ health had declined. This suggests that, in the specific context of our study, not migrating might have been detrimental to general health. Even though they lived in the same global economic situation, had high education, were learning


Details of recruitment and data collection can be found in Hoppe and Fujishiro (2015).

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


Table 3.1 Self-rated health and depressive symptoms at baseline and 12 months later by migration status Characteristic Baseline Self-rated health Excellent Very good Good Fair Poor Depressive symptomsa, mean (SD) 12-month follow-up Self-rated health Excellent Very good Good Fair Poor Depressive symptoms, mean (SD) a

Migrants (n ¼ 28)

9 14 5 0 0 1.41

10 12 6 0 0 1.69

(32.1%) (50.0%) (17.9%) (0.0%) (0.0%) (.48)

(35.7%) (42.9%) (21.4%) (0.0%) (0.0%) (0.68)

Non-migrants (n ¼ 211)

59 100 47 4 0 1.30

41 81 74 13 1 1.35

(28.1%) (47.6%) (22.4%) (1.9%) (0.0%) (.40)

(19.5%) (38.6%) (35.2%) (6.2%) (0.5%) (0.46)

Test statistic, p-value χ2(3, N ¼ 238) ¼ 0.94, p ¼ 0.82

t(236) ¼ 1.40, p ¼ 0.16

χ2 (4, N ¼ 238) ¼ 6.41, p ¼ 0.17

t(236) ¼ 3.44, p < 0.01

Measured with the Center for Epidemiologist Study of Depression (CESD-4) Scales; Range 1–4

the German language, and had similar positive expectations for moving to Germany as the migrants did (Hoppe & Fujishiro, 2015), the non-migrants did not take action to change their situation. This may have taken a toll on their general health. The health costs of not migrating is a new angle in research on migration and health. As for depressive symptoms, mean scores were low for both migrants and non-migrants at baseline, but at follow-up, migrants reported significantly more depressive symptoms than non-migrants (Table 3.1). The poorer mental health among migrants is consistent with another pre-migration study (i.e., de Castro et al., 2015). In the existing literature, poor mental health is typically reported for those who have lived many years in the receiving country (e.g., Breslau et al., 2007) and thus post-migration experiences have been investigated as risk factors (Kirmayer et al., 2011). Our finding, along with the de Castro study, suggests that a closer investigation on pre-migration and early post-migration phases would inform migrant mental health trajectory. More specifically, as Mähönen and JasinskajaLahti (2013) argue, the interplay of pre-migration anticipations and post-migration experiences deserves more attention in the research of migrant health and wellbeing.


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

Table 3.2 Results of multiple regression predicting self-rated health at 12-month follow-up (n ¼ 239) Independent variable Migratedb Anticipated . . . Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Migrated x anticipated . . . Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Experienced . . .c Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Adjusted R2 p for ΔR2

Self-rated healtha at follow-up B SE p B SE 0.35 0.15 0.02 0.41 0.16

p 0.01

B 0.42

SE 0.16

p 0.01

0.00 0.05 0.07 0.05

0.06 0.06 0.11 0.08

1.00 0.42 0.53 0.54

0.03 0.05 0.08 0.04

0.07 0.06 0.12 0.09

0.66 0.42 0.48 0.69

0.03 0.05 0.08 0.04

0.07 0.06 0.12 0.09

0.66 0.42 0.48 0.68










0.27 0.11 0.32 0.10

0.22 0.21 0.39 0.27

0.22 0.60 0.42 0.70

0.20 0.14 0.35 0.17

0.24 0.25 0.40 0.34

0.42 0.56 0.38 0.61







0.03 0.13 0.38 0.10

0.15 0.22 0.41 0.41

0.85 0.56 0.35 0.82

0.25 0.33 0.87



0.35 0.00

0.34 0.69

Note: In all models, age, gender, education and baseline self-rated health were controlled for. B ¼ unstandardized linear regression coefficient; SE ¼ standard error a Continuous variable b 0 ¼ not migrate, 1 ¼ migrated c Conditionally relevant variable that only applies to those migrated; all other variables are for the entire sample


Anticipation and Post-migration Well-Being

Although migrants had maintained general good health at follow-up, their postmigration mental health was poorer than those who did not migrate. Our regression analysis revealed that two types of positive anticipations—one about jobs, the other about life in general—had significant associations with post-migration mental health, but in different directions (Table 3.3). High anticipations for better job situations were protective of post-migration mental health whereas high anticipations for enjoyable life were detrimental. The different associations might reflect the migrants’ expectations as to when these benefits could be obtained. After only a few

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


Table 3.3 Results of multiple regression predicting depressive symptoms at 12-month follow-up (n ¼ 239) Independent variable Migratedb Anticipated . . . Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Migrated x anticipated . . . Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Experienced. . .c Job benefits Life benefits Daily life challenges Communication challenges Bureaucracies challenges Adjusted R2 p for ΔR2

Depressive symptomsa at follow-up B SE p B SE 0.26 0.10 0.01 0.24 0.10

p 0.02

B 0.23

SE 0.10

p 0.02

0.03 0.01 0.02 0.03

0.04 0.04 0.07 0.05

0.51 0.73 0.75 0.58

0.01 0.01 0.05 0.04

0.04 0.04 0.07 0.06

0.85 0.87 0.51 0.51

0.01 0.01 0.05 0.04

0.04 0.04 0.07 0.06

0.80 0.89 0.50 0.48










0.37 0.27 0.30 0.03

0.14 0.13 0.25 0.17

0.01 0.04 0.24 0.86

0.31 0.34 0.30 0.22

0.15 0.15 0.25 0.21

0.04 0.03 0.23 0.29







0.02 0.11 0.45 0.83

0.09 0.14 0.25 0.26

0.82 0.43 0.08 0.00

0.09 0.24 0.00



0.17 0.00

0.20 0.06

Note: In all models, age, gender, education, and baseline depressive symptoms were controlled for. B ¼ unstandardized linear regression coefficient; SE ¼ standard error a Continuous variable b 0 ¼ not migrate, 1 ¼ migrated c Conditionally relevant variable that only applies to those migrated; all other variables are for the entire sample

months in Germany, migrants might not expect to have a great career at hand. Rather, the benefit of moving to Germany would come later in the form of higher human capital, which would lead to better career options over time (Paul, 2011). Thus, higher anticipations for job benefits may have had a longer time span, and the hopeful thinking for future career development may have had protective effects for some duration. Enjoyable life, on the other hand, may have been expected as an immediate experience right after settling into a new country. The longer-term prospect, as well as personal resources (e.g., goal orientation and problem-focused coping associated with the act of migration itself), may have protected the migrant for a short term. However, if the long-term goal could not be achieved, and/or the


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

immediate challenges of sociocultural adaptation did not go away, migrants might experience a decline in health and well-being. The common finding of migrants’ declining health over time might be explained by mismatched anticipation and reality. Negative anticipations for post-migration life, such as having difficulty making friends, communicating with Germans, and dealing with bureaucracy, were not associated with post-migration depressive symptoms (Table 3.3). This lack of association may be explained by the migrants’ preparation activity. Gong et al. (2011) argue that by anticipating challenges, migrants would mobilize financial and sociocultural resources (e.g., learning the language, strengthening social networks in the receiving country) before the move, and thereby being able to reduce the stress associated with the move itself. Investigating these preparation activities systematically can help design effective intervention programs for protecting migrant health. As for the actual experiences, communication challenges were associated with higher depressive symptoms, which was in line with the previous studies reporting the proficiency in the receiving-country language as the most important predictor of migrants’ psychological adaptation (e.g., Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2008). In our sample, experienced challenges in daily life (e.g., making friends, finding foods that you enjoy) tended to be associated with less depressive symptoms. This might be because those who were less depressed would go out and explore the new environment and as a result encountered more challenges. However, with the small number of actual migrants and only one wave of post-migration data, we were not able to explore more.


Emerging Questions

Our dual-cohort transnational study of pre- and post-migration did not support the migrant health selection hypothesis. This is consistent with the few existing studies that compared recent or soon-to-be migrants with others who stay in the sending country (i.e., Bostean, 2013; Breslau et al., 2011; de Castro et al., 2015). So far largescale studies are limited to Mexicans moving to the US (i.e., Bostean, 2013; Breslau et al., 2011), and the de Castro study with Filipinos and our study with Spaniards are small in scale. More studies with broad contexts of migration are needed to contest, or confirm migrant health selection. Because the phenomenon can be properly examined only by comparing migrants and stayers (Jasso et al., 2004), future studies must involve people in the sending country. Our study findings suggest new research questions that would not become apparent from a sole focus on post-migration period: the health impact of not migrating, different impacts of pre-migration anticipations on post-migration health and well-being, and potential difference in the expected time frame in which different types of positive anticipations are to be fulfilled. These are in addition to previously suggested important pre-migration aspects such as preparation before the

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


actual move (Gong et al., 2011) and concordance between pre-migration anticipation and post-migration experience (Mähönen & Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2013). Only with preand post-migration data, are these investigations possible. Migration is not simply an economic action but a process of human development influenced by person-level processes of motivation, expectations, and preparation. By designing a study in the sending country with both eventual migrants and non-migrants, we can examine migration in a much more nuanced, dynamic way. The next section will discuss the challenges and prospects for such research.


Outlook: Challenges and Possibilities for Conducting Migration Studies with the Pre-migration Phase

Even though the merits of conducting transnational dual cohort studies are appealing, such projects no doubt involve major challenges in terms of resources and logistics. Reviewing the few pioneering projects suggest that with careful forethought and flexible planning some of the challenges can be overcome. The most detailed account of lessons learned is given by Gee, de Castro, Wang, Crespi, and Fujishiro (2015). Here we summarize strategies used in other studies and suggest future directions. First and foremost, international partnerships are imperative to forming pre-migration cohorts. Partners can be found in countries and communities in which social forces of emigration historically exist or are emerging. The Mexican Migration Project (MMP), for example, is a collaboration between two academic institutions, one in Mexico and the other in the United States (Durand & Massey, 2004), two countries with a long history of migration. Starting in 1982, MMP has been collecting household data in migrant-sending communities in Mexico and receiving communities in the US. Originally designed for an ethnographic and sociological understanding of migration, MMP in 2007 started collecting health data, which allowed for direct testing of migrant health selection (Ullmann, Goldman, & Massey, 2011). For their study of ethnic Finns in Russia moving to Finland, Jasinskaja-Lahti and colleagues recruited potential migrants at Finnish language learning sessions in Russia organized by the Finnish authorities as part of the immigration training program (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Yijälä, 2011). Hoppe and Fujishiro (2015) worked with German language schools in Spain in the aftermath of the 2009 European economic crisis in which professional labour migration from Spain to Germany was especially encouraged. Gee and colleagues partnered with the Commission for Filipinos Overseas (CFO), a Philippine government agency that regulates all legal permanent emigration, to recruit Filipinos who were fulfilling the last requirement (i.e., attending a pre-departure training seminar) to migrate to the United States (Gee et al., 2015, 2018). These partner organizations not only can give researchers access to potential migrants but also can serve as a vehicle for providing


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

services informed by research findings in order to achieve their mission of supporting émigrés. While these studies were designed to collect primary data, there are opportunities for secondary data analysis as well. In countries and regions with a tradition of emigration, existing population health surveys can provide opportunities for migration studies with a new angle. An example of the creative use of existing health surveys is Breslau and colleagues’ project (2011). They used the Mexico National Comorbidity Survey in combination with two US national surveys, the US National Comorbidity Survey and National Latino and Asian American Survey. Although they did not follow migrants and stayers over time, the combined data enabled them to examine migrants in the US, return migrants (i.e., back in Mexico), and non-migrants. Similar opportunities may exist in the European Union. EU’s open borders make it possible for citizens of all EU member states to move across national borders to live and work. This has encouraged human mobility within the EU tremendously (Recchi & Favell, 2009), including short-term migration (and return) and migration to multiple receiving countries in succession. Ongoing EU surveys could be used to examine various aspects of migration and health. For example, the European Social Survey (ESS, and European Working Conditions Survey ( european-working-conditions-surveys) both collect data on the country of birth, and if it is different from the country of residence, ESS asks when the respondent migrated. While this information only captures actual migrants, it may not be too cost-prohibitive to ask intentions about migration to identify potential migrants. This additional information would immediately offer various analysis possibilities because of the rich data already collected in these established international surveys. Moreover, once migrants, either actual or potential, are identified in these surveys, researchers could follow-up with the more specific purpose of studying migration and health longitudinally. An excellent example is Rubalcava and colleague’s project (Rubalcava, Teruel, Thomas, & Goldman, 2008) using the Mexican Family Life Survey. This 2002 nationally representative household survey of Mexicans collected follow-up data in 2005 from original respondents, including those who had since moved to the United States. With this cross-national dual cohort (i.e., including both movers and stayers), Rubalcava and colleagues were able to directly examine migrant health selection. Resource constraints may well have been a major reason for migrant health research to be focused only on the post-migration phase. However, once we embrace the advantages of conducting such studies, we may be able to garner needed resources from various sources previously untapped; and with new partnerships and stakeholders, logistical challenges may be overcome. Sending and receiving countries both have a stake in migrants’ successful adaptation. Conducting more comprehensive migration studies will help migrants better prepare for postmigration life as well as inform both sending and receiving societies how to better support migrants. Identifying stakeholders and developing a shared vision among them will be the most promising direction for future migration research with a lifecourse perspective.

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


Disclaimer The findings and conclusions in this chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

References Acevedo-Garcia, D., Sanchez-Vaznaugh, E. V., Viruell-Fuentes, E. A., & Almeida, J. (2012). Integrating social epidemiology into immigrant health research: A cross-national framework. Social Science and Medicine, 75(12), 2060–2068. 040 Adler, N. E., & Rehkopf, D. H. (2008). U.S. disparities in health: Descriptions, causes, and mechanisms. Annual Review of Public Health, 29, 235–252. Benach, J., Muntaner, C., Chung, H., & Benavides, F. G. (2010). Immigration, employment relations, and health: Developing a research agenda. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53, 338–343. Berry, J. W. (2005). Acculturation: Living successfully in two cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(6), 697–712. Bostean, G. (2013). Does selective migration explain the Hispanic Paradox? A comparative analysis of Mexicans in the U.S. and Mexico. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15, 624–635. Breslau, J., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Borges, G., Kendler, K. S., Su, M., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). Risk for psychiatric disorder among immigrants and their US-born descendants: Evidence from the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 195(3), 189–195. Breslau, J., Borges, G., Tancredi, D., Saito, N., Anderson, H., Kravitz, R., et al. (2011). Health selection among migrants from Mexico to the U.S.: Childhood predictors of adult physical and mental health. Public Health Reports, 126(3), 361–370. Clark, R. L., Glick, J. E., & Bures, R. M. (2009). Immigrant families over the life course: Research directions and needs. Journal of Family Issues, 30(6), 852–872. de Castro, A., Gee, G., Fujishiro, K., & Rue, T. (2015). Examining pre-migration health among Filipino nurses. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17(6), 1670–1678. Diez Roux, A. V., Detrano, R., Jackson, S., Jacobs Jr., D. R., Schreiner, P. J., Shea, S., et al. (2005). Acculturation and socioeconomic position as predictors of coronary calcification in a multiethnic sample. Circulation, 112, 1557–1565. Durand, J., & Massey, D. S. (2004). Appendix: The Mexican migration project. Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project, 321–336. Edmonston, B. (2013). Lifecourse perspectives on immigration. Canadian Studies in Population, 40(1–2), 1–8. Elder Jr., G. H. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: Perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 4–15. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (2013). Priorities for occupational safety and health research in Europe: 2013–2020. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Friis, R., Yngve, A., & Persson, V. (1998). Review of social epidemiologic research on migrants’ health: Findings, methodological cautions, and theoretical perspectives. Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine, 26(3), 173–180. Fujishiro, K., Landsbergis, P. A., Diez-Roux, A. V., Stukovsky, K. H., Shrager, S., & Baron, S. (2011). Factorial invariance, scale reliability, and construct validity of the job control and job demands scales for immigrant workers: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 13(3), 533–540.


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

Gee, G. C., de Castro, A. B., Crespi, C. M., Wang, M. C., Llave, K., Brindle, E., et al. (2018). Health of Philippine emigrants study (HoPES): Study design and rationale. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 771. Gee, G. C., de Castro, A. B., Wang, M. C., Crespi, C. M., & Fujishiro, K. (2015). Feasibility of conducting a longitudinal, transnational study of Filipino migrants to the United States: A dualcohort design. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 26, 488–504. Gee, G. C., Ro, A., Gavin, A., & Takeuchi, D. T. (2008). Disentangling the effects of racial and weight discrimination on body mass index and obesity among Asian Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 98(3), 493–500. Gee, G. C., Spencer, M. S., Chen, J., Yip, T., & Takeuchi, D. (2007). The association between selfreported racial discrimination and 12-month DSM-IV mental disorders among Asian Americans nationwide. Social Science & Medicine, 64, 1984–1996. Gong, F., Xu, J., Fujishiro, K., & Takeuchi, D. (2011). Exploring the effects of human agency in migration on mental health outcomes among Asian immigrants: A life course perspective. Social Science & Medicine, 73, 1618–1626. Hoppe, A. (2011). Psychosocial working conditions and well-being among immigrant and German low-wage workers. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(2), 187–201. Hoppe, A., & Fujishiro, K. (2015). The role of self-efficacy and anticipated job benefits in predicting migration decision-making and actual migration. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 47, 13–27. Hoppe, A., Heaney, C. A., & Fujishiro, K. (2010). Stressors, resources, and well-being among Latino and White warehouse workers in the United States. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(3), 252–263. Jasinskaja-Lahti, I. (2008). Long-term immigrant adaptation: Eight-year follow-up study among immigrants from Russia and Estonia living in Finland. International Journal of Psychology, 43 (1), 6–18. Jasinskaja-Lahti, I., & Yijälä, A. (2011). The model of pre-acculturative stress—A pre-migration study of potential migrants from Russia to Finland. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(4), 499–510. Jasso, G. (2013). Migration and health. In S. J. Gold & S. J. Nawyn (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of migration studies (pp. 366–379). London: Routledge. Jasso, G., Massey, D. S., Rosenzweig, M. R., & Smith, J. P. (2004). Immigrant health: Selectivity and acculturation. In N. B. Anderson, R. A. Bulatao, & B. Cohen (Eds.), Critical perspectives on racial and ethnic differences in health in late life (pp. 227–266). Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Kandula, N. R., Kersey, M., & Lurie, N. (2004). Assuring the health of immigrants: What the leading health indicators tell us. Annual Review of Public Health, 25, 357–376. Kasl, S. V., & Berkman, L. (1983). Health consequences of the experience of migration. Annual Review of Public Health, 4(1), 69–90. Kirmayer, L. J., Narasiah, L., Munoz, M., Rashid, M., Ryder, A. G., Guzder, J., et al. (2011). Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: General approach in primary care. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 183(12), E959–E967. Kliewer, E. (1992). Epidemiology of diseases among migrants. International Migration, 30, 141–165. López-Jacob, M., Ahonen, E., García, A. M., Gil, Á., & Benavides, F. G. (2008). Comparación de las lesiones por accidente de trabajo en trabajadores extranjeros y españoles por actividad económica y comunidad autónoma (España, 2005) [Occupational injury in foreing workers by economic activity and autonomous community (Spain, 2005)]. Revista Española de Salud Pública, 82(2), 179–187. Mähönen, T. A., & Jasinskaja-Lahti, I. (2013). Acculturation expectations and experiences as predictors of ethnic migrants’ psychological well-being. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 786–806.

3 Toward a Life-Course Perspective of Migrant Worker Health and Well-Being


Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1993). Theories of international migration: A review and appraisal. Population and Development Review, 19, 431–466. Mihi-Ramírez, A., Rudžionis, A., & Kumpikaitė, V. (2014). European economic migration flow, earnings and unemployment in decade of 2000. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 110, 122–129. Paul, A. M. (2011). Stepwise international migration: A multistage migration pattern for the aspiring migrant. American Journal of Sociology, 116, 1842–1886. Recchi, E., & Favell, A. (2009). Pioneers of European integration: Citizenship and mobility in the EU. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Rubalcava, L. N., Teruel, G. M., Thomas, D., & Goldman, N. (2008). The healthy migrant effect: New findings from the Mexican family life survey. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 78–84. Schwarzer, R. (2014). Self-efficacy: Thought control of action. London: Routledge. Sjaastad, L. A. (1962). The costs and returns of human migration. Journal of political Economy, 70 (5, Part 2), 80–93. Spallek, J., Zeeb, H., & Razum, O. (2011). What do we have to know from migrants’ past exposures to understand their health status? A life course approach. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 8 (1), 6. Statistisches Bundesamt. (2012). Fachserie 1, Bevölkerung und Erwerbstätigkeit, Reihe 2, Ausländische Bevölkerung – Ergebnisse des Ausländerzentralregisters 2011 [Subject-matter series 1, Population and employment, Series 2, Foreign population – Results of the central register of foreign nationals 2011]. Retrieved from Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200117004.pdf? __blob¼publicationFile Steege, A. L., Baron, S. L., Marsh, S. M., Menéndez, C. C., & Myers, J. R. (2014). Examining occupational health and safety disparities using national data: A cause for continuing concern. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57(5), 527–538. Takeuchi, D. T., Zane, N., Hong, S., Chae, D. H., Gong, F., Gee, G. C., et al. (2007). Immigrationrelated factors and mental disorders among Asian Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 84–90. Ullmann, S. H., Goldman, N., & Massey, D. S. (2011). Healthier before they migrate, less healthy when they return? The health of returned migrants in Mexico. Social Science and Medicine, 73 (3), 421–428. van Dalen, H. P., & Henkens, K. (2013). Explaining emigration intentions and behaviour in the Netherlands, 2005-10. Population Studies-A Journal of Demography, 67(2), 225–241. https:// Wassermann, M., Fujishiro, K., & Hoppe, A. (2017). The effect of perceived overqualification on job satisfaction and career satisfaction among immigrants: Does host national identity matter? International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 61, 77–87. Wassermann, M., & Hoppe, A. (2020). Perceived overqualification and psychological well-being among immigrants: The moderating role of personal resources. Journal of Personnel Psychology., 18, 34–45. Wingens, M., Windzio, M., Valk, H. D., & Aybek, C. (2012). A life-course perspective on migration and integration. Dordrecht: Springer.


K. Fujishiro and A. Hoppe

Kaori Fujishiro is a Senior Research Epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States. Her research focuses on dynamic and complex relationships between demographic characteristics, such as being an immigrant or racial/ethnic minority, and socioeconomic contexts manifested through work. In her recent publications, Dr. Fujishiro points out limitations in the way “occupation” is used in epidemiologic studies and suggests an overarching framework that explicitly embraces the complexity of work, workplace, and society. She emphasizes that occupational health research must recognize socio-political contexts in which work is embedded so that solutions for health inequity will encompass socio-political actions. Annekatrin Hoppe is Professor for Occupational Health Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. She obtained her Diploma and PhD in Psychology from the University of Hamburg and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University. Her research in occupational health psychology focuses on psychosocial working conditions and well-being among immigrant workers, ethnic health disparities and the effects of cultural diversity on employee health and well-being. She also investigates the effects of (web-based) resource-oriented interventions in the workplace on personal resources and employee well-being.

Chapter 4

Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a People-Based Strategic Human Resource Management Amelia Manuti



In recent years, countries have been involved in a process of social and cultural integration because of increasing global immigration. This situation may result in a culture clash if individuals belonging to host country are not ready to accept and integrate immigrants into their own culture, who may, in turn, feel alienated and or even discriminated against (Nishii & Özbilgin, 2007). A context where this process becomes more visible is the workplace where migrant workers might be seen in two different ways. On the one hand, workers from developed countries who are highly educated, over-qualified, hold managerial position are regarded as a “talent” that the organization ought to manage strategically, in order to capitalise on their strengths. As such, recent trends in human resource management (HRM) have tended to focus on diversity management and cross-cultural management (Guo & Al Ariss, 2015; Hodgetts & Luthans, 2003; Shen, Chanda, D’Netto, & Monga, 2009). On the other hand, when workers come from poor and/or under-developed countries, they are often subject to acts of discrimination and are often employed in jobs that are below their actual levels of skill acquisition, e.g. as manual labourers. This occurs because even if migrants are educated and skilled workers with many years of experience in a specific professional field, they often cannot legally certify their knowledge and skills, as a result of several life, political and religious

A. Manuti (*) Department of Education, Psychology, Communication, University “Aldo Moro” of Bari, Bari, Italy e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



A. Manuti

conditions that have led them to flee their countries. Consequently, organizations cannot fully exploit their huge potential (Findler, Wind, & Mor Barak, 2007). Therefore, given that knowledge is a precious intangible asset that can make a difference to consumer markets, organizations need to recognize the added value that migrants might bring in terms of strategic performance. In this vein, a crucial role is played by the Human Resource function since it can contribute to the design and promote work contexts and practices that enable migrants to apply their prior expertise and use this knowledge to develop new core skills in the workplace. This becomes a priority to align the peculiar potentialities of migrants with those of their colleagues in line with the wider organizational demands. To a larger extent this effort is mainly consistent with the people-based approach to Strategic Human Resource Management described in the chapter.


The Added Value of a People-Based Approach to Strategic Human Resource Management

Innovation, organizational performance, competitiveness, business success, are only some of the keywords that scholars, as well as practitioners, currently use to describe the turbulent and frenetic pace of the labour market. It is evident that the world is rapidly changing under the economic pressure of globalisation and the technological revolution brought about by the digitalisation of organizational processes. As a result, new challenges are posed to workers who are constantly called to adapt their attitudes, skills, and behaviours to heavy and often unpredictable job demands. Over the past few decades research in the field of Human Resource Management (HRM) has focused attention on the need to understand how to support individuals and organizations to cope with this brand-new context. Accordingly, if workers are considered the most precious and distinctive capital of organizations, an ‘intangible’ asset that ought to be nourished and enhanced, on the other hand, the pressure of markets and global competition often pushes organizations to bypass this consideration for the sake of economic survival. However, based on the huge amount of empirical evidence in the field (Fernandez, Montes, & Vasquez, 2000; Lepak & Snell, 2002; Lepak, Takeuchi, & Snell, 2003; Ray, Barney, & Muhanna, 2004; Wright, Gardner, & Moynihan, 2003), it is undebatable whether human capital, as a person-specific heritage of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform so as to produce an economic value, is vital for organizations. Yet, according to the resource-based view of firms (Wright, McMahan, & McWilliams, 1994), human capital, namely employees’ competencies, are one category of possible resources that enable firms to achieve performance and competitiveness. This perspective, which aims achieve a balance of the so-called soft and hard strategic HRM approaches, provides a theoretical and practical framework for reconciling the interests of organizations with those of their employees (Boxall,

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


1999). Because human capital is considered a distinctive and valuable asset that needs to be enhanced and developed in order to be beneficial for both employees and organizations alike The resource-based approach, namely a people-based view of the organization, is more moderate and realistic compared to other hard approaches, focused exclusively on market-driven and cost-reducing management strategies. In such a context, a competitive advantage (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2006) derives from the unique combination of attracting and retaining competent workers, and consistent HR policies and practices addressed to investing in them (Boxall, 1999). This view of the Person/Organization relationship is also attuned with the emergence of a Strategic Approach to the Management (SHRM) of people, which is overtly in contrast with the traditional management practices or industrial relations models (Delery & Shaw, 2001). Strategic Human Resource Management focuses on human resource programs with long-term objectives. Instead of focusing on internal human resource issues, the focus is on addressing and solving problems that impact on people management programs in the long run and often globally. In line with these assumptions, the key features of SHRM are an explicit linkage between HR policy and practices and overall organizational strategic aims and the organizational environment and the involvement of human resources within most of the decisionmaking processes. A strategic management approach to people in organizations assumes that an organization gains competitive advantage by using its people effectively, drawing on their expertise to meet well-defined objectives. The strategic orientation of the business then requires the effective orientation of human resources to performance excellence. A valuable contribution to this debate is given by Positive Organizational Behaviour (POB), which is a quite recent stream of research within psychology that studies the individual and contextual features that enable individuals and communities to thrive, being a real competitive advantage for organizations. The focus of POB is the need to integrate theory and research about human resource strengths and psychological capacities with effective applications of such knowledge in organizational contexts (Luthans, 2002; Luthans & Youssef, 2007). Accordingly, this positive approach allows psychology to meet management and business, helping organizations to create sustainable performance outcomes (Spreitzer & Porath, 2012). The aim of the chapter is to adopt this perspective in order to become familiar with the peculiarities of managing migrant workers in organizations.


Migrant Workers as Precious Human Capital for Organizations

In current times, phenomena such as the globalisation of markets and consequent increasing mobility of people in the labour market have radically changed the face of the workforce shedding a light on the need to consider this group of workers as one


A. Manuti

of the main targets of most HR practices. Migrant, international or expatriate workers, as the literature differently label them, are becoming a priority for most organizations interested in integrating them into their culture, thus managing their potential in line with the company’s mission and vision (Guo & Al Ariss, 2015). As acknowledged by many scholars there is much debate about the definition of the term ‘migrant’ in the field of HRM, since the boundaries between terms such as self-initiated expatriates (SIEs), qualified immigrants and skilled migrants seem to be blurred (Al Ariss & Crowley-Henry, 2013; Andresen, Bergdolt, Margenfeld, & Dickmann, 2014). Andresen et al. (2014) propose to define a migrant as an individual who moves from one geographical location to another, crossing national borders and changing the place of residence. Furthermore, international migrations can be either self-initiated or obligatory and can be work-related or non-work related. However, even if migrants share ‘international mobility’ as a common factor, they are not a homogeneous group as they may come from various cultural, ethnic and educational backgrounds. Yet, sub-groups exist within this group with different skills and work experiences, which present different challenges to host organizations and countries (Dietz, 2010; Doherty, 2013; Kofman, 2000; Suutari & Brewster, 2000). Therefore, migrants can be either ‘qualified immigrants’ if they initiate their own risky and unpredictable international career moves because of career and life transitions (Zikic, Bonache, & Cerdin, 2010) or if they are university-educated people who have moved on a permanent basis to work in countries other than their own (Cerdin, Diné, & Brewster, 2014) or finally they can be ‘skilled migrants’ whenever they are highly educated and experienced individuals (Al Ariss & Syed, 2011). Recently, distinctive criteria have been proposed to bring more clarity to these definitions of internationally mobile workers (Al Ariss, 2010; Andresen et al., 2014; Cerdin & Selmer, 2014). These features include the geographical origin and destination of the international migration, the voluntary/forced nature of the movement, the period of stay abroad and the symbolic status of a migrant as compared to an international worker in a host country (Al Ariss, 2010). Summing up all the contributions to this debate, three terms recur in the literature when examining international mobility: corporate expatriation, self-initiated expatriation (SIE), and migration. Corporate expatriates are generally defined as workers who are assigned an international destination by their companies (Brewster & Scullion, 2007), conversely, self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) travel internationally on their own initiative following self-directed career plans and/or personal and family needs (Cerdin & Pargneux, 2010; Jokinen, Brewster, & Suutari, 2008). The main difference between corporate expatriates and SIEs is that the corporate expatriation literature considers a career to be an organizational process, a shared responsibility between the organization and the individual, while in the case of the SIE, a career becomes the responsibility of the individual. Finally, there is also an implicit difference between a migrant and a SIE. Accordingly, the term ‘migrant’ is generally used in the management literature to refer to the mobility of ‘diverse’ workers, namely workers from ethnicities with stronger ethnic stereotypes (Berry & Bell, 2012). On the other hand, SIEs are described in more positive terms, namely as workers who have

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


deliberately chosen to expatriate and then they are considered as being open to experience and motivated to integrate themselves with the hosting context (Peltokorpi & Jintae Froese, 2009). The consequent conclusion that comes out of the literature on SIEs is that this label often contrasts with the label ‘migrant’ which is preferably associated with non-white low-skilled workers (Berry & Bell, 2012). Further, according to this perspective, there are four main assumptions that implicitly guide different streams of research on international mobility, consequently impacting on HRM interventions in this field. The first assumption states that, unlike SIEs, migrants cannot fully manage their careers. They are often described as oppressed (Essers, Benschop, & Doorewaard, 2010) and discriminated (Bell, Kwesiga, & Berry, 2010) and generally as individuals who are unable to overcome the difficult living conditions imposed upon them both in their home and in the host countries. In view of this evidence, their professional experience is often a chaotic patchwork that is mostly independent of their choices, abilities, and vocations (Al Ariss & Syed, 2011). This research perspective addresses the macro-structural conditions of international mobility, thus neglecting individuals’ ability to make choices and to be proactive in managing their life events even in a context of changes and constraints (Özbilgin, Beauregard, Tatli, & Bell, 2011). A second implicit assumption regards SIEs. Different from migrants, SIEs are described as flexible and resourceful workers, always ready to adapt to different cultures and contexts (Dickmann & Baruch, 2011). Therefore, unlike migrants, SIEs are described as workers who have developed a clear career plan, and are able to make career choices (Carr, 2010; Carr, Inkson, & Thorn, 2005). The latter line of research focuses on the micro-individual level in international mobility. However, empirical evidence supporting the distinction between SIEs and migrants in terms of agency versus lack of agency are very weak. Indeed, both groups have been successful in crossing boundaries and accessing a new lives and careers in a new national context. Finally, the third assumption recurrent in the literature postulates that context and history have little importance in studying international mobility. This assumption derives from the fact that most international careers are exported from West European and North American countries. Thus, drawing conclusions that are valid for a specific cultural context and generalising them to other regional or cultures (Andresen, Al Ariss, Walther, & Wolff, 2012; Chudzikowski & Mayrhofer, 2011) could lead to the production of certain stereotypes, as is the case for many studies that juxtapose ‘migrants’ and ‘SIEs’, and categorise them as ‘bad’ versus ‘good’. Besides, given the plurality of approaches and the different perspectives introduced by the literature, it is evident that international mobility is rapidly becoming a key issue within HRM research and practice. Indeed, growing attention to the people-based approach in HRM has emphasized the central role that migrant workers might play for organizations, as a valuable part of its human capital, underlining at the same time their condition of extreme vulnerability, and consequently posing new challenges in terms of management practices. Accordingly, vulnerability is as important for the workers, in terms of well-being and health, as


A. Manuti

well as for the organization, often being a cost when confronted with the challenge of competitiveness and success. In view of this, moving from the considerations drawn earlier and overcoming the motivations that have led migrant workers to expatriate, many scholars have investigated the unstable conditions that migrant workers have to cope with: work insecurity, under-employment, precarious work conditions, inadequate income and a pervasive career uncertainty (Burgess & Connell, 2006; Reitz, 2001; Zikic et al., 2010). But, despite these issues, previous research has mostly concentrated on problems rather than on solutions to address the vulnerability of migrants in the workplace. A valuable contribution in this direction is represented by a relational human resource perspective to migrant workers, considering the interaction between the national, the employment, the network and the individual levels of complexity of migrants’ conditions that might interfere with their integration in the organizational context (Syed, 2008; Syed & Özbilgin, 2009; Turchick-Hakak & Al Ariss, 2013). Therefore, according to this perspective, given the complex and multi-faceted nature of current organizations, to adopt standardized diversity management interventions could be deleterious. Conversely, it is crucial that organizations carefully consider the national and cultural origin of these workers as well as their personal attributes and attitudes that can make them vulnerable in the workplace (e.g. career motivation, resilience, acculturation attitude, etc.) in order to address the issue of international mobility and the management implications of a multicultural workforce. If on the one hand, it is inevitable that migrants become a pool of international HRs, very few studies that have investigated if and to what extent organizations are prepared to master the challenges of managing this group of individuals (Guo & Al Ariss, 2015; Howe-Walsh & Schyns, 2010) and the consequent return on investment that international mobility programs might produce (McNulty, De Cieri, & Hutchings, 2009). In fact, majority of studies carried out in the migration literature have focused their attention on macro-level issues such as brain gain and brain drain, as well as immigration regulations and policies, whereas prior research on international migrants has concentrated on micro-level of issues such as migration motivations, forms of human capital and international mobility (Al Ariss & Syed, 2011; Kofman, 2000). Evidently, there is a lack of meso-level research, namely by researches and studies focusing on how organizations recognize and understand individual differences among international migrants and develop HRM strategies and interventions to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills of international migrants and to enhance their strategic competitive advantage. International migrants often cope with legal barriers that might strongly limit their career choices and opportunities in the host country; they can also experience difficulties, or worse, denials of the recognition of their formal qualifications, thus limiting their international mobility in terms of their selection of migration destinations and career choices. In this vein, organizations could greatly impact on policy-making processes facilitating the identification, selection, recruitment and development of internationally-skilled migrants, and preventing migrants from

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


accepting positions that are incompatible with their qualifications or educational backgrounds, leading to underemployment (Almeida, Fernando, & Sheridan, 2012). Therefore, future research might highlight the challenges faced by migrants in the workplace and might also identify and theorize how organizations can successfully shape the career choices and outcomes of migrants. Nevertheless, international workers might represent a challenge to HRM strategies and practices because of their distinctive features as human resources: high level of career agency, individualism, proactivity and non-conformity, low level of commitment and high turnover intentions because of their readiness to move (Doherty, 2013). Given these crucial evidences, recent studies (D’Netto & Sohal, 1999; HoweWalsh & Schyns, 2010; Richardson, McBey, & McKenna, 2008) have considered the impact of these findings on HRM showing the need to focus on two distinctive HRM areas that could help organizations capitalize on the presence of international workers in terms of competitive advantage: recruitment and selection, and crosscultural adjustment. With reference to recruitment and selection, research suggests the importance of adopting differentiated HR practices in the recruitment process to better attract this group of individuals (Almeida et al., 2012). There is an evident difference between career expatriates, namely individuals who self-initiated expatriation to pursue careers in the host country, from private expatriates, that is, individuals who emigrate for private or family reasons. Prior foreign experience and cross-cultural skills are shown to be very important in selecting career expatriates, while technical skills become crucial when selecting private expatriates (Howe-Walsh & Schyns, 2010). In terms of cross-cultural adjustment, empirical research suggests that it is essential to understand what precisely engages international migrants in their work abroad. This aspect could be vital in designing appropriate HR practices and programs capable of retaining these international migrants and help them better adjust to new work arrangements and living conditions. A recent review of the literature on SIE (Doherty, 2013) contends that SIEs are motivated by different individual and social factors, different values orientations and preferences, as well as tend to develop a different kind of psychological contract. In view of this, to understand these aspects is essential for organizations to develop relevant HR programs and practices that can facilitate international migrants’ cross-cultural adjustment and retention. Accordingly, Howe-Walsh and Schyns (2010) propose different HRM practices that can facilitate SIEs’ cross-cultural adjustment. Specifically, the authors suggest that providing a clear definition of the job position may have a positive effect on SIEs’ work adjustment, while support provided by the host organization in terms of mentoring and co-working may enhance interaction adjustment. In addition, the provision of on-site intercultural training, help with legal issues and family adjustment may also have a positive effect on SIE adjustment. Several recent studies have examined the role of adjustment in the career experiences of SIEs (Peltokorpi & Jintae Froese, 2009). Cao, Hirschi, and Deller (2013) found that SIEs’ protean career attitudes lead to better cross-cultural adjustment, which, in turn, is linked with positive career outcomes such as career satisfaction, life satisfaction and intention


A. Manuti

to stay. Nolan and Morley (2014) investigated the relationship between personenvironment fit and cross-cultural adjustment among SIEs. The authors found that person–job needs–supplies fit is associated with SIEs’ interaction adjustment; person–job demands abilities influence both work and interaction adjustment; and person-organization fit influence work adjustment. However, despite the theoretical debate and the growing awareness about the value of people for organizations, the perspective adopted by many employers in the management of this specific typology of human capital is still relatively narrow. This is most evident if we look at the talent management of migrant workers, which is mainly focused on readily accessible and immediate skills, ignoring the longer-term strategic potential of the international workforce of skilled migrants, particularly for multinational enterprises and other international organizations (Crowley-Henry, O’Connor, & Al Ariss, 2016). Furthermore, this bias is more evident if we consider that most of the best practice in the field and much research has focused on employers’ use of highly skilled migrant workers, particularly ITC and health professionals (Bach, 2007; Groutsis, 2003; Larsen, Allan, Bryan, & Smith, 2005; Ryan, 2007), while the HRM implications of the use of low-skilled migrant workers remains relatively under-explored. If on the one hand, abundant research has been produced on HRM interventions used to support the integration and enhancement of skills of expatriates or international workers, though with a narrow perspective on their future potential as stressed above (Hodgetts & Luthans, 2003), few studies have focused on the challenges that low skilled migrant workers pose to organizations in terms of recruitment and selection strategies that should attract them, of career progression paths that could be available to these workers, and finally, on retention policies used to enhance their potential. Generally, the use of migrant workers in organizations is associated with a “hard” approach to HRM, that tends to assume that labour is a disposable commodity and employees are readily interchangeable, in contrast with “soft” approaches to HRM, focusing on competitive approaches that are reliant on the human resource attributes of the workforce (Guest, 1987; Walton, 1985). However, if the “hard” approach is more diffused in the management of low-skilled workers (Salt & Millar, 2006), for high-skilled workers, given the different motivations that influence workers to move and organizations to hire them, even a “soft” approach could be linked to so-called International Human Resource Management (Briscoe, Randall, & Tarique, 2011). Certainly, the outputs of “soft” and “hard” approaches in terms of migrant workers’ attitudes and behaviours toward work are completely different. On the one hand, high-skilled workers, who generally have decided on their own to move to another country because of their personal ambitions and career plans or because of their crucial skills set for specific organizational objectives, would be ushered into the new culture through a “soft” approach aimed at fostering the integration process, at strengthening their commitment and maximising their retention. On the other hand, for low-skilled workers, who are generally chosen by the organizations to create a “reserve army” of cheap labour to fill skills gaps in specific manufacturing or services contexts (Fitzgerald, 2007; Holgate, 2005), the adoption of a “hard”, “low cost” and “disposable” approach has highlighted higher levels of

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


turnover (Grimshaw, Ward, Rubery, & Beynon, 2000). Accordingly, work attitudes amongst migrants may, in many cases, reflect the fact that employment is a means to an end, for example, to save for a better future on their planned return to their country of origin. This, in turn, will shape expectations about the experience of work. Yet, these aspirations may also change over time, and the willingness of workers to accept low paid, low-status work may diminish as individuals and migrant communities become more settled in the receiving country. Therefore, given the increasing importance of employers’ use of high and low skilled migrant workers in the international labour market, the extent to which such contradictions can be an obstacle both to individuals and organizations are issues that are worth pursuing and reflection on the role played by workplace learning and knowledge transfer as a potential capital to enhance could help the discussion further.


Enhancing Migrants’ Workplace Learning as a Strategic Asset

Within the framework of a Strategic Human Resource Management, the role of workplace learning has been long debated by the scientific literature as a crucial factor for organizations (Boud & Garrick, 1999; Ellinger, 2005; Lohman, 2005; Sambrook, 2005). Yet, workplace learning represents the highly complex interaction between individual processes and organizational practices (Jacobs & Parks, 2009; Manuti, 2017; Manuti, Pastore, Scardigno, Giancaspro, & Morciano, 2015), namely between two significant human processes: working and learning (Hodkinson & Hodkinson, 2004; Sambrook, 2005). Certainly, the interrelationship between learning and working can be articulated at different levels, namely at the organizational and personal, and in different modes, formal and informal. In brief, the literature suggests that formal learning or training and informal learning are the most commonly agreed on components of workplace learning (Clarke, 2005; Colley, Hodkinson, & Malcolm, 2002). Formal training is perhaps the most tangible aspect of workplace learning for most HRM scholars and practitioners. Formal training refers to all those planned activities and programs of training and development, intended to acquire specific knowledge and skills that are institutionally endorsed by the organization. Formal training occurs in a context specifically intended for learning, which mostly suggests that learning occurs away from the actual work setting. Much attention has also been given to informal learning as a component of workplace learning (Boud & Garrick, 1999). Informal learning assumes that the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the work setting does not occur only from formally planned programs. Indeed, informal learning occurs in situations that are not usually intended for learning, most notably in the actual work setting (Beckett &


A. Manuti

Hager, 2002; Garavan, Morley, Gunnigle, & Mcguire, 2002; Lohman, 2005; Marsick & Watkins, 1997). Given all these crucial theoretical distinctions, however, it is incontrovertible that both formal and informal learning are fundamental to skill development (Billett, 2001). As stressed above, formal learning is the process that evidently links training to skill development into a defined learning context. However even informal learning—including learning from peers and colleagues, learning by trial and error, and individual reading—are important aspects of professional development (MastermanSmith & Pocock, 2008; Nordman & Hayward, 2006). This mode of learning is beneficial to both employees and employers. It gives to the employees the opportunity to learn new skills and to keep them up-to-date. At the same time, it grants to the organization a chance to manage, motivate and retain employees (Smith, Oczkowski, & Selby Smith, 2008). Thus, informal learning should be encouraged and facilitated in the workplace and team leaders and managers might play an important role in achieving this goal. This approach may be part of a socialization/ acculturation process, or a coaching or mentoring programme, and a careful analysis of the cultural and organizational context where workers are exposed to learning. As for migrant workers, research has concentrated more on the recognition of formal and informal learning (Andersson & Guo, 2009; Gibb, 2008; Guo, 2010), with formal learning specifically linked to the acknowledgment of certified learning acquired in institutional settings, and informal learning related to what migrants have experienced and practiced even for a long period of time but without having evidence for this experience. Accordingly, within the workplace, both typologies of learning could be strategic tools to support the process of cultural integration of migrants. Miralles-Lombardo, Miralles, and Golding (2008) looked specifically at the informal learning which occurs in multicultural organisations. They reveal how such experiences create informal networks and comfortable learning spaces, which help to connect migrants to the wider host community. In this vein, informal learning is an important component of cultural integration. However, there are also studies that show the darker side of formal and informal learning for migrants (Morrice, 2012), and highlight the need to consider how the social, cultural, and legal context in which migrant workers find themselves in the host country may shape the nature of the transformative learning they are called to once in the workplace (Mezirow, 1990, 2000). Inevitably, it is evident that the process of migration is also a process of identity deconstruction where migrants are called to disrupt the inherited frames of reference to learn new values and to adapt to a new social organization. Therefore, this transformative process may also have negative outcomes for individuals when confronted with the need to recognize that their previous learning counts for very little and that often they must “unlearn” and let go much of who and what they were. This could be a potential challenge for those organizations interested in enhancing migrants’ human capital. However, according to a different perspective (Williams, 2007), this specific condition of fluidity, mobility and continuous change experienced by migrant

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


workers can also have positive implications for organizations in terms of knowledge transfer as it leads migrants to develop flexibility skills with reference to the management of learning (Argote & Ingram, 2000). According to this perspective, instead of focussing on the technical skills and qualifications possessed by these workers and generally linked to their participation to formal training, attention should be drawn on the wider heritage of knowledge acquired by them in different life and professional domains through informal learning strategies. This assumption allows considering all international migrants as potential knowledge carriers or knowledgeable workers (Thompson, Warhurst, & Callaghan, 2001), even if they face very different constraints. At the same time, this change of perspective enables to overcome the fragmentation of existing research into two discrete categories: those of skilled and of unskilled workers. Therefore, migrants’ knowledge is conceptualized as “the individual capacity to draw distinctions within a collective domain of action, based on an appreciation of context or theory, or both” (Tsoukas & Vladimirou, 2001, p. 979). Given this definition and considering the continuous changes they are exposed to, according to some scholars, migrants tend to develop a specific critical reflexive ability that makes them able to draw on their previous embedded and encultured knowledge to provide a deeper understanding of the peculiarities of knowledge, which is how it becomes embedded in different locations (Williams, 2006). This evidence leads to the consideration of their potential role as boundary spanners, namely as individuals who can work across such boundaries and leverage external knowledge into organizations (Tushman & Scanlan, 1981). Boundaries are “areas of unusual learning, places where perspectives meet, and new possibilities arise (. . .) radically new insights often arise at the boundaries” (Wenger, 2000: p. 223). The implications of such awareness further support the precious role that these resources might have within organizations, especially in times of turbulent change. Certainly, there are several obstacles to migrants acquiring the legitimacy to be listened to and the sufficient ability to reckon and transfer their knowledge bringing something new to an organization (Wenger, 2000). Only these conditions would allow them to become effective negotiators in knowledge transfer. Moreover, not all migrants have sufficient reflexive capacity to be able to act as brokers and many jobs are designed around routine skills and therefore discourage knowledge transfer from outside the organization. Accordingly, even where migrants have the capacity to be brokers, and organizations actively seek to enhance knowledge leverage, migrants may still face formidable obstacles (e.g. difficulty in the language, peripheral positions within the team, stereotypes, etc.) to fulfilling their potential as knowledgeable workers. Thus, in line with the people-based approach to HRM, practices, and interventions aimed at supporting the cultural integration of migrants and the enhancement of their potential of knowledge through formal and informal learning need to carefully consider the individual, cultural and social complexity implied in this kind of processes. Moving from the empirical evidence on the beneficial nature of workplace learning for migrants, organizations might activate coaching and mentoring


A. Manuti

programmes aimed at fostering the sense-making process underlying migrants’ effort toward cultural integration showing them how to capitalize and align the skills and knowledge acquired in their previous experience into current organizational projects. Accordingly, a positive culture, open to learning and to change is surely a key element to encourage migrants to “learn from their experience, to influence the learning of others, and to create an environment of expectations that shapes and supports desired results that in turn get measured and rewarded” (Marsick & Watkins, 2003, p. 134). Therefore, if it is true, according to the people-based approach, that motivated and engaged workers tend to work more and better if they feel that the work environment supports their plans and value their contribution, organizations could take advantage of this evidence by creating conditions that could foster this positive cycle. This conclusion could be further challenged if we consider the implications in terms of the HRM of both a high-skilled and a low-skilled migrant workforce, a corporate or self-initiated expatriate and a migrant.



The main aim of the chapter was to try to argue for the need to adopt the lens of a strategic and people-based approach to HRM to consider the huge changes that occurred to the workforce over the past decades. More specifically, the focus has been addressed to the challenges posed by the increasing presence of migrant workers within most organizational settings and by the need to plan and to carry out HR interventions aimed at enhancing their precious human capital. The aim of the discussion has been twofold: on the one hand, that of contrasting a dominant bias underlying HRM of migrant workers, especially when addressed to the low-skilled ones, on the other hand, that of carefully considering the complexity of the process of cultural integration and of transformation that they have to undergone to fit into the host organizational culture while planning diversity management interventions (MacKenzie & Forde, 2009). In this vein, given the wider theoretical framework sketched above that underlines the centrality of the human resources in and for organizations, the chapter has tried to highlight the crucial role played by workplace learning as a “natural aspect of everyday work” (Collin, 2002, p. 103), that can concretely show the implicit interdependence between the organization and its employees. Yet, if on the one hand, workplace learning could be a tool for organizational development that can contribute to production, effectiveness, and innovation, on the other hand, it is also a means for individual development that can contribute to enriching one’s own knowledge and skills fostering individual growth (Billett, 2001; Boud & Garrick, 1999; Garavan et al., 2002; Jacobs & Parks, 2009). Therefore, this challenging aspect of organizational life has been considered as a potential pivot around which organizations might develop their strategy for developing a competitive advantage (Noe et al., 2006).

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


In view of the focus of the chapter, this evidence has been further explored with reference to migrant workers. Undoubtedly, this category of workers can be an opportunity for organizations in terms of qualifications, knowledge, and skills as well as in terms of motivation and engagement (Forde & MacKenzie, 2009). However, this form of human capital needs to be carefully managed through dedicated Human Resource Development interventions that would consider the specific features of the organizational context as well as of the employees involved. This option would support learning both in its formal and informal dimensions and would also foster skill transfer processes and, through the latter, enhance organizational performance.

References Al Ariss, A. (2010). Modes of engagement: Migration, self-initiated expatriation, and career development. Career Development International, 15, 338–358. Al Ariss, A., & Crowley-Henry, M. (2013). Self-initiated expatriation and migration in the management literature: Present theorizations and future research directions. Career Development International, 18, 78–96. Al Ariss, A., & Syed, J. (2011). Capital mobilization of skilled migrants: A relational perspective. British Journal of Management, 22, 286–304. Almeida, S., Fernando, M., & Sheridan, A. (2012). Revealing the screening: Organisational factors influencing the recruitment of immigrant professionals. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23, 1950–1965. Andersson, A., & Guo, S. (2009). Governing through non/recognition: The missing “R” in the PLAR for immigrant professionals in Canada and Sweden. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 28, 423–437. Andresen, M., Al Ariss, A., Walther, M., & Wolff, K. (2012). Self-initiated expatriation: Mastering the dynamics. New York: Routledge. Andresen, M., Bergdolt, F., Margenfeld, J., & Dickmann, M. (2014). Addressing international mobility confusion – Developing definitions and differentiations for self-initiated and assigned expatriates as well as migrants. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25, 2295–2318. Argote, L., & Ingram, P. (2000). Knowledge transfer: A basis for competitive advantage in firms. Organizational Behaviour Human Decision Processes, 82, 150–169. Bach, S. (2007). Going global? The regulation of nurse migration in the UK. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 45(2), 383–403. Beckett, D., & Hager, P. (2002). Life, work and learning: Practice in post-modernity. London: Routledge. Bell, M. P., Kwesiga, E. N., & Berry, D. P. (2010). Immigrants: The new ‘invisible men and women’ in diversity research. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(2), 177–188. Berry, D. P., & Bell, M. P. (2012). ‘Expatriates’: Gender, race and class distinctions in international management. Gender, Work and Organization, 19, 10–28. Billett, S. (2001). Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(5), 209–214. Boud, D., & Garrick, J. (1999). Understandings of workplace learning. In D. Boudand & J. Garrick (Eds.), Understanding learning at work. London: Routledge. Boxall, P. (1999). The strategic HRM debate and the resource-based view of the firm. In R. S. Schuler & S. E. Jackson (Eds.), Strategic human resource management (pp. 73–89). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Business.


A. Manuti

Brewster, C., & Scullion, H. (2007). A review and agenda for expatriate HRM. Human Resource Management Journal, 7(3), 32–41. Briscoe, D., Randall, S., & Tarique, I. (2011). International human resource management: Policies and practices for multinational enterprises. London: Routledge. Burgess, J., & Connell, J. (2006). Temporary work and human resource management: Issue, challenges, responses. Personnel Review, 35(2), 129–140. Cao, L., Hirschi, A., & Deller, J. (2013). The positive effects of a protean career attitude for selfinitiated expatriates. Career Development International, 18, 56–77. Carr, S. (2010). Global mobility and local economy: It’s work psychology, stupid! In S. Carr (Ed.), The psychology of global mobility (125–50). New York: Springer. Carr, S. C., Inkson, K., & Thorn, K. (2005). From global careers to talent flow: Reinterpreting ‘brain drain’. Journal of World Business, 40, 386–398. Cerdin, J.-L., Diné, M. A., & Brewster, C. (2014). Qualified immigrants’ success: Exploring the motivation to migrate and to integrate. Journal of International Business Studies, 45, 151–168. Cerdin, J. L., & Pargneux, M. L. (2010). Career anchors: A comparison between organization assigned and self-initiated expatriates. Thunderbird International Business Review, 52(4), 287–299. Cerdin, J.-L., & Selmer, J. (2014). Who is a self-initiated expatriate? Towards conceptual clarity of a common notion. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25, 1281–1301. Chudzikowski, K., & Mayrhofer, W. (2011). In search of the blue flower? Grand social theories and career research – The case of Bourdieu’s theory of practice. Human Relations, 64(1), 19–36. Clarke, N. (2005). Workplace learning environment and its relationship with learning outcomes in healthcare. Human Resource Development International, 8(2), 185–205. Colley, H., Hodkinson, P., & Malcolm, J. (2002) Non-formal learning: Mapping the conceptual terrain. A consultation report. University of Leeds Lifelong Learning Institute. Collin, K. (2002). Development engineers’ conceptions of learning at work. Studies in Continuing Education, 24(2), 133–152. Crowley-Henry, M., O’Connor, E., & Al Ariss, A. (2016). Portrayal of skilled migrants’ careers in business and management studies: A review of the literature and future research agenda. European Management Review, 15(3), 375–394. D’Netto, B., & Sohal, A. (1999). Human resource practices and workforce diversity: An empirical assessment. International Journal of Manpower, 20, 530–547. Delery, J. E., & Shaw, J. D. (2001). The strategic management of people in work organizations: Review, synthesis, and extension. In Research in personnel and human resources management (Vol. 20, pp. 165–197). London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Dickmann, M., & Baruch, Y. (2011). Global careers. New York: Routledge. Dietz, J. (2010). Introduction to the special issue on employment discrimination against immigrants. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 104–112. Doherty, N. (2013). Understanding the self-initiated expatriate: A review and direction for future research. International Journal of Management Review, 15, 447–469. Ellinger, A. (2005). Contextual factors influencing informal learning in a workplace setting: The case of “reinventing itself company”. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 16(3), 389–415. Essers, C., Benschop, Y., & Doorewaard, H. (2010). Female ethnicity: Understanding Muslim immigrant businesswomen in the Netherlands. Gender, Work and Organization, 17(3), 320–339. Fernandez, E., Montes, J., & Vasquez, C. (2000). Typology and strategic analysis of intangible resources. A resource-based approach. Technovation, 20, 81–92. Findler, L., Wind, L. H., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2007). The challenge of workforce management in a global society. Administration in Social Work, 31(3), 63–94. Fitzgerald, I. (2007). Working in the UK: Polish migrant worker routes into employment in the North-East and North-West construction and food processing sectors. Report for the Trades Union Congress, TUC, London.

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


Forde, C., & MacKenzie, R. (2009). Employers’ use of low-skilled migrant workers: Assessing the implications for human resource management. International Journal of Manpower, 30(5), 437–452. Garavan, T. N., Morley, M., Gunnigle, P., & McGuire, D. (2002). Human resource development and workplace learning: Emerging theoretical perspectives and organizational practices. Journal of European Industrial Training, 26, 2/3/4, 60–71. Gibb, T. L. (2008). Bridging Canadian adult second language education and essential skills policies. Approach with caution. Adult Education Quarterly, 58, 318–334. Grimshaw, D., Ward, K., Rubery, J., & Beynon, H. (2000). Organisations and the transformation of the internal labour market. Work, Employment and Society, 15(1), 25–54. Groutsis, D. (2003). The state, immigration policy and labour market practices: The case of overseas-trained doctors. Journal of Industrial Relationships, 45(1), 67–86. Guest, D. (1987). Human resource management and industrial relations. Journal of Management Studies, 24(5), 503–521. Guo, S. (2010). Towards recognitive justice: Emerging trends and challenges in transnational migration and lifelong learning. International Journal of Lifelong Learning, 29, 149–167. Guo, C., & Al Ariss, A. (2015). Human resource management of international migrants: Current theories and future research. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26 (10), 1287–1297. Hodgetts, R., & Luthans, F. (2003). International management: Culture, strategy, and behaviour. New York: McGraw-Hill. Hodkinson, P., & Hodkinson, H. (2004). The complexities of workplace learning: Problems and dangers in trying to measure attainment. In H. Rainbird, A. Fuller, & A. Munro (Eds.), Workplace learning in context (pp. 259–275). London: Routledge. Holgate, J. (2005). Organizing migrant workers: A case study of working conditions and unionization in a London sandwich factory. Work, Employment and Society, 19(1), 463–480. Howe-Walsh, L., & Schyns, B. (2010). Self-initiated expatriation: Implications for HRM. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21, 260–273. Jacobs, R., & Parks, Y. (2009). A proposed conceptual framework of workplace learning: Implications for theory development and research in human resource development. Human Resource Development Review, 8(2), 133–150. Jokinen, T., Brewster, C., & Suutari, V. (2008). Career capital during international work experiences: Contrasting self-initiated expatriate experiences and assigned expatriation. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(6), 979–998. Kofman, E. (2000). The invisibility of skilled female migrants and gender relations in studies of skilled migration in Europe. International Journal of Population Geography, 6, 45–59. Larsen, J. A., Allan, H. T., Bryan, K., & Smith, P. (2005). Overseas nurses’ motivations for working in the UK: Globalization and life politics. Work, Employment and Society, 19(2), 349–368. Lepak, D., & Snell, S. (2002). Examining the human resource architecture: The relationships among human capital, employment, and human resource configurations. Journal of Management, 28 (4), 517–543. Lepak, D., Takeuchi, S., & Snell, S. (2003). Employment flexibility and firm performance: Examining the interaction effects of employment mode, environmental dynamism, and technological intensity. Journal of Management, 29(5), 681–703. Lohman, M. C. (2005). A survey of factors influencing the engagement of two professional groups in informal workplace learning activities. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 16(4), 501–527. Luthans, F. (2002). The need for and meaning of positive organizational behaviour. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 695–706. Luthans, F., & Youssef, C. (2007). Emerging positive organizational behavior. Journal of Management, 33(3), 321–349. MacKenzie, R., & Forde, C. (2009). The rhetoric of the ‘good worker’ versus the realities of employers’ use and the experiences of migrant workers. Work, Employment and Society, 23(1), 142–159.


A. Manuti

Manuti, A. (2017). Workplace learning as a competitive intangible asset of the organization. Enhancing informal learning from a strategic human resource management. In S. Rutherford (Ed.), Informal learning: Perspectives, challenges and opportunities (pp. 275–290). New York: Nova Publishing. Manuti, A., Pastore, S., Scardigno, A. F., Giancaspro, M. L., & Morciano, D. (2015). Formal and informal learning in the workplace: A research review. International Journal of Training and Development, 19(1), 1–17. Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (1997). Lessons from informal and incidental learning. In J. Burgoyne & M. Reynolds (Eds.), Management learning: Integrating perspectives in theory and practice (pp. 295–311). London: Sage. Marsick, V., & Watkins, K. (2003). Demonstrating the value of an organization’s learning culture: The dimensions of the learning organization questionnaire. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 5(2), 132–151. Masterman-Smith, H., & Pocock, B. (2008). Living low paid: The dark side of prosperous Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. McNulty, Y., De Cieri, H., & Hutchings, K. (2009). Do global firms measure expatriate return on investment? An empirical examination of measures, barriers and variables influencing global staffing practices. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20, 1309–1326. Mezirow, J. (1990). Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: A guide to transformative and Emancipator learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Miralles-Lombardo, B., Miralles, J., & Golding, B. (2008). Creating learning spaces for refugees: The role of multicultural organisations in Australia. Adelaide: NCVER. Morrice, L. (2012). Learning and refugees: Recognizing the darker side of transformative learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 63(3), 251–271. Nishii, L. H., & Özbilgin, M. F. (2007). Global diversity management: Towards a conceptual framework. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(11), 1883–1894. Noe, R., Hollenbeck, B., Gerhart, & Wright, P. (2006). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage. Burr Ridge, IL: Richard D. Irwin. Nolan, E. M., & Morley, M. J. (2014). A test of the relationship between person-environment fit and cross-cultural adjustment among self-initiated expatriates. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25, 1631–1649. Nordman, C., & Hayward, G. (2006). Returns to on-the-job training: Do skill usage, tasks and workstation matter? Evidence from British Workers. SKOPE research paper 63, ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE). Oxford: Warwick Universities. Özbilgin, M. F., Beauregard, A., Tatli, A., & Bell, M. P. (2011). Work-life, diversity and intersectionality: A critical review and research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13, 177–198. Peltokorpi, V., & Jintae Froese, F. (2009). Organizational expatriates and self-initiated expatriates: Who adjusts better to work and life in Japan? International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20, 1096–1112. Ray, G., Barney, J., & Muhanna, W. (2004). Capabilities, business processes and competitive adavantage: Choosing the dependent variable in empirical tests of the resource-based view. Strategic Management Journal, 25, 23–37. Reitz, J. (2001). Immigrant skill utilization in the Canadian labour market: Implications of human capital research. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2(3), 347–378. Richardson, J., McBey, K., & McKenna, S. (2008). Integrating realistic job previews and realistic living conditions previews. Personnel Review, 37, 490–508. Ryan, L. (2007). Migrant women, social networks and motherhood: The experience of Irish nurses in Britain. Sociology, 41(2), 295–312. Salt, J., & Millar, J. (2006). Foreign labour in the United Kingdom: Current patterns and trends. Labour Market Trends, 114(10), 335–353.

4 Migrants’ Human Capital in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities for a. . .


Sambrook, S. (2005). Factors influencing the context and process of work-related learning: Synthesizing findings from two research projects. Human Resource Development International, 8, 101–119. Shen, J., Chanda, A., D’Netto, B., & Monga, M. (2009). Managing diversity through human resource management: An international perspective and conceptual framework. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(2), 235–251. Smith, A., Oczkowski, E., & Selby Smith, C. (2008). To have and to hold: Retaining and utilising skilled people. Adelaide: NCVER. Spreitzer, G., & Porath, C. (2012). Creating sustainable performance. Harvard Business Review, 90, 92–99. Suutari, V., & Brewster, C. (2000). Making their own way: International experience through selfinitiated foreign assignments. Journal of World Business, 35, 417–436. Syed, J. (2008). Employment prospects for skilled migrants: A relational perspective. Human Resource Management Review, 18, 28–45. Syed, J., & Özbilgin, M. (2009). A relational framework for international transfer of diversity management practices. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(12), 2435–2453. Thompson, P., Warhurst, C., & Callaghan, G. (2001). Ignorant theory and knowledgeable workers: Interrogating the connections between knowledge, skills and service. Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), 923–942. Tsoukas, H., & Vladimirou, E. (2001). What is organizational knowledge. Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), 973–993. Turchick-Hakak, L., & Al Ariss, A. (2013). Vulnerable work and international migrants: A relational human resource management perspective. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(22), 4116–4131. Tushman, M., & Scanlan, T. (1981). Boundary spanning individuals: Their role in information transfer and their antecedents. Academy of Management Journal, 24(2), 289–305. Walton, R. E. (1985). From control to commitment in the workplace. Harvard Business Review, 63 (2), 76–84. Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organizations, 7(2), 225–246. Williams, A. M. (2006). Lost in translation: International migration, learning and knowledge. Progress in Human Geography, 30(5), 588–607. Williams, A. M. (2007). Listen to me, learn with me: International migration and knowledge transfer. International Journal of Employment Relationships, 45(2), 361–382. Wright, P., Gardner, T., & Moynihan, L. (2003). The impact of HR practices on the performance of business units. Human Resource Management Journal, 13(3), 21–36. Wright, P. M., McMahan, G. C., & McWilliams, A. (1994). Human resources and sustained competitive advantage: A resource-based perspective. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 5, 301–326. Zikic, J., Bonache, J., & Cerdin, J. (2010). Crossing national boundaries: A typology of qualified immigrants’ career orientations. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 31(5), 667–686.

Amelia Manuti is Associate Professor in Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Bari. She is teacher in Training and Organizational Development and Organizational Psychology. Her main research interests refer to career management, soft skills development, formal and informal learning. She has taken part to many national and international research projects in the field of work and organizational psychology and published several research articles on different topics in the field. One of her most recent works are the volumes Why human capital is important for organizations, The Social Organization and Digital HR co-edited with Davide de Palma (2014, 2016; 2017 Palgrave Mac Millan).

Chapter 5

Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants Francisco Díaz Bretones



Psychosocial risks at work are one of the great challenges we must face in modern societies. They are defined as those that occur from the interaction of the worker with the content of the job itself and other environmental variables and could potentially cause physical and/or psychological harm to workers (Leka & Jain, 2010). Their impact on the health and well-being of workers has been addressed by various research studies and by numerous international organisations (ILO, 1986; WHO, 2010), which suggest that the major risks related to job content and control, organisational culture, interpersonal relationships and contractual security, among others (Cox & Griffiths, 1996; Leka & Cox, 2008). Nevertheless, the dynamics of social, technological, demographic and cultural changes affecting the construction, deconstruction and organisation of new job designs and their potential demands, lead to the appearance of new risks at work. It will, therefore, be necessary to consider new emerging psychosocial risk factors that manifest themselves in the different sectors of work activity and in various sectors of the active population (Alvarado & Bretones, 2018). There is a clear lack of more up-to-date integrative models of psychosocial risks for migrant workers. Although there is a relative breadth of studies on working conditions among such workers, we lack a general unifying framework to bring together the main psychosocial risks to which these workers are exposed. The objective of this chapter will, therefore, be to attempt to bring together and present the main psychosocial risks of migrant workers found in the current literature through the use of an integrated framework. F. D. Bretones (*) School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



F. D. Bretones

We organise the review by first detailing the potential contextual variables generating psychosocial risks with a focus on basic needs, and conclude with the consequences that these risks pose to the health, and well-being of migrant workers. However, we will dispense with the description of psychosocial risks for which updated bibliographical references already exist (see, for example, Carayon, Haims, & Yang, 2001; Leka, Jain, & Lerouge, 2017; Milczarek et al., 2012 or OECD, 2012, among others). Consequently, we will focus on the analysis of the risks specifically present in the migrant worker population.


Contextual Variables in Migrant Workers

One of the recurring contextual variables in the study of working conditions and the psychosocial risks associated with them in migrant populations is usually job insecurity and, more specifically, the designation of precariat, coined by the antiglobalisation movement and later assumed by Standing (2011). The term, arising from the amalgamation of the terms precarious and proletariat, defines a certain modern historical moment characterised by the globalisation and deregulation of labour relations which came about following World War II, together with the emergence of new social risks and the fragmentation of labour markets resulting insecurity, vulnerability and unpredictability. Thus, the interrelated terms “precariat”, “precarity” and “precarisation” might be aligned with different conceptualisations (Jørgensen, 2016), so far as precarity might designate certain working conditions, while precariat might refer to the formation of a certain identity, and precarization might constitute an associated formal process. In this dispossession of labour, civil and social rights, many social groups have suffered from processes of the precariat. However, one of the most affected groups to be consistently associated with the precariat, has undoubtedly been migrant workers (Schierup, Munck, Likic-Brboric, & Neergaard, 2015). Migrants tend to take on tougher, higher-risk jobs which are undesired by native workers (Eurofound, 2010; Occhiuto, 2017). In this regard, for example, Tataryn and Tataryn (2017) were able to determine greater occupational and wage precarity in the case of migrants in the United Kingdom than native workers. Migrant workers will often take jobs in smaller companies, in the services, construction or agricultural sectors which often require fewer qualifications (Aldaz-Odriozola & Eguía-Peña, 2015; Cueto & Rodríguez Álvarez, 2015; Kalleberg, 2012), but also in more gruelling and dangerous occupations than native workers. This distinction is not only verified in the occupations and tasks that they perform, but also in the lower compensation they receive in comparison with their native counterparts (Caparrós, 2014; Leão, Muraro, Palos, Martins, & Borges, 2017; Lee & Kofman, 2012). This creates situations of real wage inequality, both in the payment of salaries and in the calculation and payment of overtime compared to native workers (Mehra & Singh, 2014). This inequality can also lead a twofold form of discrimination: on the one hand, by the company itself which pays them less than

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


native workers and, on the other, from other workers or the society as a whole which accuse them of distorting the labour market by reducing salaries and limiting job opportunities for native workers. The latter focuses the problems on these workers and not on the employers who provide such conditions. Another defining characteristic of occupational precarity endured by migrant workers in comparison with their native colleagues is that of job insecurity (European Working Conditions Observatory, 2007). This insecurity does not only pertain to the duration of the contractual relationship maintained with the employer (Diaz-Serrano, 2013), but the organisation of the workday itself, where migrant workers are engaged in higher frequency of temporary or part-time work than native workers (Bretones, Jain, Leka, & García, 2020; Solé, Diaz-Serrano, & Rodríguez, 2013). Thus, Teoh and Hassard (2016) indicated that in the area of the 28 countries of the European Union, migrants had a higher rate of temporary employment than native workers (12.4%), which could lead to a higher probability of vulnerability to exploitation and low levels of employment protection. The problem is even more significant in countries which have had a significant increase in the number of migrant workers followed by a severe economic crisis. There are studies that indicate the negative impact of economic crises on the health (especially mental) of workers (Houdmont, Kerr, & Addley, 2012; WHO, 2011). Furthermore, the effects of the economic crisis on workers are even greater in the case of migrant workers due to the deterioration of employment and working conditions (Ahonen et al., 2009; Ronda-Pérez et al., 2012). Thus, when comparing the case of migrant workers in Spain during the 2007–2011 economic crisis, Torá, Martínez, Benavides, Leveque, and Ronda-Pérez (2015) found a significant increase in their job insecurity in comparison with native workers from the same period. These contextual situations in the labour market, in the form of the precarisation of job offers and employment discrimination, gives rise to a new precariat identity in migrant workers which not only leads to a devaluation of the employment expectations at the beginning of the migratory process but also affects their own personal and professional identity, and basic psychological needs. These social and economic conditions can also lead to feelings of comfort or discomfort depending on whether they feel their basic psychological needs have been met or not.


Migration and Frustration of Basic Psychological Needs

Self-Determination Theory (SDT), promoted by Deci and Ryan in 1985, indicates that our behaviour inevitably seeks to satisfy several basic psychological needs and that their achievement would lead to well-being and satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 2000). According to the theory, there are three basic needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness. The need for competence is related to the desire to achieve certain goals related to the skills the person has. By contrast, the need for autonomy is linked to the desire to have control over actions, feeling responsible for one’s behaviour.


F. D. Bretones

Finally, the need for relatedness refers to the degree to which the person feels connected and accepted. The SDT has been studied and applied in different environments, including organisations (Deci, Olafsen, & Ryan, 2017; Gagné, 2014) and more specifically, to the study of certain psychosocial risks (Trépanier, Fernet, & Austin, 2015; Van den Broeck, Vansteenkiste, De Witte, & Lens, 2008). Thus, following the SDT, if the work environment does not allow, hinders or prevents the worker from being able to meet these needs, this will generate frustration or discomfort. The objective should, therefore, be to create work environments with the ultimate goal of promoting healthy organisations and people (Bretones & Jáimez, 2011) and helping workers in the processes of coping with potential organisational psychosocial risks. Conversely, for example, if working conditions impede or hinder the worker’s assumption of responsibilities commensurate with their skills, or their skills are not recognised, their competence needs will be affected. Similarly, if they lack a voice in decision-making, this will have adverse consequences on their need for autonomy. Alternatively, if the work environment hinders the ability to interact or fosters social ostracism, the worker’s relatedness needs will be adversely affected. All of these examples will undercut these psychological needs, thus affecting the well-being of the worker. A longitudinal study by Olafsen, Niemiec, Halvari, Deci, and Williams (2017) showed that workers basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and relatedness) are frustrated, suffered higher levels of work-related stress, emotional exhaustion and other physical symptoms. Consequently, considering these three basic psychological needs, we believe that the psychosocial risks faced by migrants at work which are more likely to be frustrated are: • their competence and career development, • decision-making and autonomy, • their social relationships in the company.


Frustration with Competence and Career Development

Along with the precariousness of the jobs that they perform, other psychosocial risks for migrant workers involve difficulties in their professional and career development as they are more likely to engage in jobs with fewer opportunities for development and responsibility (Font, Moncada, Llorens, & Benavides, 2012). We cannot disregard the fact that, unlike migration in other eras, many of the migratory movements of today are not only motivated by escape from adverse employment, economic or political conditions. Often, migrants are motivated by the desire to develop the career started in the country of origin or to improve their learning or mastery of new skills (professional or linguistic) in the host country, even if only for a short, temporary stay in the new host country (Engbersen & Snel, 2013).

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


It is also true that many migrants quickly reduce these initial employment expectations upon settling in the destination countries and experiencing the first difficulties in integrating into the local workforce (Galarneau & Morissette, 2009; Hakak, Holzinger, & Zikic, 2010). One of the problems concerning the difficulty in developing a career is related to the lack of recognition of their prior education and/or work experience in their country of origin, as well as distrust in the qualifications obtained from foreign educational institutions or the accredited experience (Townsend, Pascal, & Delves, 2014). All of this leads to a mismatch between the educational background or job skills that the migrant brings from their country and those required for the job offered in the destination country. This mismatch is described as the skill paradox (Dietz, Joshi, Esses, Hamilton, & Gabarrot, 2015) because migrant workers are more likely to suffer from employment discrimination the more qualifications they bring from their countries. The paradox, therefore, lies in the fact that although education is a good indicator of the person’s degree of employability and occupation in local labour markets (the better the education and qualifications, the better the job), in the case of migrant workers, not only is this not taken into account but can serve an obstacle to their professional development in the destination country, with implications on initial employment expectations upon arrival and their self-esteem. There are several causes leading to this mismatch. On the one hand, there is the lack of recognition or validation of the degree of origin or the need to go through long accreditation and standardisation processes in the host country which are unknown to the migrant upon arrival or perceived to be of such complexity that they are discouraged at the start of this process. In addition, migrants lack or have a poor network of local references (Rajendran, Farquharson, & Hewege, 2017). This leads employers to distrust their skills and impedes their access to jobs more in line with previously acquired skills. All the above mentioned scenarios lead to a certain resistance by local employers to recognise the prior skills of the migrant worker. They also limit their employment opportunities to a few, select trades and hinders the possibilities of finding a job commensurate with their skills and knowledge or advancing in a suitable career. Laboratory experiments (Dietz et al., 2015) have also shown that local recruiters prefer local workers over migrants when selecting qualified workers. Other factors affecting the career development of migrant workers are related to the linguistic competences they possess in the language of the destination country as an insufficient knowledge of the new language, generally speaking, also hinders their professional advancement (Hopkins & Dawson, 2016). For example, Hakak et al. (2010) found in a study conducted in Canada, that not speaking fluent English was a restriction for non-native workers. By contrast, having a high proficiency in the local language positively contributed to getting better jobs or higher incomes (Green, Kler, & Leeves, 2007). However, in many cases, such discrimination was not limited to the knowledge of a language but also to simply having an accent different from that of the destination population, thus being a subtler form of discrimination. The Buttner and Lowe (2017) study, for example,


F. D. Bretones

showed differences in access to skilled jobs among Irish migrants in Australia, attributing such discrimination to the effect of the accent. However, linguistic knowledge not only increases the chance of successfully getting a more suitable job, commensurate with the skills of the migrant worker, it also affects their self-confidence and sense of assurance in their chances of finding a particular job. Thus, in many situations, cases of undervaluation do not come from recruiters but from the migrants themselves who give up seeking more suitable jobs because of the expectation that they do not have the necessary language skills. In short, this set of circumstances leads to migrant workers to experience greater problems of undervaluation, often forcing them to take on more dangerous and precarious jobs for the qualifications and skills they possess. According Eurofound (2010), within the 27 countries of the European Union, 34% of migrant workers aged 25–54 were overqualified for the job they were engaged in, compared with 19% of native workers. Studies in other national contexts have also shown a higher prevalence of undervaluation processes among workers born abroad (Aleksynska & Tritah, 2013; Dahlstedt, 2011). In short, it can be said that difficulties in accessing more qualified positions makes the migrant population focus more on occupations that do not correspond to their education level, accessing less suitable jobs with poorer working conditions and lower salaries. This generates uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and powerlessness as a consequence of the devaluation of their skills. In some cases, could lead to the manifestation of health problems (Chen, Smith, & Mustard, 2010; Dean & Wilson, 2009) or an increased risk of sustaining some kind of work injury (Premji & Smith, 2013). Given this situation, there are several strategies that migrant workers usually adopt. One such strategy is entering new jobs below their qualifications (Crowley-Henry & Al Ariss, 2018), forgetting their previous background to begin new careers in the destination country. In such cases, the migrant worker finalises the educational and professional progression that they started in their country of origin to begin a new process of re-education that allows them to acquire new skills necessary for the jobs available to them in the host country. They thus embark on a process of occupational mobility toward a new professional career (Rooth & Ekberg, 2006). On the other hand, they may understand these first jobs as temporary and perceive them as a springboard or transition stage (Paul, 2011) to other new opportunities. These jobs would be considered by the migrant worker as an initial transition phase in their careers that they must traverse within their migratory plans. Thus, they develop a weak attachment and commitment to these first experiences. This stage is like a mandatory initiation period they must go through so that, after acquiring new occupational, linguistic and cultural skills, they are then able to access other positions that more in line with their skills (Landolt & Thieme, 2018) or move toward other markets or countries to continue their migratory or professional process (Pearson, Hammond, Heffernan, & Turner, 2012). These cognitions and perceptions can also be used as a coping mechanism to alleviate negative feelings they might experience with the future possibility of

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


finding a more suitable job, thus relieving the pressure from the mismatch and discrimination to which they might have been subjected. Because the professional career is important to the migrant worker, a mismatch can be considered a key indicator in the process of integration and well-being of the migrant worker (Garcy, 2015; Labrianidis & Vogiatzis, 2013; Yap, Holmes, Hannan, & Cukier, 2014). Highly skilled migrant workers are a special case when it comes to the matter of professional careers. There is no consensus on the concept of a skilled migrant, and differences in the conception of the definition of “skilled”, in legal terms, between countries. Nevertheless, following the definition of other studies on the subject (Boucher, 2019), we will conceptualise highly skilled migrants as those who possess a university degree in their respective countries of origin that qualifies and enables them to engage in a certain profession. While it is true that the emigration rates of more highly educated individuals are always greater than those of their less educated compatriots, this type of migration has increased in recent years, representing a significant part of the workforce in some European countries. Similarly, it has grown by 120% in OECD countries, rising from 12 million people in 1990 to 27 million in 2010 (Kerr, Kerr, Özden, & Parsons, 2017). There may be several reasons behind this trend. On the one hand, highly skilled migrants tend to have better linguistic and cultural knowledge, thus facilitating their integration into host societies. At the same time, they possess better social and economic resources, generating more self-confidence to undertake the migratory process. In addition, their academic qualifications in the countries of origin allow them, in some cases, to obtain job offers before emigrating, facilitating migratory control. Even so, it is also true that, despite this increased trend, the skilled jobs where migrants usually find work are often reduced to three large labour niches that resort to skilled foreign workers in order to compensate for the shortage of local labour. These include occupations and sectors related to information technology, healthcare and science/education. While we might think that these highly skilled migrant workers are spared from the problems of migration, as well as from suffering from some of the risks at work noted above, they often encounter barriers and difficulties unique to their status as migrants. For example, in a review of the working conditions of foreign nursing staff, various studies (An, Cha, Moon, Ruggiero, & Jang, 2016; Schilgen, Nienhaus, Handtke, Schulz, & Moesko, 2017) showed that they too are exposed to employment discrimination, albeit in a much more subtle way than reported for lower-skilled migrants. In a study with doctors in Finland (Aalto et al., 2014), the results showed that migrant doctors occupied fewer leadership positions than Finnish natives. The latter suggests the existence of “glass ceilings” in their professional development which impedes their progression, albeit subtle, on an equal footing with native workers (Remennick, 2013).



F. D. Bretones

Frustration with Decision-Making and Autonomy

In addition to the precariousness of the jobs and organisations where they usually work, migrant workers perform more demanding and monotonous tasks than natives and with little freedom of choice (Ahonen & Benavides, 2017; Porru, Elmetti, & Arici, 2014), though there will be exceptions. For example, the Fifth European Working Conditions Survey (Eurofound, 2010) found that a higher proportion of migrant workers experience worse conditions than native workers as a result of performing more repetitive tasks, at a pace that is dependent on the machinery/equipment, and having less decision-making power and autonomy. Ronda-Pérez et al. (2012) also found that migrant workers in Spain were more exposed to worse psychosocial conditions than non-migrants. These included working at a faster pace, longer workdays, worse shifts (holidays, varying schedules) and less freedom of choice in terms of the workday (time availability, difficulty deciding days off and holidays), all of this hindering the processes of balancing work and family life (Ho & Cheung, 2016). Similar results were found in studies conducted in other countries (de Beijl, 2000; Smith & Mustard, 2010).


Frustration with Social Relationships at Work

A third group of specific psychosocial risks in migrant workers is associated with social relationships at work, either with co-workers or supervisors. It is clear that support in the workplace is a fundamental element for the integration and well-being of workers. In the case of migrant workers, the support of co-workers and supervisors is known to increase the sense of belonging and makes them feel more accepted, included, valued and recognised. Bergbom and Kinnunen (2014), for example, showed the importance that migrant workers give to social support, relationships with native co-workers being more valued and rewarding than those with other non-native co-workers. In her study with migrant workers in Germany, Hoppe (2011) found the importance that they assigned to the support of supervisors and co-workers. Conversely, migrant workers often experience stressors such as social isolation at work which contribute to suffering from higher levels of depression. This lack of social support becomes one of the main psychosocial risks in migrant workers (Ronda-Perez et al., 2015). There are studies which have indicated that one of the main negative experiences reported by migrant workers was that of social exclusion or situations wherein their relationships with other co-workers were poor. In short, when workers received little social support and/or were victims of social discrimination. They also reported significantly higher levels of psychological distress and dissatisfaction (Bergbom, Vartia-Vaananen, & Kinnunen, 2015). In many cases, this lack of support from co-workers and supervisors is due to cultural and linguistic barriers that impede or hinder their ability to access relevant

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


information, but also to express themselves in both work and private environments (Porru et al., 2014). All of these data indicate the need to pay greater attention to promoting the development of positive intercultural relationships among co-workers as a source of emotional and cultural support in the adaptation process (Hopkins, 2017; Ryan, Sales, Tikki, & Siara, 2008), with positive impact, on their well-being. However, perhaps the most widely studied social risk in migrants has been that of situations of harassment, racism and discrimination in the workplace based on their origin or ethnicity. In a review study of 82 scientific papers, Sterud et al. (2018) found a higher prevalence of discrimination and harassment in migrant workers than native workers. The European Working Conditions Survey EWCS (Eurofound, 2010) also indicated that a higher proportion of migrant workers experience discrimination and harassment compared to native workers and that, in large part, such discrimination is based on gender, sexual orientation or religion. Similar results have been found in other national studies like the one carried out in Finland by Bergbom et al. (2015) which reported that the risk of being bullied was nearly three times higher in immigrant workers than in nationals. Similarly, in the study conducted in New Zealand by Daldy, Poot, and Roskruge (2013), the authors observed that migrants were significantly more likely to report cases of discrimination in the workplace than those born in that country. This discrimination was also perceived with greater intensity in migrants with higher education and competences or previous work experience. Furthermore, Krings, Johnston, Binggeli, and Maggiori (2014), in their study with workers in Switzerland, found more cases of subtle discrimination and workplace incivility, especially toward groups of highly skilled migrants who were perceived as highly competitive.


Effects on Health

The problems outlined above (worse job conditions, career difficulties, lack of autonomy and decision-making, absence of social relationships at work) will consequently have repercussions on the health and well-being of migrant workers. There are studies that find an association between certain psychosocial conditions related to socio-occupational factors linked to migration and the higher prevalence of not only physical ailments but especially worse mental health (Rechel, Mladovsky, Ingleby, Mackenbach, & McKee, 2013). Many authors have pointed out that generalised situations of adverse psychosocial factors, as well as the accumulated number of challenges and negative events that they have to face, particularly in the workplace, lead to a higher prevalence of anxiety (Roura, Bisoffi, Navaza, & Pool, 2015) and a predisposition toward depressive symptoms (Nadim et al., 2016; Qureshi & Al-Bedah, 2013; Schrier et al., 2010) among migrant workers. This association is stronger in periods of economic crisis when worsening employment


F. D. Bretones

conditions will aggravate the poor mental health of these workers (Robert, Martínez, García, Benavides, & Ronda-Pérez, 2014). The lack of language skills in the destination country has also been cited as another factor affecting the health of migrant workers. Some authors (Porru et al., 2014) have suggested that language barriers also hinder access to work safety information or the ability to express needs for care. This causes an increased risk of suffering from diseases, as well as greater difficulties in accessing prevention and health services (Gany, Novo, Dobslaw, & Leng, 2013; Toselli, Gualdi-Russo, Marzouk, Sundquist, & Sundquist, 2014). The differentiated use of the health care services from migrants has been another subject under study. Thus, a review study based on 38 papers published in PubMed (Graetz, Rechel, Groot, Norredam, & Pavlova, 2017) discovered that migrants use the emergency services more often than natives, however they use less the primary health services. This fact suggested that migrants had an unequal access to health care services. However, opposite results were found in other previous review studies (Norredam, Nielsen, & Krasnik, 2010). Nevertheless, the relationships between migration and deteriorating mental health are not sufficiently clear. Some studies have even shown the opposite trend (Razum, Zeeb & Rohrmann, 2000) when comparing the mental health of migrant workers to national workers. In a study of American workers, (Lindert, Ehrenstein, Priebe, Mielck, & Brahler, 2009) the authors found similar rates of depression and anxiety among migrant workers with respect to the general population. Results in the same direction were found in the case of burnout (Sundin, Soares, Grossi, & Macassa, 2011) in which the authors did not find differences between national and migrant workers. All of these arguments generate one of the great paradoxes in the study of psychosocial risks and their impact on health. They call into question the relationship between poorer working conditions and suffering from fewer health problems than the native population. There may be several explanations for this paradox. Some authors (Palloni & Morenoff, 2001; Razum, Zeeb & Rohrmann, 2000) have attributed the lack of differences between national and foreign workers to the “healthy migrant” hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, migrant workers tend to be younger and healthier when they emigrate to a new country and, over time, these effects decrease due to exposure to poor living and working conditions. Other authors have indicated that the lack of significant differences in health processes could suggest that migrant workers, despite suffering from more adverse working and employment conditions, develop better coping skills than native workers to deal with them. They are more resistant and report fewer health problems because their desire to appear healthy and productive to the employer (Doki, Sasahara, & Matsuzaki, 2018; Patino & Kirchner, 2010; Winkelman, Chaney, & Bethel, 2013). Moreover, some authors have mentioned the existence of greater barriers for the access to health care services in migrant population (Norredam et al., 2010). These barriers are both formal (legal restrictions, payment for certain services) and informal (language, cultural differences between the therapist and the patient).

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


Finally, another alternative explanation for the better health of migrants may be due to different processes in the self-perception of health. In a systematic review of various studies carried out in migrant populations (Nielsen & Krasnik, 2010), the authors found that they had worse self-perceived health compared to the native population, even after controlling for other external factors such as gender and socioeconomics. In other words, simply the mere fact of being a migrant increased the negative effects on the perception of health in general. However, this leads us to the question of whether different ethnic groups assign the same significance to the concept of health and well-being, or, conversely, these are culturally subjective perceptions (Napier et al., 2014). The latter opens the door to new research that would facilitate the clarification of our understanding of social and health phenomena. Nevertheless, there is still no consensus regarding the mechanisms that may explain the lack of significant differences in this area.


Limitations and Avenues for Future Research

So far, we have reviewed how migrants are one of the most vulnerable groups of workers and are therefore more exposed to psychosocial risks at work, some of which are specific to this social group. Nevertheless, the relationship between migrant workers and psychosocial risks still has several limitations. On the subject matter of the research itself, which has been overly focussed on processes of general health or access to health care systems (Bambra, 2011; Gil-González et al., 2015; Rechel et al., 2013), there has been a failure to consider other psychosocial variables of the work environment that affect the health of the worker. Furthermore, numerous studies have been conducted using cross-sectional designs that do not allow observance of the impact of psychosocial risks throughout the migratory process over time, nor do they consider the heterogeneity of migrant worker populations (Bretones, González-Martínez, González-González, Delgado, & Sánchez, 2016; Sterud et al., 2018). Longitudinal studies would allow for the control of extraneous variables in the causal relationships between the study variables. Moreover, there are difficulties in generalising the results to the entire group because most of the research has been carried out with non-representative samples of migrants in low-skilled jobs (Agudelo-Suarez et al., 2011; Ronda-Pérez, AgudeloSuárez, López-Jacob, García, & Benavides, 2014), or non-skilled jobs. There is also a danger of perpetuating the negative stereotype of them. In summary, we find that migration is not a problem of one-time period or a particular country. On the contrary, migratory flows have continued and even grown in all countries in recent decades, becoming a hot topic of social debate. The study of psychosocial risks in migrant workers should, therefore, be a social and scientific priority. We believe in the need to continue conducting more studies in the future which will allow us to replicate and better understand the situation of different countries, as well as to analyse subgroups of immigrants in depth. We find the


F. D. Bretones

study of psychosocial risks in migrant workers to be a new and promising line of research in the field of occupational health. Migration is a topic of real social and economic importance and its development and interest to researchers and professionals in the field of health and human resources continues to increase. Acknowledgments This chapter is part of the research project “Business Ethics: Normativity and Economic Behavior. A New Social Contract” (FFI2017-87953R) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

References Aalto, A. M., Heponiemi, T., Keskimäki, I., Kuusio, H., Hietapakka, L., Lämsä, R., et al. (2014). Employment, psychosocial work environment and well-being among migrant and native physicians in Finnish health care. European Journal of Public Health, 24(3), 445–451. https://doi. org/10.1093/eurpub/cku021 Agudelo-Suarez, A. A., Ronda-Pérez, E., Gil-González, D., Vives-Cases, C., Garcia, A. M., & Ruiz-Frutos, C. (2011). The effect of perceived discrimination on the health of immigrant workers in Spain. BMC Public Health, 11, 652. Ahonen, E. Q., & Benavides, F. G. (2017). Injury at work and migrant workers: A priority for a global agenda in occupational health. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 74(4), 231–232. Ahonen, E. Q., Porthé, V., Vázquez, M. L., García, A. M., López-Jacob, M. J., Ruiz-Frutos, C., et al. (2009). A qualitative study about immigrant workers’ perceptions of their working conditions in Spain. Journal of Epidemiology Community Health, 63, 936–942. https://doi. org/10.1136/jech.2008.077016 Aldaz-Odriozola, L., & Eguía-Peña, B. (2015). Immigration and the labor market: Labor niches by gender and nationality in Spain. Revista de Estudios Sociales, 54, 68–80. 7440/res54.2015.05 Aleksynska, M., & Tritah, A. (2013). Occupation–education mismatch of immigrant workers in Europe: Context and policies. Economics of Education Review, 36, 229–244. 1016/j.econedurev.2013.06.001 Alvarado, L., & Bretones, F. D. (2018). Concepciones teórico-metodológicas sobre el enfoque integral de la salud y seguridad y sus categorías fundamentales. In O. Orozco (Ed.), Seguridad integral en el trabajo: Un enfoque psicosocial (pp. 77–88). Cali: Editorial Bonaventuriana. An, J. Y., Cha, S., Moon, H., Ruggiero, J. S., & Jang, H. (2016). Factors affecting job satisfaction of immigrant Korean nurses. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 27(2), 126–135. 1177/1043659614539175 Bambra, C. (2011). The psychosocial work environment and risks to health. Work, worklessness, and the political economy of health. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bergbom, B., & Kinnunen, U. (2014). Immigrants and host nationals at work: Associations of co-worker relations with employee well-being. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 43, 165–176. Bergbom, B., Vartia-Vaananen, M., & Kinnunen, U. (2015). Immigrants and natives at work: Exposure to workplace bullying. Employee Relations, 37(2), 158–175. ER-09-2014-0101 Boucher, A. K. (2019). How ‘skill’definition affects the diversity of skilled immigration policies. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1–18. 1561063

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


Bretones, F. D., González-Martínez, R., González-González, J. M., Delgado, A., & Sánchez, E. (2016). El ámbito de la prevención de riesgos laborales está necesitado de investigación. In J. J. Cañas (Ed.), Guía de buenas prácticas en ergonomía aplicada a la prevención de los riesgos laborales de tipo psicosocial (pp. 229–267). Madrid: Fundación de Prevencion de Riesgos Laborales UGT. Bretones, F. D., & Jáimez, M. J. (2011). Organizaciones saludables: Más allá de la prevención de riesgos laborales. In S. Garay & S. Vázquez (Eds.), El trabajo en diferentes grupos poblacionales: Oportunidades y desigualdades en el empleo (pp. 165–190). Monterrey: Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. Bretones, F. D., Jain, A., Leka, S., & García, P. A. (2020). Psychosocial working conditions and wellbeing of migrant workers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 2547. Buttner, H. E., & Lowe, K. B. (2017). Equality, diversity and inclusion. International Journal, 36 (1), 73–89. Caparrós, A. (2014). Wage inequality of immigrants by type of contract in Spain. International Journal of Manpower, 35(6), 817–833. Carayon, P., Haims, M. C., & Yang, C. L. (2001). Psychosocial work factors and work organization. The international encyclopedia of ergonomics and human factors. Geneva: International Labour Organisation. Chen, C., Smith, P., & Mustard, C. (2010). The prevalence of over-qualification and its association with health status among occupationally active new immigrants to Canada. Ethnicity & Health, 15(6), 601–619. Cox, T., & Griffiths, A. J. (1996). The assessment of psychosocial hazards at work. In M. J. Schabracq, J. A. M. Winnubst, & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Handbook of work and health psychology. Chichester: Wiley and Sons. Crowley-Henry, M., & Al Ariss, A. (2018). Talent management of skilled migrants: Propositions and an agenda for future research. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29 (13), 2054–2079. Cueto, B., & Rodríguez Álvarez, V. (2015). Determinants of immigrant self-employment in Spain. International Journal of Manpower, 36(6), 895–911. Dahlstedt, I. (2011). Occupational match. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 12 (3), 349–367. Daldy, B., Poot, J., & Roskruge, M. (2013). Perception of workplace discrimination among immigrants and native born New Zealanders. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 16(1), 137–154. De Beijl, R. Z. (Ed.). (2000). Documenting discrimination against migrant workers in the labour market: A comparative study of four European countries. Geneva: International Labour Organization. Dean, J. A., & Wilson, K. (2009). ‘Education? It is irrelevant to my job now. It makes me very depressed. . .’: Exploring the health impacts of under/unemployment among highly skilled recent immigrants in Canada. Ethnicity & Health, 14(2), 185–204. 13557850802227049 Deci, E. L., Olafsen, A. H., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). Self-determination theory in work organizations: The state of a science. The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4, 19–43. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. S15327965PLI1104_01 Diaz-Serrano, L. (2013). Immigrants, natives and job quality: Evidence from Spain. International Journal of Manpower, 34(7), 753–775. Dietz, J., Joshi, C., Esses, V. M., Hamilton, L. K., & Gabarrot, F. (2015). The skill paradox: Explaining and reducing employment discrimination against skilled immigrants. International


F. D. Bretones

Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(10), 318–1334. 09585192.2014.990398 Doki, S., Sasahara, S., & Matsuzaki, I. (2018). Stress of working abroad: A systematic review. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 91(7), 767–784. https://doi. org/10.1007/s00420-018-1333-4 Engbersen, G., & Snel, E. (2013). Liquid migration. Dynamic and fluid patterns of post-accession migration flows. In B. Glorius, I. Grabowska-Lusińska, & A. Kuvik (Eds.), Mobility in transition: Migration patterns after EU enlargement (pp. 21–40). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Eurofound. (2010). Fifth European working conditions survey. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. (2007). Employment and working conditions of migrant workers. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from http://www. Font, A., Moncada, S., Llorens, C., & Benavides, F. G. (2012). Psychosocial factor exposures in the workplace: Differences between immigrants and Spaniards. European Journal of Public Health, 22(5), 688–693. Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and selfdetermination theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Galarneau, D., & Morissette, R. (2009). Immigrants’ education and required job skills. Perspectives on Labour and Income, 21(1), 5–18. Gany, F., Novo, P., Dobslaw, R., & Leng, J. (2013). Urban occupational health in the Mexican and Latino/Latina immigrant population: A literature review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 16(5), 846–855. Garcy, A. M. (2015). Educational mismatch and mortality among native-born workers in Sweden. A 19-year longitudinal study of 2.5 million over-educated, matched and under-educated individuals, 1990–2008. Sociology of Health & Illness, 37(8), 1314–1336. 1467-9566.12312 Gil-González, D., Carrasco-Portiño, M., Vives-Cases, C., Agudelo-Suárez, A. A., CastejónBolea, R., & Ronda-Pérez, E. (2015). Is health a right for all? An umbrella review of the barriers to health care access faced by migrants. Ethnicity & Health, 20(5), 523–541. 1080/13557858.2014.946473 Graetz, V., Rechel, B., Groot, W., Norredam, M., & Pavlova, M. (2017). Utilization of health care services by migrants in Europe-a systematic literature review. British Medical Bulletin., 121, 5–18. Green, C., Kler, P., & Leeves, G. (2007). Immigrant overeducation: Evidence from recent arrivals to Australia. Economics of Education Review, 26(4), 420–432. econedurev.2006.02.005 Hakak, L. T., Holzinger, I., & Zikic, J. (2010). Barriers and paths to success: Latin American MBAs’ views of employment in Canada. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(2), 159–176. Ho, W. C., & Cheung, C. K. (2016). Migrant families as effective buffers against discrimination: The perceived work–care conflict and household conditions of mothers. Journal of Social Work, 16(2), 155–173. Hopkins, B. (2017). Analysing the “migrant work ethic” – Comparing managers’ perceptions of local workers and Central and Eastern European migrants in the United Kingdom. European Urban and Regional Studies, 24(4), 442–452. Hopkins, B., & Dawson, C. (2016). Migrant workers and involuntary non-permanent jobs: Agencies as new IR actors? Industrial Relations Journal, 47(2), 163–180. 12134 Hoppe, A. (2011). Psychosocial working conditions and well-being among immigrant and German low-wage workers. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(2), 187–201. https://doi. org/10.1037/a0021728

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


Houdmont, J., Kerr, R., & Addley, K. (2012). Psychosocial factors and economic recession: The Stormont study. Occupational Medicine, 62(2), 98–104. kqr216 International Labour Organisation. (1986). Psychosocial factors at work: Recognitionand control. Geneve: ILO. Jørgensen, M. B. (2016). Precariat–what it is and isn’t–towards an understanding of what it does. Critical Sociology, 42(7–8), 959–974. Kalleberg, A. L. (2012). Job quality and precarious work: Clarifications, controversies, and challenges. Work and Occupations, 39(4), 427–448. 0730888412460533 Kerr, S. P., Kerr, W., Özden, Ç., & Parsons, C. (2017). High-skilled migration and agglomeration. Annual Review of Economics, 9, 201–234. Krings, F., Johnston, C., Binggeli, S., & Maggiori, C. (2014). Selective incivility: Immigrant groups experience subtle workplace discrimination at different rates. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20(4), 491–498. Labrianidis, L., & Vogiatzis, N. (2013). Highly skilled migration: What differentiates the “brains” who are drained from those who return in the case of Greece? Population, Space and Place, 19 (5), 472–486. Landolt, S., & Thieme, S. (2018). Highly skilled migrants entering the labour market: Experiences and strategies in the contested field of overqualification and skills mismatch. Geoforum, 90, 36–44. Leão, L. H. d. C., Muraro, A. P., Palos, C. C., Martins, M. A. C., & Borges, F. T. (2017). Migração internacional, saúde e trabalho: Uma análise sobre os haitianos em Mato Grosso, Brasil. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 33(7), 1–7. Lee, C. K., & Kofman, Y. (2012). The politics of precarity: Views beyond the United States. Work and Occupations, 39(4), 388–408. Leka, S., & Cox, T. (2008). The European frame work for psychosocial risk management: PRIMAEF. Nottingham: PRIMA-EF. I-WHO Publications. Leka, S., & Jain, A. (2010). Health impact of psychosocial hazards at work: An overview. Geneva: World Health Organization. Leka, S., Jain, A., & Lerouge, L. (2017). Work-related psychosocial risks: Key definitions and an overview of the policy context in Europe. In Psychosocial risks in labour and social security law (pp. 1–12). Cham: Springer. Lindert, J., Ehrenstein, O. S., Priebe, S., Mielck, A., & Brahler, E. (2009). Depression and anxiety in labor migrants and refugees-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 69(2), 246–257. Mehra, S., & Singh, G. (2014). Implications of migration: A case study of industrial migrant Labourers in Ludhiana. Economic Affairs, 59(10), 117–127. Milczarek, M., Irastorza, X., Leka, S., Jain, A., Iavicoli, S., Mirabile, M., et al. (2012). Drivers and barriers for psychosocial risk management: An analysis of the findings of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER). European Union European Agency for Safety and health at Work. Nadim, W., AlOtaibi, A., Al-Mohaimeed, A., Ewid, M., Sarhandi, M., Saquib, J., et al. (2016). Depression among migrant workers in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 206, 103–108. Napier, A. D., Ancarno, C., Butler, B., Calabrese, J., Chater, A., Chatterjee, H., et al. (2014). Culture and health. The Lancet, 384(9954), 1607–1639. (14)61603-2 Nielsen, S. S., & Krasnik, A. (2010). Poorer self-perceived health among migrants and ethnic minorities versus the majority population in Europe: A systematic review. International Journal of Public Health, 55(5), 357–371.


F. D. Bretones

Norredam, M., Nielsen, S. S., & Krasnik, A. (2010). Migrants’ utilization of somatic healthcare services in Europe—A systematic review. European Journal of Public Health, 20(5), 555–563. Occhiuto, N. (2017). Investing in independent contract work: The significance of schedule control for taxi drivers. Work and Occupations, 44(3), 268–295. 0730888417697231 Olafsen, A. H., Niemiec, C. P., Halvari, H., Deci, E. L., & Williams, G. C. (2017). On the dark side of work: A longitudinal analysis using self-determination theory. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26(2), 275–285. 1257611 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2012). Sick on the job?: Myths and realities about mental health and work. Paris: OECD. Palloni, A., & Morenoff, J. D. (2001). Interpreting the paradoxical in the Hispanic paradox. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 954(1), 140–174. 2001.tb02751.x Patino, C., & Kirchner, T. (2010). Stress and psychopathology in latin-american immigrants: The role of coping strategies. Psychopathology, 43(1), 17–24. Paul, A. M. (2011). Stepwise international migration: A multistage migration pattern for the aspiring migrant. American Journal of Sociology, 116(6), 1842–1886. 659641 Pearson, J., Hammond, M., Heffernan, E., & Turner, T. (2012). Careers and talents not to be wasted. Journal of Management Development, 31(2), 102–115. 02621711211199458 Porru, S., Elmetti, S., & Arici, C. (2014). Psychosocial risk among migrant workers: What we can learn from literature and field experiences. La Medicina del Lavoro, 105(2), 109–129. Premji, S., & Smith, P. M. (2013). Education-to-job mismatch and the risk of work injury. Injury Prevention, 19(2), 106–111. Qureshi, N. A., & Al-Bedah, A. M. (2013). Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: A literature review. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 9, 639–658. https://doi. org/10.2147/NDT.S43419 Rajendran, D., Farquharson, K., & Hewege, C. (2017). Workplace integration: The lived experiences of highly skilled migrants in Australia. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 36(5), 437–456. Razum, O., Zeeb, H., & Rohrmann, S. (2000). The ‘healthy migrant effect’–not merely a fallacy of inaccurate denominator figures. International Journal of Epidemiology, 29(1), 191–192. https:// Rechel, B., Mladovsky, P., Ingleby, D., Mackenbach, J. P., & McKee, M. (2013). Migration and health in an increasingly diverse Europe. The Lancet, 381(9873), 1235–1245. 1016/S0140-6736(12)62086-8 Remennick, L. (2013). Professional identities in transit: Factors shaping immigrant labour market success. International Migration, 51(1), 152–168. 00733.x Robert, G., Martínez, J. M., García, A. M., Benavides, F. G., & Ronda-Pérez, E. (2014). From the boom to the crisis: Changes in employment conditions of immigrants in Spain and their effects on mental health. The European Journal of Public Health, 24(3), 404–409. 1093/eurpub/cku020 Ronda-Pérez, E., Agudelo-Suárez, A., López-Jacob, M. J., García, A. M., & Benavides, F. G. (2014). Condiciones de trabajo y salud de los trabajadores inmigrantes en España. Revista Española de Salud Pública, 88(6), 703–714. Ronda-Pérez, E., Benavides, F. G., Levecque, K., Love, J. G., Felt, E., & Van Rossem, R. (2012). Differences in working conditions and employment arrangements among migrant and

5 Psychosocial Hazards at Work in Migrants


non-migrant workers in Europe. Ethnicity & Health, 17(6), 563–577. 13557858.2012.730606 Ronda-Perez, E., Briones-Vozmediano, E., Galon, T., García, A. M., Benavides, F. G., & AgudeloSuárez, A. A. (2015). A qualitative exploration of the impact of the economic recession in Spain on working, living and health conditions: Reflections based on immigrant workers’ experiences. Health Expectations, 19(2), 416–426. Rooth, D. O., & Ekberg, J. (2006). Occupational mobility for immigrants in Sweden. International Migration, 44(2), 57–77. Roura, M., Bisoffi, F., Navaza, B., & Pool, R. (2015). “Carrying ibuprofen in the bag”: Priority health concerns of Latin American migrants in Spain-A participatory qualitative study. PLoS One, 10(8), e0136315. Ryan, L., Sales, R., Tikki, M., & Siara, B. (2008). Social networks, social support and social capital: The experiences of recent polish migrants in London. Sociology, 42(4), 672–690. https://doi. org/10.1177/0038038508091622 Schierup, C. U., Munck, R., Likic-Brboric, B., & Neergaard, A. (Eds.). (2015). Migration, precarity, and global governance: Challenges and opportunities for labour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schilgen, B., Nienhaus, A., Handtke, O., Schulz, H., & Moesko, M. (2017). Health situation of migrant and minority nurses: A systematic review. PLoS One, 12(6), e0179183. 10.1371/journal.pone.0179183 Schrier, A. C., de Wit, M. A., Rijmen, F., Tuinebreijer, W. C., Verhoeff, A. P., Kupka, R. W., et al. (2010). Similarity in depressive symptom profile in a population-based study of migrants in the Netherlands. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 45(10), 941–951. 10.1007/s00127-009-0135-0 Smith, P. M., & Mustard, C. A. (2010). The unequal distribution of occupational health and safety risks among immigrants to Canada compared to Canadian-born labour market participants: 1993–2005. Safety Scirence, 48(10), 1296–1303. Solé, M., Diaz-Serrano, L., & Rodríguez, M. (2013). Disparities in work, risk and health between immigrants and native-born Spaniards. Social Science & Medicine, 76, 179–187. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.10.022 Standing, G. (2011). The precariat: The new dangerous class. New York: Bloomsbury. Sterud, T., Tynes, T., Mehlum, I. S., Veiersted, K. B., Bergbom, B., Airila, A., et al. (2018). A systematic review of working conditions and occupational health among immigrants in Europe and Canada. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 770–785. Sundin, Ö., Soares, J., Grossi, G., & Macassa, G. (2011). Burnout among foreign-born and native Swedish women: A longitudinal study. Women & Health, 51(7), 643–660. 1080/03630242.2011.618529 Tataryn, A., & Tataryn, A. (2017). Re-conceptualizing labor law in an era of migration and precarity. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 1–22. Teoh, K., & Hassard, J. (2016). Introduction to migrant workers. Occupational safety & health wikipedia – The encyclopaedia of the European agency for safety & health at work. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from workers%E2%80%9D Torá, I., Martínez, J. M., Benavides, F. G., Leveque, K., & Ronda-Pérez, E. (2015). Effect of economic recession on psychosocial working conditions by workers’ nationality. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 21(4), 328–332. 10773525.2015.1122369 Toselli, S., Gualdi-Russo, E., Marzouk, D., Sundquist, J., & Sundquist, K. (2014). Psychosocial health among immigrants in central and southern Europe. European Journal of Public Health, 24(Suppl. 1), 26–30. Townsend, R., Pascal, J., & Delves, M. (2014). South East Asian migrant experiences in regional Victoria: Exploring well-being. Journal of Sociology, 50(4), 601–615. 1440783312473187


F. D. Bretones

Trépanier, S. G., Fernet, C., & Austin, S. (2015). A longitudinal investigation of workplace bullying, basic need satisfaction, and employee functioning. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20(1), 105. Van den Broeck, A., Vansteenkiste, M., De Witte, H., & Lens, W. (2008). Explaining the relationships between job characteristics, burnout, and engagement: The role of basic psychological need satisfaction. Work & Stress, 22(3), 277–294. Winkelman, S. B., Chaney, E. H., & Bethel, J. W. (2013). Stress, depression and coping among Latino migrant and seasonal farmworkers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(5), 1815–1830. World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). WHO healthy workplace framework. Geneva: WHO. World Health Organization (WHO). (2011). Impact of economic crises on mental health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. Yap, M., Holmes, M., Hannan, C. A., & Cukier, W. (2014). Correlates of career satisfaction in Canada-The immigrants’ experience. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 15(1), 49–71.

Francisco Díaz Bretones is an Associate Professor at the University of Granada (Spain), holds his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the same university. Currently he is Head of the Well-being for Individual, Society and Enterprise (WISE) research group at the University of Granada. Previously, he was associate professor at the University of Tamaulipas (Mexico). He has been Visiting Professor in several foreign universities (University of Western Ontario, Princeton University, Burgundy School of Business, among others). His research interests are focused on worker’s emotions, and especially on disadvantaged social groups such as immigrant workers, among others. He has more than 40 articles published in high impact academic journals with more than 1000 citations overall and 27 books and chapters. Also, he has participated in 12 international research projects with several European and Latin American universities, for example, in a research about Psychosocial Emergent Risks in SMEs funded by the European Commission or the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Strategies in Andalusia project.

Chapter 6

Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health Luis E. Alvarado



Social conditions of work or work-related psychosocial factors have different impacts on the health of people who work (Alvarado & Bretones, 2018a, 2018b; Burr, Hasselhorn, Kersten, Pohrt, & Rugulies, 2017; Johannessen, Gravseth, & Sterud, 2015; van der Klauw, Hengel, Roozeboom, Koppes, & Venema, 2016), in such a way that when the conditions of work, its organization, safety and protection are provided, we could point out that this is a healthy organization. They will also be characterized by the existence of appropriate relationships between people; accommodating skills, expectations and aspirations; and a fair recognition of the product of their work, which enables them to meet their needs and those of their family with dignity. In these circumstances, well-being is generated in people (Acosta, CruzOrtiz, Salanova, & Llorens, 2015; Di Fabio, 2017; Palazzeschi, Bucci, & Di Fabio, 2018; Purwohandoko & Salsabil, 2017). However, the situation described above does not constitute the norm in many cases and less so with migrant workers. So, in a context where organizations are trying to reduce their costs along with an increase in the demands on productivity (Alvarez, 2015; Petrarca & Terzi, 2018), interventions in the prevention and protection of workers is not usually the biggest priority (Alvarado & Bretones, 2018a, 2018b) in such a way that the spaces and opportunities for human relationships are reduced in work activity (Tappura, Nenonen, & Kivistö-Rahnasto, 2017), the measures and demands of supervision, sometimes with sophisticated technical means of surveillance are increasing (Marler & Liang, 2012), and the remuneration and recognition do not satisfy the workers’ expectations and needs (Dollard, Winefield,

L. E. Alvarado (*) University of Guayaquil, Guayaquil, Ecuador e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



L. E. Alvarado

Winefield, & de Jonge, 2000). Obviously, against this background, organizations become unhealthy places and generators of potential psychosocial and mental health problems. This matter will be made even worse in the case of migrant workers (Kalleberg, 2009; Porthé et al., 2010; Ronda Pérez et al., 2012), who occupy more precarious jobs in more isolated social conditions and, therefore, with wider negative implications for their physical and mental health and in their quality of life (Mora et al., 2014). In this context, some authors suggest that working in an organization with a higher proportion of migrants is associated with higher chances of poor physical and psychological health as well as constituting an original source of social tension (Fan & Qian, 2017; Meuleman, Davidov, & Billiet, 2009). From a sociocultural perspective, migrant workers will face a variety of problems, including the lack of language, problems of discrimination, culture shock, or the lack of information about health services and social protection. All of them with a huge influence on the mental health of these workers (Drbohlav & Dzúrová, 2017; Shishehgar, Gholizadeh, DiGiacomo, & Davidson, 2015).


Types of Employment Activity of Migrant Workers

Although we can find migrant workers in any type of economic activity, many of them often take on unqualified and precarious work, also called dirty work, so various studies have tried to analyze the relationships between the type of work and the associated problems of health and well-being. Among them, we can mention those who work as home carers, and who constitute a vulnerable group in society, often in terms of work, sexual, physical or emotional abuse and/or exploitation (Green & Ayalon, 2017). Another traditional sector they usually work in is the construction sector (Betancourt, Shaahinfar, Kellner, Dhavan, & Williams, 2013) and where they usually have limited access to medical care, being a group which is vulnerable to exploitation by some employers (Guldenmund, Cleal, & Mearns, 2013; Baey & Yeoh, 2018). A third traditional sector that migrant workers work in is agriculture, where they usually suffer from higher levels of anxiety and depression (Hovey & Magaña, 2000), a lack of social support, low family income, the use of narcotic substances and poor living conditions (O’Connor, Stoecklin-Marois, & Schenker, 2013). In the cleaning industry, migrant workers have also experienced labor exploitation from their position of vulnerability, assuming as normal a forced flexibility in the labor market and accepting any job under any terms due to the lack of negotiation power (Ollus, 2016). Furthermore, migrants who work in the cleaning sector experience a lack of visibility and social recognition for their work (Hviid, Smith, Frydendall, & Flyvholm, 2013). A similar situation was found with hotel cleaners (Hsieh, Apostolopoulos, & Sönmez, 2016) who are more exposed to various psychological risks in the workplace, such as the time pressure for cleaning rooms and

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


stress with multiple different effects, such as psychological distress, anxiety, depression, negative emptions, and sleep disorders. A separate case would be that of women working in prostitution who don’t just suffer violence, bullying and exploitation from organized networks or Mafia, but also suffer other fear-generating emotional risks (Sanders, 2004), or loneliness, limited social support and isolation. All of this will increase their vulnerability to clinical levels of psychological disorders (Sweeney & FitzGerald, 2017), with greater mental health problems, including depression and suicidal thoughts (Huang et al., 2014).


Implications for the Psychosocial and Mental Health of Migrant Workers

In any case, and regardless of the sector of activity they work in, different studies have shown that migrant workers in general have worse working conditions and poorer working environments than their native colleagues, which causes poorer mental health since they are exposed to other additional harmful factors such as uprooting, the burden of family in their home countries and social discrimination (Adhikary, Sheppard, Keen, & van Teijlingen, 2018; Agudelo-Suárez et al., 2013). To all of these factors we must add other social conditions such as limited social mobility, or a higher rate of traumatic life events which may contribute to experiencing higher levels of psychiatric symptoms (Vega, Warheit, & Palacio, 1985); women also being the most disadvantaged group in terms of prevalence and risk factors (Del Amo et al., 2011), in comparison with the native population (Johnson, Rostila, Svensson, & Engström, 2017); and which may lead to some cases of suicidal thoughts and behavior (Hsieh, Apostolopoulos, Hatzudis, & Sönmez, 2016; Lai, Li, & Daoust, 2017). Migrant workers also experience different forms of stress caused by the lack of familiarity with the new environment, the culture and the process of acculturation itself and adaptation to the environment, as well as the lack of a sense of belonging to the new social group (Doki, Sasahara, & Matsuzaki, 2018; Weishaar, 2008; Zhong et al., 2016). However, it is also necessary to qualify the types or modes of acculturation, since the differences in the process of acculturation for the different groups of migrants must be considered (Bulut & Gayman, 2016). Thus, for example, the processes will be very different in the case of academics, who have more cognitive and economic resources (Gheorghiu & Stephens, 2016), than in the case of agricultural workers who will develop greater affective disorders, anxiety disorders, and even substance abuse or dependence (Alderet, Vega, Kolody, & AguilarGaxiola, 2000).


L. E. Alvarado

Also in the organizational sphere, various studies point to diverse stress factors in the jobs of migrants, from social isolation, to safety factors, coercive working conditions, high demands, low control and lack of social support from supervisors and colleagues (Andersson, Hjern, & Ascher, 2018; Hiott, Grzywacz, Davis, Quandt, & Arcury, 2008; Ladin & Reinhold, 2013; Lunner Kolstrup et al., 2013; Meyer et al., 2016), which lead to a poor psychosocial environment. One of the consequences of these poor psychosocial conditions of work, will be an increased prevalence in the rates of depression and anxiety (Lindert, Ehrenstein, Priebe, Mielck, & Brähler, 2009). In this respect, such mental health problems have been found in different ethnic groups and countries, such as the studies carried out on African migrants in Amsterdam (Agyei et al., 2014); in the construction industry in the United Arab Emirates (Al-Maskari et al., 2011), or Saudi Arabia (Nadim et al., 2016); as well as Latin American agricultural migrant workers in the United States (Ramos, Su, Lander, & Rivera, 2015). In all of them, the symptoms of mild or moderate depression were much greater, being particularly higher among single people (Grzywacz et al., 2010; Luo et al., 2018), who have greater problems of social support networks. Other authors have similarly pointed out, in addition to these mental health problems, the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs (Negi, 2011; Perez-Carceles et al., 2014; Valdez, Cepeda, Negi, & Kaplan, 2010), smoking (Liu et al., 2015), as well as risky sexual behavior (Organista, Arreola, & Neilands, 2016) as consequences in many cases of the processes of isolation, as well as greater vulnerability. In addition to all of these problems, it should be added that migrants do not have adequate access to health services, due to the lack of access to regular, or quality, medical services (Castañeda, 2013), being largely excluded from medical care or not having access to the whole range of treatments. In spite of this, various studies have shown differences in the use of health services among migrants and their host communities which have been described in countries and continents. Thus, Derr (2016), showed that migrants from Asia, Latin America and Africa use mental health services at lower rates than the local population, in spite of the fact that migrants have greater need, as we have seen. The study carried out by Abe-Kim et al. (2007), is also interesting, as they found a lower usage of health services among Asian migrants in the United States than among citizens of Asian origin who were born in the United States. However, we must be cautious since, as Diaz et al. (2017), point out, many studies could have methodological and cultural adaptation issues because they lack clear information in the development of the design of adaptation of the pilot tests carried out, or in the refining of the adaptation. For this reason, as we have pointed out, neither the conditions of work, or the activities assigned to the migrants, are favorable for the development of healthy psychological environments, we must also consider other personal, organizational and social factors which mediate in this relationship between work conditions and mental health, and which can be useful when it comes to managing how to reduce the negative impact of the psychosocial context of the work of migrants. Among the factors studied that can be considered, are migrants’ personal and social resources (Jibeen, 2011), including the sense of coherence, the perceived

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


social support and coping strategies which favor positive functioning (selfacceptance, positive relationships with others, autonomy, environmental domain, life purpose, personal growth), and avoid negative health outcomes (depression, psychosomatic symptoms, anxiety, insomnia and social dysfunction). In this manner, Perreault, Touré, Perreault, and Caron (2017) found that social support had a mediating effect between conditions of work in symptoms of depression and distress in under 45s. The effect suggests that social relationships with work colleagues mediated over nostalgia and psychological distress, probably because these workers had more psychological resources so they didn’t need to use avoidance strategies (Griffin & Soskolne, 2003). Besides, the studies by Kotwal (2010) suggest that feelings of emptiness generally indicate a higher susceptibility to psychological problems. Aryee, Sun, Chen, and Debrah (2008) also observed that the structure of the unit of work moderated the relationship between abusive supervision and the two dimensions of contextual performance, so that the relationship was stronger in the structure of mechanistic units of work than in those that are organic.


Intervention Strategies for the Prevention and Promotion of Occupational Health

The impact of these factors (personal, social and organizational) enables us to point to some intervention strategies to carry out for the purpose of improving the occupational health of migrant workers. Various authors (Jasinskaja-Lahti, Liebkind, Jaakkola, & Reuter, 2006; Wong & Leung, 2008) suggest that support and social camaraderie would contribute significantly to the psychological well-being of migrant workers, so they advise having workshops and processes of advice and counselling, as well as the strengthening of informal support networks. It has also been proven that an appropriate style of work management is positively associated with the physical and psychological health and quality of life of migrant workers (Anjara, Nellums, Bonetto, & Van Bortel, 2017); or that the participation of these groups in social support contributes to intrapersonal improvements (self-acceptance, improved mental health), interpersonal improvements (reduced isolation, strengthened friendships), and community improvements (reciprocity, reduced stigma and discrimination). Na, Ryder, and Kirmayer (2016) make another suggestion. These authors claim that, even if cultural factors have been identified that may prevent migrants seeking mental health support, few studies have explored ways of encouraging appropriate requests for help and the use of mental health services. For this reason, they emphasize the need to carry out literacy activities in mental health with this population as a strategy to increase the appropriate search for help and use of services. As another intervention resource, Loh and Klug (2012) point out that resilience constitutes an important mediation factor in the acculturation process for new


L. E. Alvarado

migrant workers, which would also help to minimize psychological distress, so training in social coping strategies would be advisable (Bosmans et al., 2016). Thus, for cases of workplace discrimination and which are related to psychological distress, the authors highlight the coping strategies orientated towards the problem as being more favorable than those orientated towards emotion or avoidance. Furthermore, it is known that the under-management of these strategies of emotion or avoidance cushion the adverse impact of the discrimination in the distress (Noor & Shaker, 2017). Another contribution in this regard, would be socially orientated coping strategies, as well as spirituality, which would play an important role as personal resources (Van Der Ham, Ujano-Batangan, Ignacio, & Wolffers, 2014). Another strategy could be the development of cultural events Lai (2010) which can be a good element of prevention, especially for the problems of isolation and public invisibility of migrants since they contribute significantly to their activism and integration in the new host communities (Kfir & Kemp, 2016). Also, the promotion and carrying out of entrepreneurial activities could be another good prevention strategy (González-González, Bretones, Zarco, & Rodríguez, 2011), especially for women, since they can be seen as models who are breaking stereotypes and prejudices (both in terms of gender and social group). As business women, entrepreneurship will help them to overcome the notion that has been built socially through preconceived images of poverty, marginalization and ethnic conflicts, creating a positive social representation. In any case, and from a more social perspective, some authors (Verhagen, Ros, Steunenberg, & de Wit, 2014) consider that greater attention is needed towards sensitive health services from the cultural point of view and that treatment and care is more accessible to migrants. These authors suggest that these services should pay more attention to the appropriate identification and recruitment of community health workers and that they could integrate themselves even further in the existing local systems of healthcare and social well-being. In addition, other authors (Koukoulaki, 2010; Leka, Jain, Widerszal-Bazyl, Zołnierczyk-Zreda, & Zwetsloot, 2011) demand a greater political will. This should involve changes in the legal framework and of work relations in a way that better reflect the changing nature of work and the increase in the prevalence of new and emerging types of risk to the health and safety of workers, enabling organizations to successfully manage the psychosocial risks in these new workers. This change in work relationships must also include the emergence of a more grass roots unionism, where migrant workers are present (Fine, 2005). All of these contributions are of critical importance in the development of more effective risk reduction programs for migrant workers (Panikkar et al., 2012); even more so when it is known that cultural diversity determines an individual way of understanding mental illness as well as opting for different ways of treatment and recovery (Carpenter-Song et al., 2010).

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health



Psychotherapeutic Interventions with Migrant Workers

We know that the theories and practices in mental health can be limited in their application in culturally diverse environments. They contain constructs and methodologies that suggest ways of interpreting reality and peoples’ perspectives, the meanings of behavior, the etiology of dysfunctions, the criteria of normality and abnormality, and how these are different for each cultural group (Sue, 2001). Therefore, it is relevant to find out the clinical and cultural competence to assess, diagnose and treat migrants, that is, to understand the cultural influences of the phenomenology of illness, the role of the differences of the misunderstandings in clinical language, and the complexities of the culture and migration (Hickling & Paisley, 2012). In this respect, Dantas (2011) suggests that culture is not static, but dynamic, which is built in relationships with other social groups. Therefore, cultures are born from social relationships with other cultural relationships, and these relationships will always be unequal, affecting the processes of cultural and ethnic identity, transnational social networks, acculturation and prejudices. However, Maury, Abbal, and Moro (2016) warn that the cultural dimension should not make us forget the social dimension. The migratory process marked by real or symbolic discoveries and traumas in its origin or during its course, will add others in the destination such as the reception conditions, insecurity, precariousness or exclusion. From this perspective, some authors (Pocreau & Martins-Borges, 2013), propose specialized work of psychological assistance for migrants which facilitates psychological work around pain and identity. By way of example, Boulanger (2015) claims that migrants live double lives, in the sense that they live in parallel between the world they have left and the world they are now living in and where most try to fit in to avoid the alienating experience of being “other”, so that the common themes in the accounts of migrants is fatigue, isolation and other forms of dehumanization or degrading discourse from employers (Ladegaard, 2015). For this reason, Adames, Chavez-Dueñas, Sharma, and La Roche (2018) consider that the challenge should be in maintaining a culturally responsive and culturally aware position when considering the multiple identities of migrants. While Bottura and Mancini (2016) suggest a process of negotiation of identity, in which migrants can reconsider the definition of self. Finally, another element to be considered and which deserves being taken into account in psychotherapeutic interventions, is the need to work with interpreters in the clinical environment, which results in a complex and challenging process, especially when the majority of mental health professionals are not prepared for it (O’Hara & Akinsulure-Smith, 2011).



L. E. Alvarado

Future Recommendations

The negative impact of the work conditions of migrants constitutes a threat to psychosocial and mental health in our current societies in personal, work and social dimensions. Therefore, it will be necessary to continue studying in depth the consequences of the psychosocial risks in each of the sectors of production and services in which they work. Its understanding demands future longitudinal, multi, inter and transdisciplinary research in which migrants’ voices must be taken into account. On the other hand, higher education institutions should include study programs which consider training in mental health and the management of migrant workers, with intercultural perspectives which enable a wider vision and which guarantee the right of these workers to well-being. Furthermore, occupational health systems will should consider and integrate ethnic diversity and cultural competence as an integral part of daily clinical practice in a diverse cultural and globalized world. But in addition, all of these solutions will require political decisions, both those aimed at reducing social isolation supporting the building of social networks, and others which are committed to reviewing immigration policies, favoring social protection and promoting health and well-being which prevent the psychological suffering of migrant workers. The integration of migrants is the responsibility of the States through effective policies, at all levels of society, including educational policy, economic policy, and the specific access of migrants to the social security network, in the face of a reduction in the risk of poverty and discrimination which affects migrants and, in the last instance, the reduction of the vulnerability to mental disorders. Finally, each and every one of us will should also reflect on the phenomenon of migration, and about our participation and real responsibility as actors (whether as consumers, employers, work colleagues and/or citizens) and our influence on the health and well-being of these new workers in today’s societies.

References Abe-Kim, J., Takeuchi, D. T., Hong, S., Zane, N., Sue, S., Spencer, M. S., et al. (2007). Use of mental health-related services among immigrant and US-born Asian Americans: Results from the National Latino and Asian American study. American Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 91–98. Acosta, H., Cruz-Ortiz, V., Salanova, M., & Llorens, S. (2015). Healthy organization: Analysing its meaning based on the HERO model. Revista de Psicologia Social, 30(2), 323–350. https://doi. org/10.1080/21711976.2015.1016751 Adames, H. Y., Chavez-Dueñas, N. Y., Sharma, S., & La Roche, M. J. (2018). Intersectionality in psychotherapy: The experiences of an AfroLatinx queer immigrant. Psychotherapy, 55(1), 73–79.

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


Adhikary, P., Sheppard, Z. A., Keen, S., & van Teijlingen, E. (2018). Health and well-being of Nepalese migrant workers abroad. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 14(1), 96–105. Agudelo-Suárez, A. A., Ronda, E., Vázquez-Navarrete, M. L., García, A. M., Martínez, J. M., & Benavides, F. G. (2013). Impact of economic crisis on mental health of migrant workers: What happened with migrants who came to Spain to work? International Journal of Public Health, 58 (4), 627–631. Agyei, B., Nicolaou, M., Boateng, L., Dijkshoorn, H., Van Den Born, B. J., & Agyemang, C. (2014). Relationship between psychosocial stress and hypertension among Ghanaians in Amsterdam, the Netherlands – The GHAIA study. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1–10. https://doi. org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-692 Alderet, E., Vega, W., Kolody, B., & Aguilar-Gaxiola, S. (2000). Lifetime prevalence of and risk factors for psychiatric disorders among Mexican migrant farmworkers in California. American Journal of Public Health, 90(4), 608–614. Al-Maskari, F., Shah, S. M., Al-Sharhan, R., Al-Haj, E., Al-Kaabi, K., Khonji, D., et al. (2011). Prevalence of depression and suicidal behaviors among male migrant workers in United Arab Emirates. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 13(6), 1027–1032. 1007/s10903-011-9470-9 Alvarado, L. E., & Bretones, F. D. (2018a). Concepciones teórico-metodológicas sobre el enfoque integral de la salud y seguridad y sus categorías fundamentales. In O. Orozco, N. Castillo, & J. Román (Eds.), Seguridad integral en el trabajo: Un enfoque psicosocial (pp. 77–88). Cali: Editorial Bonaventuriana. Alvarado, L. E., & Bretones, F. D. (2018b). New working conditions and well-being of elementary teachers in Ecuador. Teaching and Teacher Education, 69, 234–242. tate.2017.10.015 Alvarez, J. C. (2015). Lean design for six sigma: An integrated approach to achieving product reliability and low-cost manufacturing. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 32(8), 895–905. Andersson, L. M. C., Hjern, A., & Ascher, H. (2018). Undocumented adult migrants in Sweden: Mental health and associated factors. BMC Public Health, 18, 1–9. s12889-018-6294-8 Anjara, S. G., Nellums, L. B., Bonetto, C., & Van Bortel, T. (2017). Stress, health and quality of life of female migrant domestic workers in Singapore: A cross-sectional study. BMC Women’s Health, 17(1), 1–13. Aryee, S., Sun, L. Y., Chen, Z. X. G., & Debrah, Y. A. (2008). Abusive supervision and contextual performance: The mediating role of emotional exhaustion and the moderating role of work unit structure. Management and Organization Review, 4(3), 393–411. 1740-8784.2008.00118.x Baey, G., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2018). “The lottery of my life”: Migration trajectories and the production of precarity among Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore’s construction industry. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 27(3), 249–272. 0117196818780087 Betancourt, T. S., Shaahinfar, A., Kellner, S. E., Dhavan, N., & Williams, T. P. (2013). A qualitative case study of child protection issues in the Indian construction industry: Investigating the security, health, and interrelated rights of migrant families. BMC Public Health, 13(1). Bosmans, K., Mousaid, S., De Cuyper, N., Hardonk, S., Louckx, F., & Vanroelen, C. (2016). Dirty work, dirty worker? Stigmatisation and coping strategies among domestic workers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 92, 54–67. Bottura, B., & Mancini, T. (2016). Psychosocial dynamics affecting health and social care of forced migrants: A narrative review. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 12 (2), 109–119.


L. E. Alvarado

Boulanger, G. (2015). Seeing double, being double: Longing, belonging, recognition, and evasion in psychodynamic work with immigrants. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(3), 287–303. Bulut, E., & Gayman, M. D. (2016). Acculturation and self-rated mental health among Latino and Asian immigrants in the United States: A latent class analysis. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 18(4), 836–849. Burr, H., Hasselhorn, H. M., Kersten, N., Pohrt, A., & Rugulies, R. (2017). Does age modify the association between psychosocial factors at work and deterioration of self-rated health? Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 43(5), 465–474. sjweh.3648 Carpenter-Song, E., Chu, E., Drake, R. E., Ritsema, M., Smith, B., & Alverson, H. (2010). Ethnocultural variations in the experience and meaning of mental illness and treatment: Implications for access and utilization. Transcultural Psychiatry, 47(2), 224–251. 1363461510368906 Castañeda, H. (2013). Structural vulnerability and access to medical care among migrant streetbased male sex workers in Germany. Social Science and Medicine, 84, 94–101. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.02.010 Dantas, S. D. (2011). An intercultural psychodynamic counselling model: A preventive work proposition for plural societies. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 24(1), 1–14. https://doi. org/10.1080/09515070.2010.529653 Del Amo, J., Jarrín, I., García-Fulgueiras, A., Ibánez-Rojo, V., Alvarez, D., Rodríguez-Arenas, M. Á., et al. (2011). Mental health in Ecuadorian migrants from a population-based survey: The importance of social determinants and gender roles. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46(11), 1143–1152. Derr, A. S. (2016). Mental health service use among immigrants in the United States: A systematic review. Psychiatric Services, 67(3), 235–274. Di Fabio, A. (2017). Positive healthy organizations: Promoting well-being, meaningfulness, and sustainability in organizations. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1–6. 2017.01938 Diaz, E., Ortiz-Barreda, G., Ben-Shlomo, Y., Holdsworth, M., Salami, B., Rammohan, A., et al. (2017). Interventions to improve immigrant health. A scoping review. European Journal of Public Health, 27(3), 433–439. Doki, S., Sasahara, S., & Matsuzaki, I. (2018). Stress of working abroad: A systematic review. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 91(7), 767–784. https://doi. org/10.1007/s00420-018-1333-4 Dollard, M., Winefield, H., Winefield, A., & de Jonge, J. (2000). Psychosocial job strain and productivity in human service workers: A test of the demand–control–support model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73(1), 501–510. 000371523 Drbohlav, D., & Dzúrová, D. (2017). Social hazards as manifested workplace discrimination and health (Vietnamese and Ukrainian female and male migrants in Czechia). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(10), 1–16. ijerph14101207 Fan, W., & Qian, Y. (2017). Native-immigrant occupational segregation and worker health in the United States, 2004–2014. Social Science and Medicine, 183, 130–141. j.socscimed.2017.04.029 Fine, J. (2005). Community unions and the revival of the American labor movement. Politics and Society, 33, 153–199. Gheorghiu, E., & Stephens, C. S. (2016). Working with “the others”: Immigrant academics’ acculturation strategies as determinants of perceptions of conflict at work. Social Science Journal, 53(4), 521–533. González-González, J. M., Bretones, F. D., Zarco, V., & Rodríguez, A. (2011). Women, immigration and entrepreneurship in Spain: A confluence of debates in the face of a complex reality.

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


Women’s Studies International Forum, 34(5), 360–370. 007 Green, O., & Ayalon, L. (2017). The contribution of working conditions and care recipient characteristics to work-related abuse and exploitation of migrant home care workers. Employee Relations, 39(7), 1001–1014. Griffin, J., & Soskolne, V. (2003). Psychological distress among Thai migrant workers in Israel. Social Science and Medicine, 57(5), 769–774. Grzywacz, J. G., Alterman, T., Muntaner, C., Shen, R., Li, J., Gabbard, S., et al. (2010). Mental health research with Latino farmworkers: A systematic evaluation of the short CES-D. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 12(5), 652–658. Guldenmund, F., Cleal, B., & Mearns, K. (2013). An exploratory study of migrant workers and safety in three European countries. Safety Science, 52, 92–99. 2012.05.004 Hickling, F. W., & Paisley, V. (2012). Issues of clinical and cultural competence in Caribbean migrants. Transcultural Psychiatry, 49(2), 223–244. 1363461512441596 Hiott, A. E., Grzywacz, J. G., Davis, S. W., Quandt, S. A., & Arcury, T. A. (2008). Migrant farmworker stress: Mental health implications. Journal of Rural Health, 24(1), 32–39. https:// Hovey, J. D., & Magaña, C. (2000). Acculturative stress, anxiety, and depression among Mexican immigrant farmworkers in the Midwest United States. Journal of Immigrant Health, 2(3), 119–131. Hsieh, Y. C., Apostolopoulos, Y., Hatzudis, K., & Sönmez, S. (2016). Social, occupational, and spatial exposures and mental health disparities of working-class Latinas in the US. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 18(3), 589–599. Hsieh, Y. C., Apostolopoulos, Y., & Sönmez, S. (2016). Work conditions and health and Wellbeing of Latina hotel housekeepers. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 18(3), 568–581. Huang, W., Operario, D., Dong, Y., Zaller, N., Song, D., He, H., et al. (2014). HIV-related risk among female migrants working in entertainment venues in China. Prevention Science, 15(3), 329–339. Hviid, K., Smith, L. H., Frydendall, K. B., & Flyvholm, M. A. (2013). Visibility and social recognition as psychosocial work environment factors among cleaners in a multi-ethnic workplace intervention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(1), 85–106. Jasinskaja-Lahti, I., Liebkind, K., Jaakkola, M., & Reuter, A. (2006). Perceived discrimination, social support networks, and psychological well-being among three immigrant groups. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 37(3), 293–311. Jibeen, T. (2011). Moderators of acculturative stress in Pakistani immigrants: The role of personal and social resources. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(5), 523–533. https:// Johannessen, H. A., Gravseth, H. M., & Sterud, T. (2015). Psychosocial factors at work and occupational injuries: A prospective study of the general working population in Norway. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 58(5), 561–567. Johnson, C. M., Rostila, M., Svensson, A. C., & Engström, K. (2017). The role of social capital in explaining mental health inequalities between immigrants and Swedish-born: A populationbased cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 17(1), 1–15. Kalleberg, A. L. (2009). Precarious work, insecure workers: Employment relations in transition. American Sociological Review, 74, 1–22. Kfir, N., & Kemp, A. (2016). Struggling between routine and emergency: The legalization of migrants and human rights activism in Israel. Critical Sociology, 42(6), 877–896. https://doi. org/10.1177/0896920515584168


L. E. Alvarado

Kotwal, A. A. (2010). Physical and psychological health of first and second generation Turkish immigrants in Germany. American Journal of Human Biology, 22(4), 538–545. 10.1002/ajhb.21044 Koukoulaki, T. (2010). New trends in work environment – New effects on safety. Safety Science, 48 (8), 936–942. Ladegaard, H. J. (2015). Coping with trauma in domestic migrant worker narratives: Linguistic, emotional and psychological perspectives. Journal of SocioLinguistics, 19(2), 189–221. https:// Ladin, K., & Reinhold, S. (2013). Mental health of aging immigrants and native-born men across 11 european countries. Journals of Gerontology – Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 68(2), 298–309. Lai, M. Y. (2010). Dancing to different tunes: Performance and activism among migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. Women’s Studies International Forum, 33(5), 501–511. 10.1016/j.wsif.2010.07.003 Lai, D. W. L., Li, L., & Daoust, G. D. (2017). Factors influencing suicide behaviours in immigrant and ethno-cultural minority groups: A systematic review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 19(3), 755–768. Leka, S., Jain, A., Widerszal-Bazyl, M., Zołnierczyk-Zreda, D., & Zwetsloot, G. (2011). Developing a standard for psychosocial risk management: PAS 1010. Safety Science, 49(7), 1047–1057. Lindert, J., Ehrenstein, O. S., Priebe, S., Mielck, A., & Brähler, E. (2009). Depression and anxiety in labor migrants and refugees – A systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 69(2), 246–257. Liu, Y., Song, H., Wang, T., Wang, T., Yang, H., Gong, J., et al. (2015). Determinants of tobacco smoking among rural-to-urban migrant workers: A cross-sectional survey in Shanghai. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1–10. Loh, M. I., & Klug, J. (2012). Voices of migrant women: The mediating role of resilience on the relationship between acculturation and psychological distress. Edith Cowan University Research Online, 24(2), 59–78. Lunner Kolstrup, C., Kallioniemi, M., Lundqvist, P., Kymäläinen, H. R., Stallones, L., & Brumby, S. (2013). International perspectives on psychosocial working conditions, mental health, and stress of dairy farm operators. Journal of Agromedicine, 18(3), 244–255. 1080/1059924X.2013.796903 Luo, M., Jiang, X., Wang, Y., Wang, Z., Shen, Q., Li, R., et al. (2018). Association between induced abortion and suicidal ideation among unmarried female migrant workers in three metropolitan cities in China: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 1–12. Marler, J. H., & Liang, X. (2012). Information technology change, work complexity and service jobs: A contingent perspective. New Technology, Work and Employment, 27(2), 133–146. Maury, C., Abbal, T., & Moro, M. R. (2016). Clinique du psychotraumatisme et erreur de diagnostic en situation transculturelle. Annales Medico-Psychologiques, 174(4), 266–273. Meuleman, B., Davidov, E., & Billiet, J. (2009). Changing attitudes toward immigration in Europe, 2002-2007: A dynamic group conflict theory approach. Social Science Research, 38(2), 352–365. Meyer, S. R., Decker, M. R., Tol, W. A., Abshir, N., Mar, A. A., & Robinson, W. C. (2016). Workplace and security stressors and mental health among migrant workers on the Thailand– Myanmar border. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(5), 713–723. https://doi. org/10.1007/s00127-015-1162-7 Mora, D. C., Grzywacz, J. G., Anderson, A. M., Chen, H., Arcury, T. A., Marín, A. J., et al. (2014). Social isolation among Latino workers in rural North Carolina: Exposure and health

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


implications. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health/Center for Minority Public Health, 16 (5), 822–830. Na, S., Ryder, A. G., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2016). Toward a culturally responsive model of mental health literacy: Facilitating help-seeking among east Asian immigrants to North America. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58, 211–225. Nadim, W., AlOtaibi, A., Al-Mohaimeed, A., Ewid, M., Sarhandi, M., Saquib, J., et al. (2016). Depression among migrant workers in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 206, 103–108. Negi, N. J. (2011). Identifying psychosocial stressors of well-being and factors related to substance use among Latino day laborers. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 13(4), 748–755. Noor, N. M., & Shaker, M. N. (2017). Perceived workplace discrimination, coping and psychological distress among unskilled Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 57, 19–29. O’Connor, K., Stoecklin-Marois, M., & Schenker, M. B. (2013). Examining nervios among immigrant male farmworkers in the MICASA study: Sociodemographics, housing conditions and psychosocial factors. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17(1), 198–207. https:// O’Hara, M., & Akinsulure-Smith, A. M. (2011). Working with interpreters: Tools for clinicians conducting psychotherapy with forced immigrants. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 7(1), 33–43. Ollus, N. (2016). Forced flexibility and exploitation: Experiences of migrant Workers in the Cleaning Industry. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 6(1), 25. njwls.v6i1.4908 Organista, K. C., Arreola, S. G., & Neilands, T. B. (2016). La desesperación in Latino migrant day laborers and its role in alcohol and substance-related sexual risk. SSM – Population Health, 2, 32–42. Palazzeschi, L., Bucci, O., & Di Fabio, A. (2018). High entrepreneurship, leadership, and professionalism (HELP): A new resource for workers in the 21st century. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–8. Panikkar, B., Woodin, M. A., Brugge, D., Desmarais, A. M., Hyatt, R., Goldman, R., et al. (2012). Occupational health and safety experiences among self-identified immigrant workers living or working in Somerville, MA by ethnicity, years in the US, and english proficiency. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9(12), 4452–4469. 3390/ijerph9124452 Perez-Carceles, M. D., Medina, M. D., Perez-Flores, D., Noguera, J. A., Pereniguez, J. E., Madrigal, M., et al. (2014). Screening for hazardous drinking in migrant workers in southeastern Spain. Journal of Occupational Health, 56(1), 39–48. Perreault, M., Touré, E. H., Perreault, N., & Caron, J. (2017). Employment status and mental health: Mediating roles of social support and coping strategies. Psychiatric Quarterly, 88(3), 501–514. Petrarca, F., & Terzi, S. (2018). The global competitiveness index: An alternative measure with endogenously derived weights. Quality and Quantity, 52(5), 2197–2219. 1007/s11135-017-0655-8 Pocreau, J., & Martins-Borges, L. (2013). La cothérapie en psychologie clinique interculturelle. Santé Mentale Au Québec, 38(1), 227–242. Porthé, V., Ahonen, E., Vázquez, M. L., Pope, C., Agudelo, A. A., García, A. M., et al. (2010). Extending a model of precarious employment: A qualitative study of immigrant workers in Spain. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 417–424. 20781 Purwohandoko, M., & Salsabil, I. (2017). Human capital in islamic bank and its effect on the improvement of healthy organization and employee performance. International Journal for Quality Research, 11(4), 849–868.


L. E. Alvarado

Ramos, A. K., Su, D., Lander, L., & Rivera, R. (2015). Stress factors contributing to depression among Latino migrant farmworkers in Nebraska. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17 (6), 1627–1634. Ronda Pérez, E., Benavides, F. G., Levecque, K., Love, J. G., Felt, E., & Van Rossem, R. (2012). Differences in working conditions and employment arrangements among migrant and non-migrant workers in Europe. Ethnicity and Health, 17(6), 563–577. 1080/13557858.2012.730606 Sanders, T. (2004). A continuum of risk? The management of health, physical and emotional risks by female sex workers. Sociology of Health & Illness, 26(5), 557–574. Shishehgar, S., Gholizadeh, L., DiGiacomo, M., & Davidson, P. M. (2015). The impact of migration on the health status of Iranians: An integrative literature review. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 15(1), 1–11. Sue, D. W. (2001). Multidimensional facets of cultural competence. The Counseling Psychologist, 29(6), 790–821. Sweeney, L. A., & FitzGerald, S. (2017). A case for a health promotion framework: The psychosocial experiences of female, migrant sex workers in Ireland. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 13(4), 419–431. Tappura, S., Nenonen, N., & Kivistö-Rahnasto, J. (2017). Managers’ viewpoint on factors influencing their commitment to safety: An empirical investigation in five Finnish industrial organisations. Safety Science, 96, 52–61. Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Negi, N. J., & Kaplan, C. (2010). Fumando La Piedra: Emerging patterns of crack use among Latino immigrant day laborers in New Orleans. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 12(5), 737–742. Van Der Ham, A. J., Ujano-Batangan, M. T., Ignacio, R., & Wolffers, I. (2014). Toward healthy migration: An exploratory study on the resilience of migrant domestic workers from the Philippines. Transcultural Psychiatry, 51(4), 545–568. 1363461514539028 van der Klauw, M., Hengel, K. O., Roozeboom, M. B., Koppes, L. L., & Venema, A. (2016). Occupational accidents in the Netherlands: Incidence, mental harm, and their relationship with psychosocial factors at work. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 23 (1), 79–84. Vega, W., Warheit, G., & Palacio, R. (1985). Psychiatric symptomatology among Mexican American farmworkers. Social Science and Medicine, 20(1), 39–45. 0277-9536(85)90309-0 Verhagen, I., Ros, W. J., Steunenberg, B., & de Wit, N. J. (2014). Culturally sensitive care for elderly immigrants! Design and development of a community based intervention programme in the Netherlands. Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie, 45(2), 82–91. 1007/s12439-014-0068-2 Weishaar, H. B. (2008). Consequences of international migration: A qualitative study on stress among polish migrant workers in Scotland. Public Health, 122(11), 1250–1256. 10.1016/j.puhe.2008.03.016 Wong, D. F. K., & Leung, G. (2008). The functions of social support in the mental health of male and female migrant workers in China. Health and Social Work, 33(4), 275–285. 10.1093/hsw/33.4.275 Zhong, B. L., Liu, T. B., Huang, J. X., Fung, H. H., Chan, S. S. M., Conwell, Y., et al. (2016). Acculturative stress of Chinese rural-to-urban migrant workers: A qualitative study. PLoS One, 11(6), 1–16.

6 Migrant Work and Its Implications for Psychosocial and Mental Health


Luis E. Alvarado is psychologist and Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Guayaquil, of which he is also the Dean nowadays. He holds his Master’s diploma in Clinical Psychology at the University of Havana (Cuba), in Occupational Psychology at the University of Guayaquil and in Human Rights (University of Guayaquil). Since 2014, he is also the Ecuador Group Coordinator of the Ibero-American Network for the Promotion of Comprehensive Occupational Safety. From 1991 to 2013, he worked in the field of mental health at the Department of Psychiatry of the Regional Hospital of the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) “Teodoro Maldonado Carbo”. He has also been General Director of the Trade Union of the Regional Directorate of the IESS (1987–1991), and Legal Defense Director of the Ecuadorian Confederation of Free Trade Unions (1991–1992). His research and publications are focused on psychosocial risks and mental health at work.

Chapter 7

Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects José A. Camacho-Ballesta, Bárbara Montero, and Mercedes Rodríguez



Migration is, on most occasions, directly or indirectly linked to the search for decent work opportunities. Even in those cases in which employment is not the main driver behind the initial decision to move it usually appears at some point in the migration process (International Labour Organization, 2017). Labour migration is a global phenomenon affecting most countries in the world and is driven by two main forces: on the one hand, the fact that a substantial part of the working-age population cannot find a job (or cannot find a suitable job) in their countries of origin to support themselves and their families, and, on the other, the existence of countries in which there is a growing shortage of workers in different sectors. This situation is influenced by factors such as demographic changes, socioeconomic and political crises and an increasing disparity in salaries between developed and developing countries and even between different regions of the same country. As a result, a continuous movement of people between regions and countries in search of work emerges, which is called labour migration. These movements of people have important effects on both origin and destination countries. In this chapter, we focus on labour migration in the European Union (EU), and more concretely on labour migration in its five major migrant destination countries. This analysis is more than justified as over one million migrants come to the EU every year. In addition, the enlargement of the EU has had a dramatic effect on the dynamics of the labour force in its Member States and, at the same time, population ageing caused by the decline in fertility rates and the increase in longevity makes migration more necessary than ever. The structure of the chapter is as follows. First,

J. A. Camacho-Ballesta (*) · B. Montero · M. Rodríguez Institute of Regional Development, University of Granada, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

we present a theoretical perspective on the labour migration phenomenon in which we describe the evolution of this concept, its classification and the main theoretical approaches developed to explain it. Second, we enter into the empirical analysis of labour migration in the EU as a whole. Both the evolution of the migrant workingage population over the period 1995–2017 and its components (labour force and employment) are examined. We also analyse the evolution of the participation of migrants in the labour market differentiating by origin (from EU countries or non-EU countries) and by gender. Once analysed the phenomenon from an overall perspective, we then carry out a detailed study of the migrant employment by origin and gender in the five European countries that account for three-quarters of the migrant working age population in the EU, namely, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Finally, the main conclusions reached are summarized.


Theoretical Perspectives on Labour Migration

Migration is an issue that has been studied from a broad range of disciplines and contexts. Labour migration first appeared during the Industrial Revolution and today has become a central issue for most societies and a priority for governments and international organizations all over the world. Migratory movements have attracted the interest of scholars from very different fields. In this section, we provide a general overview of the definition of the labour migration phenomenon and a brief description of the main theoretical efforts carried out to explain it.


Conceptualization and Classification of Labour Migration

In most studies of migration, scholars try to offer an appropriate definition of this phenomenon. The result is that the word “migration” has a wide range of different meanings. In general terms, migration can be considered a change of residence that involves moving a significant distance away from one’s previous home on a relatively permanent basis or at least with some intention of permanence (Micolta León, 2005). Some researchers have widened this definition by adding different aspects to this conceptualization. For instance, Grinberg and Grinberg point out that the term migration “has been used strictly to define the geographical mobility of persons who move, either individually, in small groups, or in large masses, and remain for a sufficiently long time to imply the need to be in another place and there carry out the activities of daily living” (Grinberg & Grinberg, 1984, p. 17). Oso (1997) focuses on the role played by administrative demarcations, pointing out that migration involves crossing administrative geographical divisions, either within a country (regions, provinces, towns) or from one country to another. Giménez

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


Romero (2003) adds the satisfaction of needs as a purpose that encourages people to change their place of residence. Blanco (2000) considers migration as a process that covers three sub-processes: emigration, immigration and returning home. She argues that there are ambiguities when it comes to defining the distance between the places the migrants leave from and the places they come to, and the time spent in the destination country. In order to get a more accurate picture of the population shifts that should be classified as migrations she introduces three complementary dimensions: spatial (the movement has to take place between two geographic entities), time (the movement has to be long-lasting rather than sporadic) and social (the movement as to involve a significant change in the migrants environment, both physical and social). In this way, migrations are considered to be movements involving a relatively long-lasting change in the political-administrative, social and/or cultural environment of the migrants, or any permanent change of residence that involves interrupting activities in one place and reorganizing them somewhere else. In contrast, travel for tourism purposes and business or study trips are not regarded as migration due to their transitory nature and because they do not imply a reorganization of one’s own life. Changes in residence within the same town are not included either, as they do not involve a change in the political or administrative environment or an interruption of previous activities. When we use the word “migration” we normally refer to a geographical movement of people. However, migration does not come to an end when the migrant arrives at the destination country. It is a much more complex process that encompasses a variety of sub processes and affects different individuals and collectives. Migration has been a constant feature of human history, in which periods of calm have alternated with those of intense movement. The start, duration, and intensity of the movements of populations vary from one period to another in line with the prevailing circumstances (Arellano Millán, 2005). Migratory movements have had different causes (hunger, wars, natural catastrophes, ecological disasters, etc.) and have exerted important social and economic impacts in both origin and destination countries. The most common reasons for migration are those of an economic nature related to work and survival. One of the distinguishing features of economic and labour-related migration is its direct relationship with the production process and the labour market. Labour migration is materialized in economically-motivated, geographical movements of workers. Although there is no internationally accepted definition of labour migration, the definition of migrant workers used for statistical purposes is as follows: “persons admitted by a country other than their own for the explicit purpose of exercising an economic activity remunerated from within the receiving country. Some countries distinguish several categories of migrant workers, including (i) seasonal migrant workers; (ii) contract workers; (iii) project-tied workers; and (iv) temporary migrant workers” (United Nations, 1998, p. 33). Going deeper, Aparicio Gómez, García Borrego, and García Domínguez (1998) highlight that migrant workers are those that move to a country (or place) that is different from their place of origin, with some degree of intention that this move will be permanent, who live on their work as employed or self-employed and find


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

Table 7.1 Criteria for the classification of labour migration Types of labour migration


Professional needs and demands


Degree of freedom Geographic limit Who takes the decision


Seasonal Repeated temporary Several years Indefinite Looking for stable professional status Requirement of the job Career development Children Adults Elderly people Voluntary Forced Internal External or international Spontaneous Led Forced Environmental Political Economic

employment in the lowest echelons of the labour market. Their families who move with them are also considered as migrants. Recent studies on labour migration focus on what are the root causes and determinants in explaining people’s decision to migrate (Van Hear, Bakewell, & Long, 2018). A summary of the main criteria that can be employed for the classification of labour migration are summarized in Table 7.1.1


Labour Migration Theories

A review of the extant literature reveals that despite models, analytical approaches, conceptual frameworks, and empirical analyses that have been developed, rather than following a sequential approach, theories about migration form a string of models (Arango, 2017; Bodvarsson & Van den Berg, 2013). There are two pioneering works that have guided theoretical developments in the study of migration: the studies conducted by the geographer Ernest Ravenstein at the end of the nineteenth century and the book published in 1918 by William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki entitled “The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918–1920)”. The 1

For an extensive review of the different types of migration see Micolta León (2005).

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


former focuses on the material dimensions of migration and examines shifts in population from a sociodemographic and economic (macro and micro) perspective. On the basis of an analysis of the population census (initially in England and later extended to the population of 20 other countries), Ravenstein established various migration laws. These laws were defined as a series of general empirical propositions that describe the migratory relations via the observation of some regular events in the migratory processes. According to Ravenstein (1885), the main cause of migration was economic inequality between origin and destination countries. Migration was driven by disparities in income levels and in employment levels, as well as by an uneven territorial distribution of the labour force. Ravenstein introduced the “push and pull” analytical framework, which argues that the decision to migrate may be taken in response to factors at work in the place of residence or origin, or in the destination country, or a combination of the two. Ravenstein’s laws of migration are the first example of modern social and scientific thinking on migration and are the basis for many subsequent theoretical developments (Massey et al., 1998). In contrast, the second work by Thomas and Znaniecki (1918) centres on the psychosocial implications of the migration phenomenon, a question which is studied by analysing both cultural and psycho-sociological factors. After the publication of the two pioneering works mentioned above, different theoretical models were developed (Arango, 2017). These models can be classified into five main groups: the neoclassical theory and the push-pull model, the hypothesis of the mobility transition, the historical-structural models, the systems approach and migration networks and the new economics of labour migration. The neoclassical theory appeared in the second half of the twentieth century and, as the oldest and most influential of all migration theories, has played a key role in migration studies. From a macroeconomic perspective, it establishes that migrations occur as a result of the unequal spatial distribution of capital and labour. In some countries or regions, labour is relatively scarce compared to capital and receives higher salaries while in other countries the opposite pertains. The result is that workers tend to migrate from countries or regions where there labour supply is high but salaries are low to countries where labour is relatively scarce and salaries are higher, thereby contributing to the redistribution of production factors and, in the long term, to bridging the salary gap among countries. In brief, this theory states that the root cause of migration lies in the disparity between salary levels among countries, which is in turn reflected in differences in income and welfare levels. The positive aspect is that over time, migration would progressively eliminate these differences in salaries and tend to disappear. This theory also works at the microeconomic level (Massey et al., 1998). Migrations are the result of individual decisions taken by rational agents who want to increase their quality of life by moving to places where they might receive increased compensation for their work. This additional compensation has to be high enough to offset the tangible and intangible costs of moving. Migration is, therefore, a spontaneous, voluntary, individual action based on the comparison between the migrant’s current situation and the potential net gain to obtain (calculated by subtracting the expected costs from the expected benefits). This suggests that once migrants have taken into consideration all possible


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

choices, they will tend to head to places where they expect to obtain the highest net gain. As migration involves costs in hope of obtaining higher returns, it can be considered as a form of investment in human capital (Bauer & Zimmermann, 1998; Sjaastad, 1962). The application of the neoclassical theory led to the emergence of the push-pull model of migration (Lee, 1966). This model is based on a series of factors associated with both the migrants’ place of origin and destination. It states that there are a series of factors that push migrants to leave their country of origin in favour of more advantageous conditions. These attractive conditions exert a pull effect on the migrant. The push factors include increased demographic pressure, no access to land, low salaries, poor quality of life, a lack of political freedom, repression, etc. The pull factors attracting migrants to their potential destination would be their opposites. In addition, migrants make a substantial investment in the cost of the trip and maintaining their livelihood in the destination country while they look for work abroad. There are also efforts related to learning the language, adapting to the new labour market and overcoming emotional pain. The mobility transition hypothesis was developed by Wilbur Zelinsky in 1971 with the aim of applying the principle of the spatial diffusion of innovations to the push-pull model of migration. According to Zelinsky, “there are definite, patterned regularities in the growth of personal mobility through space-time during recent history, and these regularities comprise an essential component of the modernization process” (Zelinsky, 1971, pp. 221–222). In particular, five phases are distinguished. Phase I corresponds to the Premodern Traditional Society where there is little genuine residential migration. Phase II refers to the Early Transitional Society, where a massive movement from the countryside to cities takes place. Phase III corresponds to the Late Transitional Society, where emigration declines or even ceases. In Phase IV, the Advanced Society, residential mobility oscillates at a high level and there is a vigorous movement of migrants from city to city and significant international migration. Finally, in Phase V, a Future Super advanced Society a strict political control of both internal and international movement would be imposed. In the 1960s and 1970s, the predominance of neoclassical thought was questioned by historical-structural models inspired by the Marxist theories like the dual-labour markets theory, the dependency theory and world systems theory. The dual labour markets theory introduced by Piore (1979) maintains that migration is the result of a permanent demand for labour in advanced industrial societies that is driven by pull factors. This demand is originated by certain intrinsic characteristics of these societies and creates segmentation in labour markets. For various reasons, most developed economies need foreign workers to do those jobs that local workers prefer to avoid and that women or children are no longer prepared to do if they ever did them. This creates a dual labour market of secure, well-paid jobs for national workers and insecure, low-skilled, low-wage jobs for migrant workers. The dual labour market weakens the working class by dividing it into two substrata: national and migrant workers. The demand-driven nature of migration pointed out by Piore (1979) paved the way for the development of dependency theory. This theory claims that capitalism gives rise to a new international order made up of a central core of industrialized

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


nations and a periphery of agricultural countries linked by imbalanced, asymmetrical relations. The advances in the former are dependent on the exploitation of the latter. Migration is therefore regarded as a class issue, resulting from the uneven development of central and peripheral economies. In other words, under-development is a by-product of development and is regarded as a self-perpetuating process (Petras, 1981). Rather than being two stages in a linear, predestined process, underdevelopment and development are two opposing extremes in a relationship based on inequality and subordination. Within this framework, migrations are viewed as flows of a key factor, that of labour, from dependent countries and regions, to central, dominant countries and regions. This means that only certain countries are origins of migration flows and that migrants do not settle just anywhere. The worldsystems theory suggests that highly developed economies will inevitably require foreign workers to do poorly paid jobs in certain sectors. However, this explanation of migration does not focus so much on the demand for this type of worker, but rather, on the imbalances created by the penetration of capitalism in less developed countries. The basis for this theory was developed in the mid-1970s by the historian and sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, who described a world system dominated by Europe that began to take shape in the sixteenth century and was composed of three concentric spheres: a core, a periphery, and a semi-periphery (Wallerstein, 1974). Although the world-systems theory and dependence theory have many differential aspects, they share the view that migration is a by-product of the domination of core countries over peripheral ones within a structure of class conflict. In a similar way to neoclassical theory, world-systems theory argues that migration is the result of structural inequalities, although migration reinforces inequalities instead of reducing them, as suggested by neoclassical. The concept of migration networks has been extensively used to explain the migration phenomenon. In the systems approach, these networks are defined as the set of interpersonal relations that link migrants, returned migrants and candidates for migration with their relatives, friends or compatriots in their country of origin or destination (Arango, 2017). These networks pass on information, provide economic support or accommodation and offer aid to migrants in different ways. These networks make migration easier by reducing associated costs and uncertainty. Networks can also induce people to migrate via a “demonstration effect”. A seminal contribution to this debate was made by Akin Mabogunje (1970) in his study of rural-urban migration in Africa, in which he repeatedly proposed systems analysis as a fruitful and comprehensive framework for the study of migration. Migration systems are spaces or fields defined by a relatively stable association of a series of host countries with a certain number of countries of origin. These associations are produced by migratory traffic and strengthened by a wide range of links and connections. These links, together with the multiple interactions among them, provide a suitable context in which to study migration. A framework of this type should be capable of integrating the contributions made by other theoretical arguments together with the important agents in the migration process, namely, networks and intermediary institutions, and other dimensions which traditionally overlap with migration, such as the State (Kritz, Lim, & Zlotnik, 1992).


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, new theoretical approaches emerge in response to the growth of migratory processes. One of these theories is the new economics of labour migration (Stark, 1991; Stark & Taylor, 1991). According to this theory, migration is a household strategy aimed at diversifying the sources of income (rather than maximizing them) with the objective of reducing risks (unemployment or loss of income) and eliminating bottlenecks, given the frequent imperfections of credit and insurance markets in the countries of origin. This theory implies that the more unequal the distribution of income in a given household, the more strongly one feels its relative deprivation, which in turn enhances the incentive to migrate. Unlike the neoclassical approach, the new economics of labour migration considers migration to be sensitive to income distribution. Among the most recent works on migration we highlight those of Castles, de Hass, and Miller (2014) or Faist, Fauser, and Reisenauer (2013). In these works, special attention is paid to the rising phenomenon of transnational migration, along with its consideration as a wider phenomenon that are part and parcel of national and global changes.


Labour Migration in the European Union

Upon reviewing the evolution of the theories on labour migration, there can be no doubt that an analysis of migration is crucial if we want to acquire in-depth knowledge of the socioeconomic situation of a country. It is particularly important to assess the role of migrants in the labour market, and measure it well. In this chapter, we employ data from the European Labour Force Survey (LFS) provided by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat). The LFS is a household survey conducted in the 28 Member States, 4 candidate countries and 3 countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It provides data on labour participation aged 15 and over, as well as individuals outside the labour force. The population is divided into those below and above the working age, that is, those individuals aged 15 and older). The working-age population is divided into two groups: those in the labour force and those not in the labour force. The labour force comprises those who are employed and those who are unemployed, while the remainder of the working-age population is outside the labour force. Employed people are those of working age who are engaged in any activity to produce goods or provide services for pay or profit. In this section, we examine the evolution of the role played by migrants in the EU labour market over the period 1995–2017 in terms of working-age population, labour force and employment. Migrant activity rate and migrant employment rates are also reported. As can be observed in Fig. 7.1, the flow of working-age migrants to the EU have steadily increased, with the exception of 2010, where there was a slight fall in the number of working-age migrants. As a result, the total number of working-age migrants in the EU almost tripled over the period analysed (from 10,572 thousand people in 1995 to 29,858 thousand people in 2017). This trend continues to 2017, where a total of 4.4 million people migrated to the EU. Most of these migrants were

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


Fig. 7.1 Evolution of the migrant working age population, labour force and employment in the EU and of the migrant activity rate and employment rate, 1995–2017

younger people. The median age stood at 28.3 years while it was 43.1 years for the total population of the EU. As can be expected, trends for the migrant labour force and migrant employment were also increasing. Thus, the total number of migrants in the labour force increased from 6903 thousand in 1995 to 21,505 thousand in 2017, and the number of employed migrants raised from 5784 thousand in 1995, to 18,876 thousand in 2017. Turning to the main labour market indicators (activity rate and employment rate), it is worth noting that, despite activity rates for the migrant population being quite close to the EU average, there are important differences in terms of employment rates. Thus, while the migrant activity rate has remained stable at 72% since 2008, in 2017, the employment rate was 5 percentage points lower than the EU average (63% compared to 68%), suggesting possible disadvantages in the labour market, in addition to a sharp fall in employment after the 2008 global crisis. In order to obtain a more accurate picture of the evolution of the participation of migrants in the EU labour market, in Fig. 7.2 we report their participation in the labour force and in employment. As shown in Fig. 7.2, the participation of migrants in the labour market in terms of the labour force and in employment has steadily increased from the mid-1990s. Thus, the share of migrants in the EU labour force increased from 4.2% in 1995 to 8.8% in 2017. The rise in participation in employment was similar from 3.9% in 1995 to 8.3% in 2017. The participation of migrants in the labour force and in employment varies according to different factors. In order to better understand the role of migrants in the European Union labour market, it is necessary to take into consideration differences in terms of country of origin and gender. In Fig. 7.3, we show the evolution of


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

Fig. 7.2 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the labour force and in employment in the EU, 1995–2017

Fig. 7.3 Evolution of the migrant population in the EU labour market according to its origin, 1995–2017

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


Fig. 7.4 Evolution of the migrant population in the EU labour market according to gender, 1995–2017

the total number of working-age migrants in the EU distinguishing between those migrants from other EU countries and those from non-EU countries, as well as their proportion in the total migrant labour force and in total migrant employment. As can be seen, the trends followed by EU and non-EU migrants were different. Thus, the proportion of non-EU migrants in the EU labour market grew steadily over the period from 1995 to 2005, reaching its peak e in 2005. In 2005, 72% of the migrant labour force and 70% of migrant employment was from non-EU countries. Since then, the trend is reversed, and, although the proportion of the total migrant labour force in 2017 was slightly lower for EU migrants (49% compared to 51%), the proportion in employment was higher for EU migrants (52% compared to 48%), thereby confirming increased integration of migrants in the labour market across EU Member States. This rise is mainly explained by the effects of the enlargement of the EU, when ten countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus) joined the EU on 1st May 2004. Regarding the gender distribution of migrants, we can observe a gradual feminization of the migratory flows to the EU. Figure 7.4 shows the evolution of the total number of working-age migrants in the EU by gender, as well as the proportion of women and men in the total migrant labour force and in total migrant employment. The figure shows that since 2007 the number of female working-age migrants is greater than that of male working-age migrants. This gender shift in migration processes is not due to a fall in the number of male migrants but is mainly explained by the fact that the number of working-age migrant women has grown more rapidly in recent years. This growth has translated into a substantial increase in the proportion of female migrants in the European labour market. Thus, over the period 1995–2017, the proportion of migrant women increased from 36% to 44% for total migrant employment, thereby reducing the discrepancy with the proportion of males in the European labour market.



J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

Differences in Labour Migration Among the Top Five Migrant Recipient EU Countries

In analysing the distribution of migrants among the different EU Member States strong differences emerge. Over the period 1995–2017, migration flows were concentrated in five countries: Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. In 2017, Germany accounted for the highest number of migrants (917.1 thousand) followed by the United Kingdom (644.2 thousand), Spain (523.1 thousand), France (370 thousand) and Italy (343.4 thousand). The reasons for migrating to these countries were different. While residence permits were issued for family reasons in Spain or Italy, education was the main driver for the United Kingdom and France. In the case of Germany, other reasons, such as asylum for refugees, and other humanitarian reasons such as unaccompanied minors or victims of trafficking predominated (Migali et al., 2018). Figure 7.5 reports the evolution of the proportion of the top five migrant recipient EU countries in the total migrant working age population. As can be seen, in Germany, France and the United Kingdom migration has been steadily growing over the last few decades. In Spain, however, migration did not become a relevant phenomenon until 2003. In Italy, there was no available data until 2006, but a high number of migrants have since been integrated into the labour market. Together, these five countries hosted more than three-quarters of the migrant working-age population of the EU in 2017. Germany has held the leading position throughout the entire period, accounting for 25% of the total migrant working-age population in the EU in 2017, followed by the United Kingdom (16%), Italy (13%), Spain (12%) and France (10%). The most significant increase was observed for Spain, which accounted for only 2% of the migrant working age population in 1995.

Fig. 7.5 Evolution of the share of migrant working age population in the top five immigrant receiving countries of the EU, 1995–2017

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


In the following subsections, we compare the participation of migrants in the labour markets of these five countries by examining the evolution of migrant workers by origin and gender, both in number and percentage of the total working-age population.



As can be seen in Fig. 7.6, this country hosts a large number of migrant workers from outside the EU in its labour market. In addition, the presence of EU migrant workers has experienced rapid growth since 2005. Both the effects of the EU enlargement and the entering into force of a new Immigration Act can explain this rise. As a result, the number of EU migrant workers has surpassed the number of non-EU migrant workers. For the entire period, a total of 1871 thousand non-EU migrants were working in Germany in 1995, while the number of migrant workers from the EU was 996 thousand. In 2017, this figure almost double, with a total of 2413 thousand migrants from EU countries working in Germany. The efforts of the German government in attracting high-skilled workers continue, and in December 2018, the German government passed a new immigration law that makes it easier to recruit high-skilled workers from outside the EU. In terms of gender, a higher number of male migrants are currently in employment. In 2017, the number of female migrant workers was 1860 thousand, compared to 2768 thousand male migrants. The rate of growth registered by women and men was very similar, 1.6 percentage points for women and 1.7 percentage points for men. Thus, female migrant workers accounted for 3.5% of the German working-age population in 2017, while male migrant workers represented 5.1%. Differences in

Fig. 7.6 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the German labour market by origin and gender, 1995–2007


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

employment rates between female and male migrants in the German labour market continue to persist.



Large scale migration to Spain did not begin until the twenty-first century. In fact, the proportion of migrant workers in the total working-age population was almost negligible in the beginning of the period. Migrant workers represented 0.4% of the working-age population in 1995. The majority of migrants come from outside the EU. The proportion of this group has increased markedly over the years, and has made Spain the main destination for Latin American migration to Europe (Pellegrino, 2004). Particularly noteworthy, are increases in migration from Ecuador and Colombia, and from Bolivia since 2006 (Hierro, 2016). In contrast, migration from the EU has been more modest, particularly in recent years. The number of migrant workers reached its peak in 2008, when more than 2828 thousand migrants were working in the Spanish labour market. Since the negative impact of the economic crisis, the number of migrant workers sharply diminished until 2014. In recent years however, employment rates among migrant workers have gradually improved, and in 2017, migrant workers accounted for 6.8% of the working-age population (Fig. 7.7). In terms of gender, Spain has received a high number of female migrants. One of the main consequences of the 2008 financial crisis was a sharp decline in employment opportunities of male migrants, which resulted a considerable reduction in their participation in the labour market. Their lack of participation in the labour force was partially replaced by women, who in 2017, accounted for 3.2% of the total workingage population, while the proportion of male migrant workers is 3.6%.

Fig. 7.7 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the Spanish labour market by origin and gender, 1995–2007

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects




Like Germany, France has received a large number of migrants from a wide range of countries. Hence, the number of non-EU migrants is higher than those coming from other EU countries. While the proportion of EU migrant workers in the French working-age population remains more or less stable over the period analysed (at 1.5%), the participation of non-EU migrant workers has increased, particularly in the years after the financial crisis of 2008, reaching 2.3% of the French workingage population in 2017 (Fig. 7.8). In terms of gender, the pace of growth of female migrant workers has been considerably higher than that of male migrant workers. While the share of male migrant workers in the total working-age population tended to fluctuate over the period, the proportion of female migrant workers shows an increasing trend. As a result, female migrant workers accounted for 1.7% of the total working-age population in 2017 compared to 1.1% in 1995.


The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has registered a strong growth in migrant workers in its labour market since the EU enlargement. In contrast to Spain, most of these migrants come from other countries within the EU. The number of migrant workers from EU countries multiplied by 6 over the period analysed, from 401 thousand in 1995 to 2328 thousand in 2017. In terms of participation in the total working-age population its share grew from 1.1% in 1995 to 5.6% in 2017. Overall, there are more female than male migrant workers in the British labour market, although employment figures are higher for men. It is important to note, however, that the proportion of female migrant workers in the total working-age

Fig. 7.8 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the French labour market by origin and gender, 1995–2007


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

Fig. 7.9 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the British labour market by origin and gender, 1995–2007

population has grown continuously over the period. In 2017, there were a total of 1625 thousand female migrants and 1894 thousand male migrants working in the British labour market, which represented 3.9% and 4.6% of the total working-age population, respectively (Fig. 7.9).



Unfortunately, there is no data available for Italy over the period 1995–2006, so our analysis focuses on the period 2006–2017. In spite of this, it is clear that Italy has received a large number of migrants over this period, particularly from non-EU countries (Fig. 7.10). In terms of growth, the number of migrant workers has grown by 85% from 2006 to 2017, with EU-migrants growing by 149% over the period. In spite of the latter, the presence of non-EU migrants still outnumbers EU migrants. In 2017, non-EU migrant workers accounted for 4% of the Italian working-age population compared to 2% for EU migrant workers. Majority of migrants come from Morocco, China and Albania. In terms of the number of males to female migrant workers in the Italian labour force, there are no obvious gender differences. In 2017, the number of female migrant workers was 1055 thousand, while the number of male migrant workers was 1332 thousand. In terms of proportion of the working-age population, males accounted for 0.5% more than females.

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


Fig. 7.10 Evolution of the participation of migrants in the Italian labour market by origin and gender, 1995–2007



Today migration is one of the most important issues that politicians face in Europe. Beyond pure economic reasons, most countries consider migration a priority in their political agendas because of the social conflict that emerges between those who oppose migration and those who support the integration of the migrant population (Heath & Richards, 2019; Liebig & Tronstad, 2018). As mentioned in the introduction, the population structure in the EU has changed dramatically due to a decline in fertility rates and increased life-spans. This demographic transformation has huge implications for the sustainability of public expenditure on pensions and healthcare as well as for the labour market. Labour shortages are increasing in most EU countries, particularly in sectors related to ageing, such as healthcare. As Spielvogel and Meghnagi (2018) highlight, migration has been considered to be a solution to these challenges, as migrants are, on average, younger than the population in destination countries, tend to have high fertility rates and make relatively scarce use of public services. However, as migrants themselves integrate and become part of the labour market, and subsequently access public services, the issue becomes more complex. Moreover, the increasing digitalisation of market economies has led to the transformation and sometimes, eradication of routine and low-skilled jobs, the type of jobs where migrants are more likely to be employed (Biagi, Grubanov-Boskovic, Natale, & Sebastian Lago, 2018). According to the LFS, work reasons were the second reason for migration in the EU after family reasons. In addition, the presence of migrants from the same country of origin is the major driver of labour migration, as they can help mitigate moving costs by providing support and accommodation and facilitate the integration process (Migali et al., 2018). The analysis conducted in this chapter has revealed that the


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

migrant working-age population in the EU has registered a steady increase over the last few decades, despite moderate growth activity and employment rates. If we distinguish by origin and gender of the migrants, we observe a very rapid growth of migrants from EU countries to the detriment of those from non-EU countries mainly attributed to the enlargement of the EU. With respect to gender, despite majority of migrants being women, their participation in the labour force, and in employment, is still lower than that of men. It is important to highlight, however, that while two decades ago female migrants tended to have a passive role associated with family duties, they are increasingly being incorporated into the labour market. Nonetheless, migrant female workers normally enter the labour market as flexible workers on low salaries in low-skilled sectors like domestic services. In our analysis of the distribution of labour migration amongst the top five migrant recipient EU countries, we found that only five countries account for three-quarters of the migrant working-age population in the EU. These countries are Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Some of these have been “traditional” destination countries, like Germany, France or the United Kingdom. However, Southern countries, like Italy, and in particular Spain, have only more recently become destination countries. Working-age migrants to these five EU countries come from a broad range of countries. In Spain, majority come from Latin America, and in Italy, from non-EU countries like Morocco or China. In contrast, the growth of migrant workers from EU countries has been particularly important in Germany and the United Kingdom due to the growth in intra-EU mobility, especially from Eastern European Member States. Thus, in terms of origin, we find, on the one hand, two countries with a rising presence of workers from other EU-countries, namely Germany and the United Kingdom and, on the other hand, three countries where migration from non-EU countries is particularly important to their labour markets, namely, Spain, France and Italy. Overall, employment participation is lower among women than men, with these differences being particularly acute for countries like Germany and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom and Italy. In contrast, differences in employment participation between women and men are lower in Spain and France. The differential features of the role played by migrants in the labour market of the EU countries analysed confirm the need for the implementation of adequate labour market integration policies aimed at improving access and meeting changing labour market demands. Other issues like the prevention of exploitation and discrimination also have to be taken into consideration. A recent study conducted by the European Migration Network (European Migration Network, 2019) highlights that the main barriers migrants face to access the labour market are related to the lack of language skills, the lack of recognition of qualifications and the existence of discriminatory practices. To date, countries like Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom have adopted a mainstream approach, where labour integration is a horizontal policy matter. In contrast, countries like France or Italy have adopted a more individualised approach that combines mandatory integration programmes with language courses and other types of customised support. However, there are still important gaps, particularly in relation to the design of delivery of such methods.

7 Labour Migration in the European Union: Recent Trends and Future Prospects


References Aparicio Gómez, R., García Borrego, I., & García Domínguez, M. d. M. (1998). Identidad y género: Mujeres magrebíes en Madrid. Madrid: Dirección General de la Mujer. Arango, J. (2017). Theories of international migration. In D. Joly (Ed.), International migration in the new millennium: Global movement and settlement. Aldershot: Ashgate. Arellano Millán, M. (2005). Trabajadoras latinoamericanas en España: Migraciones laborales y género. Cuadernos de Relaciones Laborales, 24(1), 151–179. Bauer, T., & Zimmermann, K. (1998). Causes of international migration: A survey. In P. Gorter, P. Nijkamp, & J. Poot (Eds.), Crossing borders: Regional and urban perspectives on international migration. Aldershot: Ashgate. Biagi, F., Grubanov-Boskovic, S., Natale, F., & Sebastian Lago, R. (2018). Migrant workers and the digital transformation in the EU. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Blanco, C. (2000). Las migraciones contemporáneas. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. Bodvarsson, O. B., & Van den Berg, H. (2013). The economics of immigration: Theory and policy. New York: Springer. Castles, S., de Hass, S., & Miller, M. J. (2014). The age of migration: International population movements in the modern world. New York: Guilford. European Migration Network. (2019). Labour market integration of third country nationals in EU member states – Synthesis report. Brussels: European Migration Network. Faist, T., Fauser, M., & Reisenauer, E. (2013). Transnational migration. Cambridge: Polity Press. Giménez Romero, C. (2003). ¿Qué es la inmigración? ¿Problema y oportunidad? ¿Cómo lograr la integración de los inmigrantes? ¿Multiculturalismo o interculturalismo? Barcelona: R.B.A. Integral. Grinberg, L., & Grinberg, R. (1984). A psychoanalytic study of migration: Its normal and pathological aspects. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 32(1), 13–38. Heath, A., & Richards, L. (2019). How do Europeans differ in their attitudes to inmigration?: Findings from the European social survey 2002/03-2016/17. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, 222. Paris: OECD. Hierro, M. (2016). Latin American migration to Spain: Main reasons and future perspectives. International Migration, 54(1), 64–83. International Labour Organization (ILO). (2017). Addressing governance challenges in a changing labour migration landscape. Geneva: International Labour Organization. Kritz, M., Lim, L. L., & Zlotnik, H. (1992). International migration systems. A global approach. Oxford: Clarendon. Lee, E. S. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography, 3(1), 47–57. Liebig, T., & Tronstad, K. (2018). Triple disadvantage?: A first overview of the integration of refugee women. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, 216. Paris: OECD. Mabogunje, A. (1970). Systems approach to a theory of rural-urban migration. Geographical Analysis, 2(1), 1–18. Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Graeme, H., Kouaouchi, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, E. (1998). Worlds in motion: Understanding international migration at the end of the millennium. Oxford: Clarendon. Micolta León, A. (2005). Teorías y conceptos asociados al estudio de las migraciones internacionales. Revista Del Departamento de Trabajo Social de la Facultad de Ciencias Humanas de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 7, 59–76. Migali, S., Natale, F., Tintori, G., Kalantaryan, S., Grubanov-Boskovic, S., Scipioni, M., et al. (2018). International migration drivers. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Oso, L. (1997). La Migración hacia España de mujeres jefas de hogar: Una dinámica migratoria creada por las estrategias de los actores sociales del contexto receptor y las actoras de la migración. Doctoral dissertation, University of La Coruña, Spain.


J. A. Camacho-Ballesta et al.

Pellegrino, A. (2004). Migration from Latin America to Europe: Trends and policy challenges. Geneva: International Organization for Migration. Petras, E. (1981). The global labour market in the modern world economy. In M. M. Kritz, C. B. Keely, & S. M. Tomasi (Eds.), Global trends in migration: Theory and research on international population movements. New York: Centre of Migration Studies. Piore, M. J. (1979). Birds of passage: Migrant labour and industrial societies. New York: Cambridge University Press. Ravenstein, E. G. (1885). The laws of migration. Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 48(2), 167–235. Sjaastad, L. A. (1962). The cost and returns of human migration. Journal of Political Economy, 705, 80–93. Spielvogel, G., & Meghnagi, M. (2018). Assessing the role of migration in European labour force growth by 2030. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, 204. Paris: OECD. Stark, O. (1991). The migration of labor. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell. Stark, O., & Taylor, J. E. (1991). Migration incentives, migration types: The role of relative deprivation. The Economic Journal, 101(408), 1163–1178. Thomas, W. I., & Znaniecki, F. (1918). The polish peasant in Europe and America (1918–1920). Boston: Gorham Press. United Nations. (1998). Recommendations on statistics of international migration (Rev. 1). New York: United Nations. Van Hear, N., Bakewell, O., & Long, K. (2018). Push-pull plus: Reconsidering the drivers of migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(6), 927–944. Wallerstein, I. (1974). The modern world-system. Capitalist agriculture and the origins of the European. World-economy in the sixteenth century. New York: Academic. Zelinsky, W. (1971). The hypothesis of mobility transition. American Geographical Society, 61(2), 219–249.

José A. Camacho-Ballesta is Professor for Economic Policy in the Department of International and Spanish Economics and Director of Institute of Regional Development at the University of Granada, Spain. He obtained his Diploma and PhD in Economics from the University of Málaga. His research focuses on conditions for regional development and labour creation, structural change and input-output models. Bárbara Montero is Lecturer in the Department of International and Spanish Economics and researcher of Institute of Regional Development at the University of Granada. She obtained her Diploma in Business Administration and PhD in Economics from the University of Granada. Her research focuses on labour economics. She also investigates the effects of segregation and wage discrimination in the labour markets. Mercedes Rodríguez is Lecturer for Economic Environment in the Department of International and Spanish Economics and researcher of Institute of Regional Development at the University of Granada. She obtained her Diploma and PhD in Economics from the University of Granada. Her research focuses on innovation and service activities. She also investigates the effects on growth and employment of new activities linked to the circular economy.

Chapter 8

Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria and the Slovak Republic Sonila Danaj, Katarina Hollan, and Anette Scoppetta



The past few decades have seen an increase in overall inequalities in the world of work. Processes of work fragmentation, outsourcing, deregulation of labour, and the transformation of the structure of employment due to increased automatization and digitalization have led to stark shifts in labour market structures (Kalleberg, 2000; Marchington, Grimshaw, Rubery, & Willmott, 2005; Rubery, 2015). The demand for market flexibility and casualization has sown the seeds for the growth of these inequalities and increased segmentation of the labour market (Doellgast, Lillie, & Pulignano, 2018; Greer & Doellgast, 2017). Migrant labour is closely interlinked with these developments, as migrants are often located in the most precarious segments of labour markets, in sectors with high levels of job insecurity, low pay and poor working conditions. Because migrant workers experience these precarious conditions disproportionately and more frequently, they are more vulnerable and exposed to increased occupational safety and health (OSH) risks compared to other workers (Benach, Muntaner, Chung, & Benavides, 2010; EU-OSHA, 2007; ILO, 2016). In this chapter, we focus on the occupational safety and health of temporary crossborder labour migrants, primarily posted European Union (EU) workers, but also temporary workers from third countries (TCNs). Posting is the sending of workers by an employer from one EU country to another to provide a service on a temporary basis. After the service is carried out, the employee should, in principle, return to the employer in the home country. This is regulated via the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) (PWD) and is applicable mainly to EU citizens and also third-country

S. Danaj (*) · K. Hollan · A. Scoppetta European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



S. Danaj et al.

nationals who reside in an EU Member State or whose country of origin has made an agreement to post workers. Although enforced since 1996, this form of labour mobility has been used more prominently since the enlargement of the EU in 2004, and has grown from estimates of 1 million in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2016 (De Wispelaere & Pacolet, 2017). The majority of postings (64%) occur in sectors with relatively low wages that cannot be delocalized and are either project-based such as construction, which accounts for half of all postings, or seasonal work, such as agriculture or services. The low-income wages of these sectors have triggered local skills and labour shortages, which are then filled by temporary labour migrants. The literature on posting has focused mainly on the impact of multi-level regulation and cross-border labour mobility on employment relations and working conditions of mobile European workers (Alberti & Danaj, 2017; Cremers, 2011; Lillie, 2012; Sippola & Kall, 2016; Wagner, 2015), the interpretation of the Directive in the European Court (Barnard, 2009; Kilpatrick, 2009), and on trade union responses to posted work (Berntsen & Lillie, 2015; Danaj & Sippola, 2015; Lillie & Greer, 2007; Lillie & Sippola, 2011). A number of authors describe the frequently extended hours compared to non-posted work, the pressure to work at high intensity, the substandard and crowded accommodations, and the social isolation posted workers are subjected to (e.g. Alberti & Danaj, 2017; Caro, Berntsen, Lillie, & Wagner, 2015; Cremers, 2011; Meardi, Martin, & Riera, 2012). Yet, there is a gap in the literature on the occupational safety and health (OSH) of posted workers and the factors that influence it. Although there are several important contributions on occupational safety and health and the social factors that influence the OSH of migrant workers (Benach et al., 2010; Bust, Gibb, & Pink, 2008; Sargeant & Tucker, 2009; Schenker, 2010; Tutt, Dainty, Gibb, & Pink, 2011; Tutt, Pink, Dainty, & Gibb, 2013), there is little research on temporary cross-border migrant workers and the implications this type of labour mobility has on their safety and health at work. This chapter contributes to the literature on posting and occupational health and safety of migrant workers by recounting the OSH conditions temporary migrant workers face in two very distinct receiving country contexts: Austria and the Slovak Republic. We combine the OSH literature on the impact of subcontracting and precarity (Benach et al., 2014; Benach, Vives, Tarafa, Delclos, & Muntaner, 2016; Lingard, 2013; Manu, Ankrah, Proverbs, & Suresh, 2013; Manu, Ankrah, Proverbs, Suresh, & Callaghan, 2009; Mayhew, Quintan, & Ferris, 1997) with the literature on the OSH of migrant workers (Benach et al., 2010; Sargeant & Tucker, 2009) to explain how cross-border temporary labour mobility exposes posted workers to OSH-related vulnerabilities. We argue that the subcontracted and temporary nature of the work carried out by cross-border mobile workers exposes the neglect of EU OSH standards by employers and workers. The consequences of neglect, such as lack of proper healthcare and insurance provision become especially apparent when workers are injured or become sick at work. We find that the most vulnerable group within the category are third-country nationals, either posted from other EU countries or on work permits, often left without any health care support following an accident at work.

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


Following the introduction, the chapter continues with a description of the methodology used, an overview of the posting and OSH regulations, a discussion on the subcontracting of temporary cross-border employment, and the analysis of the Austrian and Slovak cases, followed by concluding remarks and policy implications.



The research question guiding our analysis is as follows: how does the temporary cross-border mobility of posted workers affect their occupational safety and health in Austria and the Slovak Republic? The study is based on the comparative case study approach (Yin, 2003), which makes it possible to observe the social phenomena of cross-border labour mobility in the wider national contexts and its interaction within these contexts. In addition, a cross-national comparison was used to observe how the same social phenomenon unfolds in different national contexts (Hantrais & Mangen, 1996). Austria and Slovakia differ in terms of economic development, institutional arrangements, the welfare state, and their experience with migration. As Member States of the European Union, both have transposed the Posting of Workers Directive, and are exposed to the challenges of its implementation and enforcement. Given its geographic location and robust economy, Austria has a long history of labour immigration coming mainly from Central and Eastern Europe. It ranks fourth in the list of EU countries based on the number of posted workers received. The country has a well-established OSH legislation, which is furthermore well-enforced. Yet the transnational character of posting creates considerable tensions for national enforcement authorities. On the contrary, considerable-scale immigration is a new phenomenon in Slovakia. Slovakia has, until recently, experienced opposite migrant mobility compared to Austria as its citizens usually have emigrated to higherincome European countries. However, the fast growth of the automotive industry and the lack of domestic labour willing to work for low wages and often under strenuous working conditions, drive the rapid inflow of migrant workers, most of whom are from pre-accession countries such as Serbia. The literature on the occupational safety and health of posted workers, in general, is scarce and even more limited for the two countries in question. This chapter is based on original empirical data collected through 20 semi-structured interviews with representatives of public authorities, enforcement agencies, social security agencies, social partners, and NGOs in Austria and Slovakia, as well as ten interviews with posted workers and temporary migrant workers posted to these countries during the period of the research. The interviews were carried out between August 2017 and March 2018 and were conducted in the language of the respondents, with the support of interpreters in the case of posted and temporary migrant workers when needed. The interviewed workers came from EU Member States such as Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, or Slovenia and from third countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and were working in the sectors of construction,


S. Danaj et al.

international road transport, or manufacturing. In the case of Austria, all workers interviewed were posted, whereas, in the case of Slovakia, we interviewed both posted and migrant workers hired by employment agencies on a temporary basis. The reason we included temporary migrant workers in the case of Slovakia was that they came from third countries and although some of them were not formally posted, their employment experience resembled that of posted workers considerably. Therefore, in the analysis of the Slovak case, we include the term ‘temporary migrant workers’ to make this distinction. The fieldwork for this study confirmed the challenge already identified in the literature (Alberti & Danaj, 2017; Berntsen, 2015), which describes posted workers as a difficult target group to access and interview due to the high level of insecurity they are often exposed to, their hyper-mobility, and language barriers. The workers were generally suspicious of outsiders inquiring into their employment circumstances, especially after media reports that drew the attention of the public to the poor working conditions and wage dumping of posted workers and other types of temporary migrant workers in Austria (Szigetvari, 2017) and Slovakia (Kvašňák, 2017). With the help of translators and the mediation of trade unions, NGOs and community networks, however, it was possible to obtain their participation in the research. Nevertheless, we were unable to interview any employers, so the viewpoints described are those of public authorities, social partners and the posted workers interviewed. Despite the exploratory nature of this qualitative study and although the data collected from the interviews have obvious limitations in terms of generalisability, the research carried out provides deep insights into how the conditions of their employment affect the OSH of posted workers. In order to explain how cross-border temporary labour mobility influences posted and temporary migrant workers’ occupational safety and health, we use the layers of vulnerability framework proposed by Sargeant and Tucker (2009). Their framework comprises three intertwined layers: migration factors, which encompass the conditions of recruitment and the migration status of the workers; the characteristics of the migrants, which include the socio-economic conditions in the home country, workers’ education, professional and language skills; and the receiving country conditions, such as the type of employment and the sector, access to collective representation, access to regulatory protection, and issues of social exclusion/social isolation. The differentiating feature between posted workers and other types of migrant workers, however, i.e. their temporary cross-border mobility framed as a service provision, was fundamental to capturing the complexities of their situation and providing a more detailed account of their OSH vulnerabilities and experiences (Danaj, 2018). Therefore, we combined Sargeant and Tucker’s multi-layered framework with the OSH literature on social factors such as subcontracting and precarity (Benach et al., 2014, 2016; Lingard, 2013; Manu et al., 2009, 2013; Mayhew et al., 1997). Through thematic analysis we examined how factors such as subcontracting, cross-border labour mobility, and temporariness of employment influence the occupational safety and health of posted workers in transnational workplaces and expose them to higher degrees of vulnerability compared to their locally-hired fellowworkers.

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .



Regulating Posting and OSH

The Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) adopted in 1996 aimed to regulate the mobility of temporary workers among the Member States. The Directive guarantees minimum standards to posted workers (Article 3/1), in terms of working time and minimum rest periods, minimum pay, and health, safety, and hygiene at work. Yet, from the beginning it was criticized for presenting threats of social dumping triggered by unfair competition between local and posted workers, especially in cases of workers posted from lower-income to higher-income Member States (Cremers, 2011). Unequal terms and conditions threaten collectively bargained national standards, which explain the disputes between trade unions and posting companies addressed in national courts and the European Court of Justice. Unions requested that all posted and locally-hired workers receive the same terms and conditions in order to avoid social dumping. The deterioration of overall working conditions and the poor working and living conditions of posted workers in particular were used in support of legal arguments to combat social dumping. The position of the Court in a number of decisions (also known as the Laval Quartet) has been in favour of the freedom of competition and establishment, rather than equality of social rights and treatment (Dølvik & Visser, 2009). The Court has interpreted the minimum protection of workers’ rights stipulated in the Directive as a ceiling, allowing for differences, and hence, inequalities, in the terms and conditions between posted workers and locally-hired workers (Barnard, 2009; Kilpatrick, 2009). In a more recent decision (Sähköalojen ammattiliitto ry v. Elektrobudowa Spolka Akcyjna: case C-396/13, ECR 2015), however, the right to equal pay for similar skills in workplaces with collective bargaining arrangements was recognized (Cremers, 2016). This last decision has drawn criticism to the implications of unequal terms in the workplace as a threat to the livelihood of local workers and the pressure worker organizations have put on their governments to protect national workers’ interests. Furthermore, the ambiguity of the Directive created circumstances of abuse and exploitation, as some companies used the transnational nature of posting to either circumvent national regulation, or chose to apply the most convenient national system, or, in the utmost fraudulent cases, not to apply any at all (Berntsen & Lillie, 2015). In response, the Enforcement Directive of the Directive 96/71/EC (2014/67/ EU) offered a set of measures and control mechanisms to warrant genuine posting and facilitate access to information for employers and workers alike by stipulating the requirement to provide information in terms of labour and social conditions including OSH (Article 5, 2c) in languages workers understand. However, the Enforcement Directive did not address the core issue of inequality in wages (Cremers, 2016), and, consequently, the political pressure to revise the Posting of Workers Directive increased. A revised directive proposal was approved by the European Parliament on 29 May 2018 and adopted by the Council on 21 June 2018. Key amendments include the application of the equal pay principle to remuneration,


S. Danaj et al.

the acknowledgment of employment agencies as employers for the workers they post, and additional monitoring and sanctions mechanisms. Occupational health and safety have received limited attention in the text of the Directive and the Enforcement Directive. They guarantee minimum standards according to host country’s (i.e. national) criteria. At the same time, there are international mechanisms such as the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) OSH instruments, which cover a wide range of general OSH provisions to the protection against specific risks, toward specific branches of activity (ILO, 2018), and EU OSH regulations and guidelines, which include an OSH Framework Directive and a number of specific guidelines on various OSH risks and sectors. Prevention, training, and protection are at the core of all these mechanisms and should be applicable to all workers employed within the territory of any EU Member State. However, when it comes to enforcement, despite advancements, much more remains to be done (Del Castillo, 2016). The provision of occupational health and safety for posted workers involves both posting and OSH regulation. These sets of rules should, in principle, complement each other and provide the necessary protection for this category of mobile workers within the European Union. Nonetheless, in order to influence or change workers’ conditions, it is not only necessary for EU regulations to be transposed into national legislation, but also to be implemented at the national level, where national systems of industrial relations and health and safety have their own predominantly homegrown mechanisms for enforcement. National systems are complex and embedded in the history of institutional development of a particular country (Alli, 2008). Their coordination with EU law can be challenging, especially when implementation and enforcement require restructuring pre-existing mechanisms. In the case of posting, resistance to adjust to a multi-lingual labour force by addressing language barriers in terms of providing information freely and easily, but also in terms of capacity building in enforcement agencies can be the result of the lack of awareness of the composition of the labour force or a lack of willingness to do so.


Temporary Cross-Border Employment and OSH

Work fragmentation and outsourcing have led to the creation of multi-employer workplaces with a main contractor subcontracting parts of the work processes to smaller companies, thus creating a long supply chain. Subcontracting presents challenges for occupational safety and health (Cox, Fletcher, & Rhisiart, 2014) and elevated risks of injuries and fatal accidents (Nenonen, 2011). There are a number of reasons why this is so. The first is that companies operating at different levels might apply different OSH standards. The larger companies with higher OSH standards and internal mechanisms for enforcement might not have the incentive to take responsibility for OSH, especially if they are at the top or the middle of the subcontracting chain. Outsourcing could mean they have no workers on-site and have transferred the project to smaller companies, together with the OSH

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


responsibilities for their workers. The fragmentation of labour has also brought about the fragmentation of safety oversight and confusion on who is responsible for safety. Legally, the employer is responsible for providing OSH training and protection, but at multi-employer workplaces, it is uncertain to whom this responsibility falls. This obligation is attributed to the direct employer, i.e. the subcontractor at the end of the subcontracting chain. The ambiguity on liability laws confuses responsibilities, as there are EU countries wherein there is joint-liability for some issues, such as wages and certain social benefits, but not necessarily for safety and health (Danaj & Zólyomi, 2018). When the hiring entity is an employment agency, there is even more confusion on responsibility, as employment agencies act as intermediary market agents but are not necessarily recognized as employers by national laws. The smaller outfits at the end of the subcontracting chain are usually left to bear the responsibilities for OSH training and protection, as well as the consequences of inadequate OSH protection (Swuste, Frijters, & Guldenmund, 2012). Previous research findings indicate that smaller subcontractors might not have the knowledge, means and the financial incentives to maintain high OSH standards (Lingard, 2013; Manu et al., 2009; Mayhew et al., 1997). The European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) data confirm that the challenges in providing proper OSH protection become more significant as enterprises get smaller (Wadsworth & Walters, 2018). Additionally, in the common European market, companies from diverse countries can bid and be hired to execute parts of the project, therefore multi-employer workplaces might also be multi-national and multi-lingual. For safety at work, this implies diverse working cultures which can lead to further challenges, such as a lack of communication or miscommunication and conflicts of interest, hence working against effective OSH management (Guldenmund, 2000; Swuste et al., 2012). Multinational workplaces might face communication barriers as workers coming from different countries, especially posted workers, are brought in only for short periods of time and often do not speak the language of the host country. Different safety cultures combined with language barriers add to the OSH risks migrant workers face (Tutt et al., 2011). Management should, therefore, address these barriers from the outset, by providing training and education in languages accessible to workers prior to the commencement of the work; translating all OSH instructions and warning signs into multiple languages; and providing complementary visual aids. Their absence in multi-lingual sites could effectively translate into a lack of informative measures for workers who do not understand the local language. The importance of language accessibility as a means to receive and convey information is underscored in the Enforcement Directive and supported by empirical evidence in other studies on the health and safety of migrants (Bust et al., 2008; Tutt et al., 2011, 2013). Communication barriers are not the only challenges to safety at work for migrant workers. The literature identifies migration, i.e. cross-border or transnational mobility, as an important overall social factor that influences the occupational health and safety of migrant workers (Benach et al., 2010; Sargeant & Tucker, 2009). Both grey and academic literature report that most migrants find themselves in a segmented labour market, doing physically demanding and highly hazardous jobs in dangerous


S. Danaj et al.

industries, such as in construction, often under poor working conditions, in elevated levels of precarity, and sometimes, in semi- or complete informality (Benach et al., 2010; EU-OSHA, 2007; Schenker, 2010). Their experience is often one of exploitation and abuse, discrimination or bullying and social exclusion. They often feel pressure to accept substandard working conditions for fear of reprisal. It is their social-economic condition that makes them so vulnerable. Additionally, they often do not receive appropriate training on health and safety, which leads to higher risk of workplace-related accidents and fatalities. Moreover, they often do not have (full) access to care and compensation in case of occupational injury. These experiences are particularly lived by migrants in their early stages of migration, when their knowledge of the host country’s labour market and protection systems, including the OSH systems, are still limited (Piore, 1979). According to Sargeant and Tucker’s framework (2009), the conditions of recruitment and migration status of the workers influence their access to OSH training and protection. Workers with regular contracts and regular residence and/or work permits, preferably permanent or long-term, are better protected. Uncertainty about their migration status and precarious employment expose migrant workers to higher OSH risks with irregular migrants operating in the informal economy at the highest level of OSH vulnerability (Benach et al., 2014; Woolfson, Fudge, & Thörnqvist, 2014). Apart from migration factors, the characteristics of migrants, such as their socio-economic condition in the home country and their education and skills represent a second layer of vulnerability (Sargeant & Tucker, 2009). Migrant workers who come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds in the home country, combined with low levels of training and skills, are more prone to consent to poor working conditions in order to stay in the receiving country and earn for themselves and their families back home. The final layer of vulnerability refers to the receiving country conditions, which comprise collective representation and regulatory protection, as well as migrant workers’ access to these provisions. The more limited their access to protection provisions in the host country, the more vulnerable they will be to OSH risks. The layers of vulnerability framework clearly links precarious work with higher occupational safety and health risks for migrant workers. The identification of precarious employment as an emerging social determinant of health comes from the literature on public health (Benach et al., 2014, 2016; Schenker, 2010). Benach et al. (2016: 234) define precarious employment as ‘a multi-dimensional construct encompassing dimensions of employment insecurity, individualized bargaining relations between workers and employers, low wages and economic deprivation, limited workplace rights and social protection, and powerlessness to exercise legally granted workplace rights’. This definition could equally be applied to the circumstances in which certain categories of migrant workers find themselves, particularly, temporary and posted workers. Although not all posting leads to social dumping, previous literature on posting recognizes the high risk of social dumping for posted workers (Berntsen & Lillie, 2015; Cremers, 2011; Cremers, Dølvik, & Bosch, 2007). Some employers exploit the grey areas created by the cross-border mobility of their workers to shop for the most convenient, cost-cutting national system or circumvent any regulations

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


(Berntsen & Lillie, 2015). These practices, as well as fraudulent ones, such as ‘fake posting’, letterbox companies, and bogus self-employment, increase the vulnerability of posted workers. Workers are often paid less, subjected to deductions on various expenses, and pressured to work at high intensity, and on an extended work schedule, both of which have negative consequences for their occupational safety and health (Alberti & Danaj, 2017; Meardi et al., 2012). Previous research has also found that accommodation arrangements for posted workers are often poor, overcrowded, and sometimes isolated (Caro et al., 2015; Cremers, 2011). In addition, posted workers’ access to social protection is constrained by their posting assignment, which means that their contributions are paid in their home country. Furthermore, their temporary employment duration in the host country while posted means that they have limited knowledge of the complex national regulatory frameworks, institutional structures and procedures, and have limited means to access support due to poor language skills (Danaj & Zólyomi, 2018; Scheibelhofer, Balogh, & Regös, 2016). Unions in the host country have tried to support posted workers; however, the limited scope of union action on OSH and workers’ hypermobility across borders have worked against union efforts (Berntsen, 2015; Danaj & Sippola, 2015). Despite the warnings on the possible implications of the conditions under which posted workers find themselves with respect to their occupational safety and health, there is a gap in the literature on what precisely these implications are. The two case studies in this chapter offer empirical data from Austria and Slovakia to address these gaps.



Austria is ranked fourth in the list of countries that receive most posted workers in the European Union after Germany, France and Belgium. Posting to Austria is mainly from neighbouring countries such as Slovenia, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy. Third-country nationals are also posted to Austria, often via another EU Member State, as is the case of workers from former Yugoslav republics that are posted to Austria via Slovenia. The numbers continue to increase every year. The latest data available indicate that in 2016 there were 120,150 portable documents, i.e. A1 forms (PDs A1) issued for workers posted to Austria (European Commission, 2018). For a relatively small country, this means that the proportion of postings in national employment for 2016 was 2.8%, while in the construction sector it reached 19.1% (De Wispelaere & Pacolet, 2017), which makes posting a non-negligible part of the Austrian labour market. Posted workers are predominantly employed in hazardous jobs and with high levels of OSH risks such as construction (55.9%), followed by the service sector (18.1%), and other industrial activities (16.9%) (European Commission, 2018). Working for small companies at the end of the subcontracting chain is often accompanied by a series of vulnerabilities. Although the Posting of Workers Directive presumes a previous employment relationship between the employer and the


S. Danaj et al.

posted worker, various forms of fraudulent contractual arrangements, such as letterbox companies, bogus self-employment, and in some cases, illegal or semi-illegal forms of employment have been identified in Austria (Schmatz & Wetzel, 2014). Enforcement authorities for OSH and employment rights, such as the Labour Inspectorate and the competence centre, “Lohn- und Sozialdumping Bekämpfung (LSDB)” (Fight against wage and social dumping), consider posted work to be at the blurry margins of legal employment. Undeclared work might not be as prominent an issue as in the case of neighbouring Slovakia, yet it exists. Recent reports indicate that construction is the sector where illegal forms of employment are most prevalent (European Commission, 2017). Another practice reported by Schmatz and Wetzel (2014), has been declaring part-time or hourly-based employment with the social insurance providers, because in reality, workers work full-time or more hours. The interviewed labour inspectors confirmed that employers use these practices to circumvent Austrian regulations on salaries, including overtime pay and other bonuses, and to minimize insurance costs. As a result, many posted workers in Austria are not being paid correctly. Underpayment comes in the form of disregard of the minimum wage, collectively agreed rates, unpaid allowances and other bonuses, deductions for accommodation and other expenses, and the use of the home country’s rate of pay. In some cases, it has also been reported that while workers receive an equal salary in Austria, they have to pay back some of it to the employer upon returning home (Schmatz & Wetzel, 2014). Such instances of social dumping create pressure on posted workers to work longer hours and with higher intensity in order to be able to earn more. These working practices increase OSH risks for workers who are often overworked and exhausted. Posted workers are sometimes hired through letterbox companies and employment intermediaries with the sole purpose of being posted to another EU country (Cremers, 2014). Austria is at the receiving end of this type of stratagem. In such cases, workers do not receive sufficient or any information about the working conditions and OSH rules of their prospective workplace before they are posted, which further exposes them to OSH risks. Sometimes, as indicated by a representative of the regional trade union office, the information they receive is so sparse that they do not even know who their direct employer is, which can have severe consequences for their OSH in terms of information, training, personal protective equipment, grievance procedures, and, healthcare provision in the event of sickness or an accident at work. For posted workers hired directly before being posted, they might not have received any OSH training at all. Labour inspectors interviewed indicated that, depending on the sending country, employees might not report any OSH risks they are faced with. Because OSH standards might be higher to what workers are used to in their home or sending country, they are often unaware of the OSH-related conditions that must be met, as in the case of workers sent to Austria from other EU Member States or third countries. In other cases, certain companies take advantage of the very transnational nature of posting. They exploit the institutional challenges of cross-border communication between health and social security institutions in the home and host country and do

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


not pay insurance contributions for their posted employees (Berntsen & Lillie, 2015). To avoid being discovered, as we were told by enforcement agencies’ representatives and posted workers, they sometimes also manipulate workers into leaving their workplace immediately after an injury and ask not to report the accident to the authorities. In Austria, employers are obliged by the General Social Security Act (Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, ASVG) to report accidents at work that result in more than 3 days sick-leave to the Austrian Workers’ Compensation Board (Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt, AUVA), and it is this institution that reviews individual cases and decides whether to report them to the Labour Inspectorate for further investigation. In severe cases, authorities are called immediately, together with the police, to record the details of the accident. Unfortunately, workers usually find out about such procedures only after they become sick or are injured at work, as we have been informed by our interviewees. One Hungarian posted worker said that after he was injured in Austria, he went back home to Hungary to recover but did not receive any healthcare coverage and sick leave benefits. After waiting for 2 months, he discovered the company never filed his case with the Austrian authorities and therefore there was no record of his occupational accident. To make matters worse, the company declared bankruptcy, thus making it impossible for him to pursue his case. In this case, the fraudulent behaviour of the company was combined with the Hungarian posted worker’s lack of knowledge of procedures in Austria. Labour inspectors, trade unionists and workers interviewed all suggested that the complex host country rules and regulations combined with a lack of language skills had a negative effect on the occupational safety and health of posted workers. This resulted in many cases of unreported work-related accidents. Lack of knowledge and transparency of the system was also mentioned in less severe cases and where language was not an issue, such as a German worker posted frequently to Austria who said he preferred to have any treatment and other checks done back home. His short explanation was: ‘I simply know more people in Germany’. Moreover, labour inspectors also recounted cases of workers intentionally not reporting work accidents because of fear of losing their jobs. Sargeant and Tucker (2009) argue that the socio-economic situation in the home country, education and skills, and language skills might create circumstances in which posted workers are highly dependent on the employers as a source of income. This dependence makes them compliant with poor working conditions and long working hours, work in hazardous conditions with little or no protection, and in cases of injury, a willingness not to report accidents to the relevant authorities and returning to work before they are fully recovered. The pressure of not wanting to lose their job in Austria which is difficult to find (even though workers are not employed in Austria directly their rate of pay is often better than in the home country) forces them to be complicit in their own exploitation and exposure to elevated OSH risks. The situation is particularly difficult for third-country nationals, whose employment, in general, is conditional on a valid work visa or permit issued in the EU country where they are posted from (Anderson, 2010). The temporary nature of such visa regimes implies that workers are highly dependent on their employer, who can


S. Danaj et al.

decide to revoke sponsoring their visa or work permit at any time. As a result, workers are under a lot of pressure to remain silent when they are being exploited, ignore OSH risks, and in some cases where an accident has occurred, consent to not receive appropriate healthcare services. The story of a posted worker from Bosnia and Herzegovina interviewed illustrates the OSH risks posted workers face. He had obtained a working permit in Slovenia and was then posted to Austria to work in the construction sector. One day at a construction site, while he was part of a team responsible to demount formworks for concrete walls, his leg was struck by a heavy bar that weighed 20–30 kg. He was hospitalized, underwent surgery and went through a lengthy recovery process. He is now incapacitated to work and requires further treatment and another surgery. After he was discharged from the hospital, a middle person sent by the employer started to contact him over the phone or in person and tried to persuade him to sign a medical form and declare that he did not want to receive any further treatment in Austria. At the same time, he encouraged him to seek treatment in Slovenia, from where he was posted, on the pretence that the health care system was better there and that the company’s health insurance agency demanded that he returned. Unconvinced, the worker inquired at the insurance agency and found out that the middle person’s claim was not true. The worker was faced with a predicament. He needed a job to be entitled to health insurance in order to be able to cover his expenses and receive sickness allowance in Austria. However, his work permit was due to expire in a few months, and if he did not do what the employer suggested through the middle person, he would not be able to renew the permit. The lack of the work permit would mean both losing the job and the right to reside in Austria, and not only would he be forced to leave Austria, but the European Union, and therefore lose any possibility of receiving any form of healthcare provision or benefits he could be entitled to either in Austria or in Slovenia. In this case, the defining characteristics of posting, i.e. the temporary and cross-border nature of his employment in Austria, intertwined with the migration status of third-country nationals, created a situation of high dependence on the employer with direct repercussions for the workers’ health and safety. The temporary and transnational nature of their posting also influences workers’ sense of belonging. Posted workers interviewed do not consider themselves as part of the Austrian workforce. Therefore, they do not join Austrian trade unions during their posting. Their access to collective representation and protection is also constrained by structural limitations which require workers to be members for 6 months before benefiting from legal union representation. Nonetheless, Austrian unions can provide assistance only in relation to the labour law, while in cases involving OSH, they can only provide some initial information and refer workers to other entities that might provide the appropriate support. UNDOK, the Drop-in Center for Undocumented Workers (Anlaufstelle zur gewerkschaftlichen Unterstützung UNDOKumentiert Arbeitender), which principally supports workers without secure residence permits, has been able to provide assistance to posted workers with unclear work and migration documentation, such as posted thirdcountry nationals, in asserting their rights and entitlements, including OSH-related benefits.

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .




Migration in Slovakia remains largely under-researched. The few studies that have looked at the phenomenon of mobility have mainly focused on emigration from Slovakia to other countries, which is understandable, considering large numbers of Slovak citizens have been moving abroad in recent decades. More recently the numbers of temporary migrant workers have decreased from a peak of around 177,000 in 2007 to 149,000 in 2017 (Datacube, 2018). Within the category of temporary migration however, posting continues to increase, resulting in Slovakia ranking as the seventh-largest sending country in the EU with a total of 112,028 PD A1s issued in 2016, comprising 4.9% of its national workforce (European Commission, 2018). Although Slovakia remains predominantly a sending country of posted/temporary migrant workers to other EU Member States, it is fast becoming a receiving country as well. The number of foreign workers in the country has risen almost fivefold from around 11,000 in 2008, to almost 52,000 in 2018 (Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, 2018). This constitutes 2.6% of the Slovak workforce (STATdat, 2018). The demand for labour is primarily driven by a large automotive industry, which caused Slovakia to be dubbed as the ‘European Detroit’ (Bilcik & Buzalka, 2012). The second-most important sector is construction. Since Slovak wages are not attractive to workers from other EU Member States (Nejedlý, 2018), workers come to Slovakia predominantly on a temporary basis, from third countries, such as Serbia or the Ukraine. Although there is some regular posting from other EU or third countries, this form of cross-border labour mobility is not a major source of temporary migration. Some Slovak employers exploit loopholes in national legislation that allow them to hire foreign citizens in Slovakia through ‘infocards’ rather than work permits. An infocard is a form that needs to be completed by the employer when they employ an EU citizen or a third-country national under an exemption from the requirement of a work permit specified in the Law on Employment of Non-nationals (Act 108/2018). According to this law, employers can hire third-country nationals directly without a work permit. They only need to file an infocard with the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, by classifying workers as highly skilled and justifying their employment with reference to a domestic labour or skills shortage. In the case of assembly and repair work, a Slovak company only needs a service contract with the sending company (Nejedlý, 2018). Filing the infocard is a simpler and quicker process than applying for a work permit, for which the procedures are lengthy and give workers only 90 days to work in the country. Consequently, by March 2018, the total number of third-country nationals with a work permit in Slovakia amounted to 9425. Those working with an ‘infocard’ totalled 13,637, and the number of workers from other EU countries working with an ‘infocard’ was 28,798. Most of these workers come from Serbia, Romania and the Ukraine (Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, 2018), and are mainly recruited via employment agencies, located in other EU countries, such as Hungary, for example.


S. Danaj et al.

The exemptions to the law are confusing and therefore often misused. It is rather easy for workers who are brought to Slovakia to eventually fall into a status of irregularity, whether it is work carried out without a formal contract or the employer not paying social security contributions. The actual size of the informal sector and its evolution over time is difficult to assess due to the lack of accurate data. The Act on Illegal Work (Act 82/2005) that came into force in 2005 gave the National Labour Inspectorate the mandate to control illegal work. As the number of controls increased, so did the number of identified illegally employed workers. According to official statistics, in 2017, there was a total of 3384 illegal workers in Slovakia, 1265 of whom were foreign workers, but the majority were third-country nationals (1170) (National Labour Inspectorate, 2018). Undocumented work has, therefore, become a topic of concern in Slovakia. which has resulted from irregular posting or abuse of entry channels specified in the Slovak Act on Residence of Third Country Nationals (Act 404/2011), in conjunction with the Act on Employment Services (Act 5/2004), which were recently amended (resulting in Acts 108/2018 and 64/2018 respectively). Whether these regulatory adaptations will have the effect of curbing irregular migration is doubtful due to increased pressure from employers who claim national labour shortages are limiting production. The interaction between immigration controls and the demand for cheap labour from employers presents a double-edged sword to the Slovak system of employment and OSH regulation. While policy-makers attempt to balance the protection of migrant workers from exploitation with the populist demand to safeguard the Slovak labour market from unfair competition, they provide loopholes via exceptions from the law for employers to bring in migrant workers who are willing to work in low-wage sectors, such as manufacturing. These types of immigration controls help produce precarious working conditions that make migrant workers from third countries particularly dependent on employers (Anderson, 2010). As more and more temporary migrant and posted workers come to Slovakia, their OSH-related vulnerabilities increase. Recent studies (Bednárik, Kordošová, & Urdziková, 2017; Chudžíková & Bargerová, 2018) have already identified alarming degrees of labour exploitation and undeclared work among third-country nationals, especially workers from Ukraine. Temporary work agencies, through which thirdcountry nationals are hired, contribute to the exploitation of these workers in terms of remuneration, extended working hours, or illegal work status. A trade union representative also informed us that on the annual memorial service for victims of fatal work accidents organized by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family and the Confederation of Trade Unions, the list of names in 2016 carried a surprisingly large number of foreign workers. This has not been the case in previous years. The exposure to OSH risks is particularly problematic across sub-contracted companies, i.e. suppliers for larger, often transnational, businesses, such as automotive or electronic companies. There is substantial pressure from main contractors to reduce costs and to achieve these goals by hiring low-paid workers, who are increasingly posted or other temporary migrant workers, throughout the subcontracting chain. Temporary employment agencies are the main recruitment

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


channel, and provide workers to companies without taking responsibility for OSH training and protection. The workers interviewed reported they received insufficient or no OSH training upon arrival. And even when agency workers and core workers reportedly receive the same OSH training, their poor language skills create barriers between users and foreign agency workers that expose these workers to increased OSH risks (Bednárik et al., 2017). To save on costs, personal protective equipment is either insufficient or not provided at all. A trade union representative and OSH experts interviewed reported that main contractors do not consider workers at the end of the subcontracting chain as their employees, therefore they often do not provide the necessary OSH protection to these workers, but instead, transfer such responsibility to their direct employers, i.e. either the subcontractor or the employment agency. Within the category of subcontracted employment, there are also letterbox companies in the international road transport and haulage sector, who are based in Slovakia and who post workers from other EU countries to Belgium (BTB, 2017). The investigation of the Belgian transport union, BTB, found that most posted workers are Romanian and Bulgarian drivers who are recruited under the promise of better pay and good working conditions but find themselves in extremely precarious conditions. In the event of an accident at work, they discover that they do not have appropriate or any health insurance coverage and are sometimes asked to pay the company for any damage incurred to the trucks. Similar to the case of Austria, this study also reveals the negligible attention paid by letterbox companies to OSH regulations and policies, thus increasing the OSH-related risks posted workers face. Our fieldwork revealed that the wage differential between the home country and Slovakia, combined with the temporary nature of their employment, influences posted and temporary workers’ attitudes towards OSH risks. Coming from countries where wage levels are significantly lower, Serbian, Ukrainian or Bosnian workers consent to poorer terms and conditions and often overlook OSH risks. The workers interviewed explained that the only motivation for their temporary migration was to be able to accumulate enough savings for a fixed period and then return home. In order to maximize their earnings, they consent to working long hours and residing in cheap accommodation for large groups. OSH risks are taken as part and parcel of the job and rationalized by internalizing their employers’ claim to ‘be grateful for the job’. The nature of their employment makes these conditions acceptable because they are temporary workers, which alters their frame of reference, i.e. leads them to accept even worse working conditions than in their home country. These circumstances make workers justify poor working conditions and not report any OSH risks, thus becoming complicit in their own exploitation. Accommodation is also problematic. Posted and temporary workers often live in segregated, overcrowded spaces with poor conditions, separated from local communities. In the South-Western part of Slovakia, where production sites of the automotive industry are located, such accommodations are built specifically for migrant workers. Migrant workers themselves seem to accept cheaper accommodation options provided by employers as a way to minimize their own costs. Poor accommodation affects not only their physical health but also their mental health as they are


S. Danaj et al.

made to live in conditions that promote social exclusion and isolation. Local communities have expressed their dissent to such housing solutions through petitions in which they openly refuse the presence of migrants in their communities. Such attitudes further expose posted workers to social exclusion and isolation in Slovakia. The cross-border mobility and the temporary nature of their employment as posted and temporary migrant workers further contribute to their OSH vulnerability, i.e. the psychological pressures and risks. The interviewed workers, mostly young men, pointed out that being away from home, from their families and friends, was draining. The emotional strain and the insecurity of their precarious employment made them question whether this type of employment was worthy. The stress of working without proper documentation and the fear of being caught and sent back puts even more pressure on irregular migrant workers. The exposure to OSH risks is higher for irregular migrants doing undeclared work (Sargeant & Tucker, 2009). A trade unionist interviewed argued that while enforcing OSH in Slovakia is challenging in general, the case of undeclared work is even more so, as accidents involving irregular migrant workers are not reported. Occupational accidents also reveal that health care benefits in Slovakia depend on the type of visa/ work permit workers have. Without a permit, workers might not have proper or full health care coverage, and if found working illegally they might suffer further consequences, such as fines and in more extreme cases, face deportation. The poor working conditions of posted and temporary migrant workers in Slovakia have recently received much public attention. Following an exposé of the hardships that workers undergo in Slovak factories by a Serbian investigative journalist (Kvašňák, 2017), there has been a change in public awareness. The subsequent public debate and political scrutiny, both in Slovakia and in Serbia, leveraged for closer monitoring of the working conditions of posted and temporary migrant workers by the Slovak labour inspectorate offices.



Posted workers are faced with profoundly distinct national systems in the two receiving countries we discuss in this chapter, Austria and Slovakia. They differ in terms of economic development, institutional arrangements, the welfare state, and their experience with migration. While both countries have transposed all relevant EU posting and OSH regulations, the lived experiences of mobile migrant workers, particularly posted workers, differ substantially in the two countries. Findings based on empirical interview data with public authorities, social partners and workers in both countries, underscore the precarious situation of posted and temporary migrant workers throughout the subcontracting chain. The intricacies of transnational subcontracting pose a substantial challenge to their occupational safety and health (Meardi et al., 2012). Labour migration to Slovakia is a relatively recent phenomenon and the resistance to foreign workers has been quite vocal. Austria has had more experience with

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


labour migration, although recently, more restrictive migration policies are practiced. The tension between national policies to control labour mobility and to respond to local labour market demands has led to the establishment of criteria that link the employment status to the residence status and vice-versa, which makes third-country workers highly dependent on employers and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation (Anderson, 2010). Even in the case of EU workers, subcontractors and employment agencies provide and control entry to the Austrian and Slovak labour markets. In both countries, OSH standards and responsibilities are neglected by employers and workers. As a result, most workers interviewed received limited training and information, insufficient personal protective equipment, and limited or no healthcare coverage. Furthermore, there have been reported cases in which information is purposefully withheld, not only on OSH matters but also on who their direct employer is. Such practices have severe consequences for the OSH of posted workers in terms of information and training provision, protective measures, grievance procedures, and healthcare provision. Most workers were also exposed to language barriers and social isolation, which affected their mental health negatively. The consequences of the neglect of adequate health insurance are discovered predominantly after workers are injured or become sick at work. Hospital expenses and rehabilitation expenses become the burden of the worker. The most vulnerable group within the category of posted workers are third-country nationals, either posted from other EU countries or on work permits, who are often left without any healthcare support in the event of an accident and constantly under threat of losing their job or being deported. Policy implications thus are manifold. First and foremost, there is a need for a better understanding and reflection of the dynamics of this type of temporary crossborder employment, especially when formulating policies. Our two cases indicate that it is quite easy for posted workers to fall through the cracks because of their transnational mobility and temporary status. Therefore, employers that post workers should be monitored more carefully. This also means that fraudulent practices such as irregular documentation and letterbox companies should be investigated and prosecuted in order to minimize risks for workers. In the case of Slovakia, the loopholes for the recruitment of third-country nationals must also be addressed. In both countries, however, attention must be paid not to criminalize workers, who, should they perceive their employment and livelihood threatened, might be less forthcoming in reporting their exploitation to authorities. Recommendations include making sure that employment is regular, providing accessible information for employers and posted workers on OSH matters, and providing an OSH induction to employees. Providing OSH training in the home country before workers are posted is also a crucial recommendation (Danaj & Zólyomi, 2018). Furthermore, the transnational nature of posting requires stronger collaboration among public institutions of the sending and receiving countries at all governance levels in order for any exchange to be useful and any potential intervention to be timely and meaningful. The findings of our research indicate that the temporary cross-border mobility of posting as subcontracted employment has a negative impact on the occupational


S. Danaj et al.

safety and health of posted workers in these two countries. In this chapter, the attention was on the effects of labour fragmentation, cross-border mobility, and temporariness of posted workers. However, enforcement agencies and social partners are also faced with similar challenges in terms of human resources and transnational information exchange and cooperation, which were not covered in this chapter but have been highlighted in recent literature (see e.g. Čaněk, Kall, Lillie, Wallace, & Haidinger, 2018; Danaj & Zólyomi, 2018) and echoed by our interviewees. The interplay between employers and trade unions and migrant workers’ agencies with respect to the occupational safety and health at work of posted/ temporary workers should, therefore, be addressed by future research.

References Alberti, G., & Danaj, S. (2017). Posting and agency work in British construction and hospitality: The role of regulation in differentiating the experiences of migrants. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(21), 3065–3088. Alli, B. O. (2008). Fundamental principles of occupational health and safety. International Labour Organization (ILO). Anderson, B. (2010). Migration, immigration controls and the fashioning of precarious workers. Work, Employment and Society, 24(2), 300–317. Barnard, C. (2009). The UK and posted workers: The effect of Commission v Luxembourg on the territorial application of British Labour Law: Case c-319/06 Commission v Luxembourg, Judgment 19 June 2008. Industrial Law Journal, 38(1), 122–132. Bednárik, R., Kordošová, M., & Urdziková, J. (2017). Prieskum podmienok práce pridelenej cez agentúry dočasného zamestnávania. Správa z výskumnej úlohy [Analysis of employment conditions of temporary agency workers. Research report]. Bratislava: Inštitút pre výskum práce a rodiny (IVPR). Benach, J., Muntaner, C., Chung, H., & Benavides, F. G. (2010). Immigration, employment relations, and health: Developing a research agenda. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 338–343. Benach, J., Vives, A., Amable, M., Vanroelen, C., Tarafa, G., & Muntaner, C. (2014). Precarious employment: Understanding an emerging social determinant of health. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 229–253. Benach, J., Vives, A., Tarafa, G., Delclos, C., & Muntaner, C. (2016). What should we know about precarious employment and health in 2025? Framing the agenda for the next decade of research. International Journal of Epidemiology, 45(1), 232–238. Berntsen, L. (2015). Stepping up to strike: A union mobilization case study of polish migrant workers in the Netherlands. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 21(4), 399–412. Berntsen, L., & Lillie, N. (2015). Breaking the law? Varieties of social dumping in a pan-European labour market. In Market expansion and social dumping in Europe (pp. 43–60). Abingdon: Routledge. Bilcik, V., & Buzalka, J. (2012). Slovakia. In D. Ó. Beacháin, V. Sheridan, & S. Stan (Eds.), Life in post-communist Eastern Europe after EU membership (Vol. 37). London: Routledge. BTB. (2017). The road to Slovakia. Social dumping: This is how it works. BTB investigates. Retrieved from Bust, P. D., Gibb, A. G. F., & Pink, S. (2008). Managing construction health and safety: Migrant workers and communicating safety messages. Safety Science, 46(4), 585–602.

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


Čaněk, M., Kall, K., Lillie, N., Wallace, A., & Haidinger, B. (2018). Transnational cooperation among labour regulation enforcement agencies in Europe: Challenges and opportunities related to the posting of workers. protecting mobility through improving labour rights enforcement in Europe (PROMO). Retrieved December 18, 2018, from downloads/attachments/000/000/829/original/TNC_Report_Challenges_and_Opportunities_ Related_to_the_Posting_of_Workers___Attachements.pdf?1541517385 Caro, E., Berntsen, L., Lillie, N., & Wagner, I. (2015). Posted migration and segregation in the European construction sector. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(10), 1600–1620. Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family. (2018). Mesačná štatistika - Zamestnávanie cudzincov na území Slovenskej republiky [Monthly statistics – employment of foreign workers in the Slovak Republic]. Retrieved May 23, 2018, from zamestnavanie-cudzincov-statistiky.html?page_id¼10803 Chudžíková, A. H., & Bargerová, Z. (2018). Victims of labour exploitation or “illegal” migrants? Ukrainian workers’ labour rights protection in Slovakia. Report for STRONGLAB project. Bratislava: Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK). Cox, A., Fletcher, L., & Rhisiart, M. (2014). Scoping study for a foresight on new and emerging occupational safety and health (OSH) risks and challenges: European risk observatory. Brussels: Publications Office of the European Union. Cremers, J. (2011). In search of cheap labour in Europe: Working and living conditions of posted workers. Brussels: CLR. Cremers, J. (2014). Letter-box companies and abuse of the posting rules: How the primacy of economic freedoms and weak enforcement give rise to social dumping. ETUI Policy Brief, 2014 (5), 1–5. Cremers, J. (2016). Economic freedoms and labour standards in the European Union. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 22(2), 149–162. Cremers, J., Dølvik, J. E., & Bosch, G. (2007). Posting of workers in the single market: Attempts to prevent social dumping and regime competition in the EU. Industrial Relations Journal, 38(6), 524–541. Danaj, S. (2018). Posted work and occupational safety and health: A literature review. Dve Domovini/Two Homelands, 48. Danaj, S., & Sippola, M. (2015). Organising posted workers in the construction sector. In J. Drahokoupil (Ed.), The outsourcing challenge: Organizing workers across fragmented production networks. European Trade Union Institute: Brussels. Danaj, S., & Zólyomi, E. (2018). Occupational safety and health of posted workers: Depicting the existing and future challenges in assuring decent working conditions and wellbeing of workers in hazardous sectors. Vienna: European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research. DATAcube. (2018). Krátkodobá migrácia za prácou do zahraničia (pr3105qr). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from!/view/sk/VBD_SK_WIN/pr3105qr/Kr%C3% A1tkodob%C3%A1%20migr%C3%A1cia%20za%20pr%C3%A1cou%20do%20zahrani% C4%8Dia%20%5Bpr3105qr%5D De Wispelaere, F., & Pacolet, J. (2017). Posting of workers: Report on A1 Portable Documents Issued in 2016 (Rep.). Brussels: Network Statistics FMSSFE, European Commission. Del Castillo, A. P. (2016). Occupational safety and health in the EU: Back to basics. In B. Vanhercke, D. Natali, & D. Bouget (Eds.), Social policy in the European Union: State of play (17th Annual ed.). Brussels: ETUI. Doellgast, V., Lillie, N., & Pulignano, V. (Eds.). (2018). Reconstructing solidarity: Labour unions, precarious work, and the politics of institutional change in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dølvik, J. E., & Visser, J. (2009). Free movement, equal treatment and workers’ rights: Can the European Union solve its trilemma of fundamental principles? Industrial Relations Journal, 40 (6), 491–509. EU-OSHA. (2007). Literature study on migrant workers. Bilbao: EU-OSHA. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from


S. Danaj et al.

European Commission. (2017). European platform tackling undeclared work. Member State factsheets and synthesis report. European Commission: Brussels. European Commission. (2018). Country factsheet: Posted workers in Austria 2016. Greer, I., & Doellgast, V. (2017). Marketization, inequality, and institutional change: Toward a new framework for comparative employment relations. Journal of Industrial Relations, 59(2), 192–208. Guldenmund, F. W. (2000). The nature of safety culture: A review of theory and research. Safety Science, 34(1–3), 215–257. Hantrais, L., & Mangen, S. P. (Eds.). (1996). Cross-national research methods in the social sciences. London: Pinter. ILO. (2016). Promoting fair migration: General survey concerning the migrant workers instruments. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from ed_norm/relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_453898.pdf ILO. (2018). International labour standards on occupational safety and health. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from Kalleberg, A. L. (2000). Nonstandard employment relations: Part-time, temporary and contract work. Annual Review of Sociology, 26(1), 341–365. Kilpatrick, C. (2009). Laval’s regulatory conundrum: Collective standard-setting and the court’s new approach to posted workers. European Law Review, 34(6), 844–865. Kvašňák, L. (2017, February 24). 600 eur za tri mesiace: Ako Srbi pracujú v našich fabrikách [600 euro in three months: How Serbs work in our factories]. TREND. Retrieved December 6, 2018, from Lillie, N. (2012). Subcontracting, posted migrants and labour market segmentation in Finland. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(1), 148–167. Lillie, N., & Greer, I. (2007). Industrial relations, migration, and neoliberal politics: The case of the European construction sector. Politics and Society, 35(4), 551–581. Lillie, N., & Sippola, M. (2011). National unions and transnational workers: The case of Olkiluoto 3, Finland. Work, Employment and Society, 25(2), 292–308. Lingard, H. (2013). Occupational health and safety in the construction industry. Construction Management and Economics, 31(6), 505–514. Manu, P., Ankrah, N., Proverbs, D., & Suresh, S. (2013). Mitigating the health and safety influence of subcontracting in construction: The approach of main contractors. International Journal of Project Management, 31(7), 1017–1026. Manu, P., Ankrah, N., Proverbs, D., Suresh, S., & Callaghan, E. (2009). Subcontracting versus health and safety: An inverse relationship. In H. Lingard, T. Cooke, & M. Turner (Eds.), Proceedings of CIB W099 2009 Conference, 21–23 October. Melbourne: RMIT. Marchington, M., Grimshaw, D., Rubery, J., & Willmott, H. (Eds.). (2005). Fragmenting work: Blurring organizational boundaries and disordering hierarchies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mayhew, C., Quintan, M., & Ferris, R. (1997). The effects of subcontracting/outsourcing on occupational health and safety: Survey evidence from four Australian industries. Safety Science, 25(1), 163–178. Meardi, G., Martin, A., & Riera, M. L. (2012). Constructing uncertainty: Unions and migrant labour in construction in Spain and the UK. Journal of Industrial Relations, 54(1), 5–21. National Labour Inspectorate. (2018). Ročné správy o nelegálnom zamestnávaní. Prílohy za prvý a druhý polrok 2008, za rok 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 a 2018. [Annual reports on illegal work. Tables for the years 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018]. Retrieved April 18, 2018, from Nejedlý, T. (2018). Cudzincov možno vozia do fabrík na Slovensku aj ako vedcov či pedagógov [Foreigners are maybe being hired in Slovak factories also as scientists or pedagogues]. Trend.

8 Labour Mobility and OSH Vulnerability of Posted Workers: The Cases of Austria. . .


sk. January 19. Retrieved May 23, 2018, from Nenonen, S. (2011). Fatal workplace accidents in outsourced operations in the manufacturing industry. Safety Science, 49(10), 1394–1403. Piore, M. J. (1979). Birds of passage: Migrant labour and industrial societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rubery, J. (2015). Change at work: Feminisation, flexibilisation, fragmentation and financialisation. Employee Relations, 37(6), 633–644. Sargeant, M., & Tucker, E. (2009). Layers of vulnerability in occupational safety and health for migrant workers: Case studies from Canada and the UK. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 7(2), 51–73. Scheibelhofer, E., Balogh, E., & Regös, N. (2016). A comparative analysis of the portability of social security rights within the European Union. Hungary-Austria case study. WFS Policy Brief, 4. Retrieved April 6, 2018, from transwel_polb_4-3_2016-revised.pdf Schenker, M. B. (2010). A global perspective of migration and occupational health. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 329–337. Schmatz, S., & Wetzel, P. (together with Sorger, C., & Danzer, L.) (2014). Entwicklungen im Bereich des Lohndumping [Developments related to wage dumping in Austria] (Rep.). LandR Sozialforschung. Sippola, M., & Kall, K. (2016). Locked in inferiority? The positions of Estonian construction workers in the Finnish migrant labour regime. In Labour mobility in the enlarged single European market (pp. 215–240). Emerald Group. STATdat. (2018). Employed by the labour force sample survey [pr0002qs]. Retreieved December 6, 2018, from a c t i o n ¼c o g n o s V i e w e r a n d u i . a c t i o n ¼r u n a n d u i . o b j e c t ¼s t o r e I D ( % 22iB193D1C87387465B954B10BE9F45111D%22)andui.name¼Employed%20by%20the% 20Labour%20Force%20Sample%20Survey%20%5bpr0002qs%5dandrun. outputFormat¼andrun.prompt¼trueandcv.header¼falseandui.backURL¼%2fcognosext% 2fcps4%2fportlets%2fcommon%2fclose.htmlandrun.outputLocale¼en Swuste, P., Frijters, A., & Guldenmund, F. (2012). Is it possible to influence safety in the building sector? A literature review extending from 1980 until the present. Safety Science, 50(5), 1333–1343. Szigetvari, A. (2017, April 15). Lohndumping: Osteuropäer auf Österreichs Baustellen. Der Standard. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from Lohndumping-am-Bau-Oesteuropaeische-Arbeiter-auf-Oesterreichs-Baustellen Tutt, D., Dainty, A. R. J., Gibb, A., & Pink, S. (2011). Migrant construction workers and health and safety communication: Construction industry training board (CITB) – Construction skills. Bircham Newton, King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Tutt, D., Pink, S., Dainty, A. R. J., & Gibb, A. (2013). ‘In the air’ and below the horizon: Migrant workers in UK construction and the practice-based nature of learning and communicating OHS. Construction Management and Economics, 31(6), 515–527. Wadsworth, E., & Walters, D. (2018). Management of occupational health and safety in European workplaces – Evidence from the second European survey of enterprises on new and emerging risks (ESENER-2). In European risk observatory report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Wagner, I. (2015). Rule enactment in a pan-European labour market: Transnational posted work in the German construction sector. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 53(4), 692–710. Woolfson, C., Fudge, J., & Thörnqvist, C. (2014). Migrant precarity and future challenges to labour standards in Sweden. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 35(4), 695–715. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods. London: Sage.


S. Danaj et al.

Sonila Danaj is a Researcher at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria at the Work and Welfare Unit. As a researcher she has worked on projects related to working life, industrial relations and social dialogue. Her research interests include labour migration, posted work, employment relations, the organization and mobilization of migrants, and trade union responses to labour migration. She holds an MA in Contemporary European Studies from the University of Sussex, UK and an MA in Political Science from Central European University, Hungary. She is currently a PHD Candidate at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. Her work has been published by ETUI Publications, Oxford University Press, and the International Journal of Human Resource Management. Katarina Hollan is currently doing her PhD at the University of Manchester, UK. In her dissertation project, she seeks to shed light on links between precarious employment, labour migration and gender and the effect they have on inequalities in access to social and employment rights for precarious temporary migrant workers in Austria, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. She was also a researcher at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna until the end of 2019. In her previous work she looked at a wide range of issues covering gender wealth inequalities, housing policies in Europe and micro simulation modelling. Katarina holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Vienna. Anette Scoppetta is Deputy-Director of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research and manages the team of researchers in the Work and Welfare Unit. Her areas of interest are labour market and social policies, social inclusion, social change processes, social innovation and regional economic development. As senior researcher she has led and contributed with her scientific and policy advise knowledge to many European projects especially at the interface of labour market and social policies, topics on which she has also published extensively. In addition, she has worked continuously with public authorities responsible for active labour market measures at the local, regional, national and EU-level as well as with the private sector and with civil society organisations. Anette holds a doctorate in Social and Economic Sciences from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

Chapter 9

Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational Agricultural Workers in Canada and the UK Ewa Dabrowska-Miciula and Philomena de Lima



In 2017, it was estimated that there were 2.78 million deaths globally attributed to work, an increase from the 2.33 million estimated deaths in 2014. Of the total, 86.3% of these deaths were attributed to work-related diseases with fatal accidents accounting for 13.7% (Hämäläinen, Takala, & Kiat, 2017, p. 4). Migrants are identified as being at greater risk of experiencing adverse occupation health conditions including fatalities due to the nature of sectors (e.g. agriculture, construction, service) in which they are employed which are high risk, involve precarious contractual arrangements and lack health and safety protection and training (Moyce & Schenker, 2018). Occupational health is understood as one aspect of well-being which encompasses physical and mental health overlapping with what has come to be described as the ‘social determinants of health’ (IOM, 2019). Although occupational health and safety (OHS) is only one aspect of migrant health and well-being, it is nevertheless important to acknowledge the centrality of work in people’s lives with both positive and adverse health and other impacts. For TAWs migration is dynamic often involving multiple journeys with health considerations all the way through, for example, rural to urban, before crossing national boundaries from one country to another or indeed crossing multiple national spaces (King & Skeldon, 2010). A growing body of occupational health research

E. Dabrowska-Miciula (*) University of Guelph-Humber, Toronto, ON, Canada e-mail: [email protected] P. de Lima University of the Highlands and Islands-Inverness College, Inverness, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

associated with international migrants and more recent reviews of research consistently highlight their vulnerability to occupational health hazards and injuries attributed to range factors from legal status to specific work conditions (Moyce & Schenker, 2018; Ronda Pérez et al., 2012). A systematic review of studies (Sterud et al., 2018) on the working conditions and occupational health of migrants in Canada and Europe concluded that the majority of studies included in the review were conducted in the United States, Australia and Canada, with only a few in Europe. It examined the extent to which migrants are at a greater risk of experiencing adverse occupational health risks than native workers in Canada and Europe and concluded that some indicators pointed to migrants being at greater risk of experiencing occupational health risks. However, gaps in data, heterogeneous migrant groups and lack of systematically designed cohort studies make it difficult to arrive at decisive conclusions (ILO, 2004; Sterud et al., 2018). The experiences of within segmented labour markets (e.g. characterized by precarious work conditions and low wages) including those associated with the global agri-food business sector have been the subject of much ongoing discussion (Ronda Pérez et al., 2012). Within the agri-business sector (includes the whole chain from growing, processing to selling products), globalisation and the intensification of the neoliberal context of food production has transformed not only the social composition of agricultural labour but also reveals the burden carried by the transnational migrants (Guthman, 2008; Rye & Scott, 2018) in the context of globalised rural spaces (McDonagh, Nienaber, & Woods, 2015). An ageing workforce and high levels of youth outmigration on the unavailability of local labour in sectors such as agriculture are accentuated in the rural North where most seasonal TAWs are employed (de Lima & Wright, 2009; Voaklander, Day, Dosman, Hagel, & Pickett, 2012). Issues of spatial distance, population sparsity and differential access to social and health services combined with precarious work conditions and migration status serve to increase the vulnerability of transmigrant seasonal agricultural workers to social isolation and poor access to social support, health services and social benefits. The metropolitan/urban bias in the global North, in particular, has led to the marginalization of the well-being and health of migrants and minority ethnic groups living in non-metropolitan/rural areas (de Lima, Jean-Pierre, & Campos-Flores, 2017). The geographically distanced new rural places, where TAWs from economically marginalized regions work, allow for the normalization of a two-tiered society in rural localities (de Lima & Wright, 2009; Perry, 2018). These places are rapidly transforming with flows of a volatile workforce prepared to adapt to risks, to accept unknown occupational hazards and to occupy often stressful and unhealthy living conditions. Poverty is a primary driver which mobilizes workers from the South to work in agriculture (e.g. orchards, fields and greenhouses) in the rural North and who often respond to occupational hazards by foregoing their health concerns for the sake of their employment and earning a livelihood (Gertel & Sippel, 2014). Migration scholars have documented extensively the precarious working and living conditions that TAWs are subjected to and the ways in which state-ledexpansion of industrial agriculture, global food trade, and liberalization of open markets have benefitted the advanced rural economies. However, few migration scholars have specifically

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


Transmigrant Workers OHS Low Priority Leading OHS programs focused on domestic labour | Progress due to new Research & Policies I Lack of interdisciplinary collaboration between migrant labour and OHS researchers

Isolated OHS approach in Countries of Origin|

Country of Origin & Transition

Wellbeing Occupational Health of Population

Destination Country: Transitional & Non-Status

Problems with OHS implementation I Stateled expansion of industrical agriculture

Societal & Spatial context | Challenges of Rurality

Precarious Work & Climate Change & new Hazards |Stress | Violence I Instability

Fig. 9.1 Cycle of neglect: transmigrant agricultural workers’ wellbeing in the Global North (modified from Nuwayhid, 2004)

focused on the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) consequences and long-term agriculture-related ill health and occupational injuries disproportionately affecting TAWs in the destination countries and countries of origin on returning (Hennebry, Preibisch, & McLaughlin, 2010). Most of these temporary TAWs leave the host countries of the rural North in poorer physical and mental health than when they arrived (Preibisch & Hennebry, 2011). Despite agriculture being recognized as one of the most hazardous sectors to work in and evidence on the OHS risks associated with agriculture generally, lack of engagement between this research and those researching the occupational health and well-being of migrants is exacerbated by the invisible nature of OHS issues. This has resulted in a lacuna in research addressing the occupational health and well-being of agricultural TAWs (in most cases temporary/seasonal workers) in the rural North. Drawing on Nuwayhid’s (2004) “cycle of neglect” framework (Fig. 9.1) this chapter highlights the barriers to addressing the occupational health and safety of agricultural transmigrant workers based on Canadian and UK experiences. It also identifies transmigrant workers’ well-being focusing on potential protectors and stressors (Table 9.1) in the global rural North. This chapter draws on a multi-method scoping review of peer-review publications and grey literature, using Canada and the UK as illustrative examples to highlight the cycle or neglect that characterizes migrant OHS (Palys, 2008). The data presented includes a literature time frame from 2000 to 2018. The inclusion criteria were research studies focused on the wellbeing and occupational health and safety (OHS) of transmigrant agricultural workers s in Canada and the UK.


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

Table 9.1 Positive facilitators and stressors: TAWs in the global North Factors Sufficient resources

Positive facilitators Sufficient income for family


Emotional support network of family and community

Primal human values

Happiness, relationships, sense of caring, devotion to family

Physical health

Exercise, nutrition, relaxation/ meditation, balanced lifestyle

Autonomy, effectiveness Sense of efficacy

Working conditions/ occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

Some degree of control over their local environment Possibility of self-determination in work, e.g. local farmers can set their own hours and tasks Hierarchy of controls in agricultural hazards, Hazard prevention and training

Feeling of safety in home and environment

Freedom from fear in the community Connections with community

Stressors Insecure work conditions Temporary employment Income instability Away from the family Emotional distress Change of traditional gender roles Devotion to family back home Social isolation and limited social connectivity Limited time for leisure and spiritual practices Poor housing conditions; tied housing Limited access to nutritional food Language and cultural barriers Limited mobility Long hours of work Low or no control over work and working conditions Worse OHS conditions including psycho-social work environment (e.g. bullying and harassment) Greater workload, work without breaks Presenteeism (working while ill/fear of getting sick) Exposure to chemical hazards/pesticides, lack of personal protection equipment, lack of training Critical exposure to climate change (e.g. extreme temperatures) and new hazards Racism, discrimination Threats of repatriation and being blacklisted

Note: data source resulting from the analyses of literature included in this chapter

The chapter begins by briefly highlighting the recurrent OHS issues that emerge in relation to transmigrant workers in the agricultural sector in the global North. It then introduces the concept of the ‘cycle of neglect’ which provides the framework for discussion on TAWs in the agricultural sectors in Canada and the UK. The discussion and concluding section highlights the framework for identifying stressors and addressing migrant wellbeing. An emphasis on social determinants goes beyond the migration-development nexus discourse with its privileging of human capital investments and remittances, by emphasizing the importance of a transdisciplinary and multisectoral approach to understanding and addressing migrant workers’ wellbeing across different inter-relationships with occupational health.

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


TAWs and Occupational Health in Agriculture Workers in agriculture run twice the risk of dying on-the-job compared with workers in other sectors. Fatal accidents in agriculture remained high over the last decade while having decreased in other sectors. ILO: Agriculture: A Hazardous Work (Geneva: 2009)

Instrumental discourses on ‘development’ that predominate in the global North and South both privilege the role of migrants as agents of development assumed to result in a ‘win-win’ situation benefitting both countries of origin and destination (Raghuram, 2009). The health and wellbeing of migrants is far down the priority list in this context where issues such as remittances, security and border controls dominate migration discourses. Addressing the health of migrants across the lifecourse stages and in the context of migration involving multiple journeys with varying risk and protective factors is increasingly recognized as critical to developing an inclusive approach which takes migrant wellbeing and health seriously (Abubakar et al., 2018). Working in agriculture is considered to be one of the most dangerous occupations globally with high levels of workplace accidents involving serious injuries associated with machinery, health impacts of pesticides, extreme weather conditions and agrochemical uses as well as precarious working conditions (ILO, 2011; Shortall, McKee, & Sutherland, 2018). For example, in Canada and the US agriculture which is one of the largest employers of temporary TAWs have the highest rates of occupational injuries and fatalities (Moyce & Schenker, 2018). Similarly, in the UK agriculture with waste and recycling featured as having the worst rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 employees in 2017/18 (HSE, 2018). Farming as an occupation demands a variety of sensorimotor skills in vision, hearing, memory, quick reflexes, ability to make decisions while performing complex and repetitive tasks, and the ability to work with machinery and equipment, pesticides and chemicals (Dosman et al., 2015). Occupational and daily living realities of TAWs in Canada and the UK, as in other localities in the world, depend on growing season demands for long hours of work which often include exposure to extreme weather conditions, animals, working in rural operations with limited access to health resources, and no access to personal protective equipment nor proper training (Donham & Thelin, 2016).


A “Cycle of Neglect”?

Despite the existence of various policy initiatives through organizations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and instruments and agreements through the United Nations (UN) ensuring the rights of TAWs continues to be problematic (ILO, 2004). The neglect of their rights in both the rural South and rural North places agricultural TAWs in vulnerable positions. Despite the documented risks associated


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

with working in the agricultural sector, a discussion of OHS is absent even in the more recent discussions and consultations undertaken by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on migration, agriculture and rural development. Furthermore, occupational health research tends to be limited to considerations within the work domain neglecting the societal contexts in which it is located. The wellbeing and health of TAWs are perceived as their ‘personal’ dilemmas, and the safety conditions and chronic health consequences of working in the agricultural industry in a different nation are their plights. That TAWs require better support to ensure their wellbeing and occupational health while working abroad and upon their return to their home countries is barely recognized. Nuwayhid (2004) uses the concept of “cycle of neglect” to develop a framework to illustrate the lack of impact of occupational health research in influencing policy change in the global South resulting in the neglect of workers’ occupational health. The chapter argues that this framework can be adapted to the current situation of TAWs agricultural workers in the global North. He attributes the “cycle of neglect” in developing countries to occupational health researchers being professionally/ technically isolated by failing to connect with the wider societal and political contexts in which work and health research health generally is located. Nuwayhid (2004, p. 1917) identified two research domains in occupational health: the “internal domain” (workplace hazards, work organization, exposure-disease spectrum, and occupational health services and programs) which he argues receives most attention; and the “external–contextual domain” (social, political, and economic context) of work and health which receives the least or no attention. He highlighted five primary factors that make it difficult to break what he described as a “vicious cycle of neglect” in occupational health in developing countries and hence to make progress. These are: low priority, limited allocated resources, inadequate information and research, poor evidence about significance, and limited allies and partners (2004, p. 1918). For the “cycle of neglect” to be addressed Nuwayhid argues there is a need for occupational health researchers to connect with social scientists from different disciplines, government and non-governmental organizations and other groups (e.g. women, human rights). To achieve these occupational health researchers in the global South have to move from the external domain (i.e. socio-economic and political contexts) where it is an integral component of public health research (as in the global North) to the internal domain to address the specificities (e.g. occupational health) of the workplace, thus facilitating a clearer emphasis on addressing OHS as an important aspect of social justice. A review of research reveals that OHS in the global North regarding TAWs in the agricultural sector can also be characterized as suffering from a “cycle of neglect” (Fig. 9.1). There is growing public health research which has highlighted adverse occupational health issues among migrants generally. Although the OHS hazards associated with sectors such as agriculture generally are well documented, the occupational health of TAWs continues to be neglected in the global North despite its reliance on this labour. There is a major gap in ensuring the long-term health impacts of working in the agricultural sector on the lives of TAWs as it is normally masked or hidden from the public gaze and occupational related health illnesses may

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


not be evident for many years upon their return. This neglect can be attributed to a number of factors (Fig. 9.1). Development paradigms which privilege an instrumental (economic) approach to migrant labour at the expense of ensuring their OHS and wellbeing. The wellbeing of TAWs and their occupational health reflect a wide range of interrelated determinants operating in different locations and different scales which is multidimensional and goes beyond political and socio-economic liberties to include social and legal entitlements of TAWs workers. In addition, climate change has become a critical topic in rural peripheral environments (Schulte & Chun, 2009), which potentially impacts on the wellbeing of TAWs. Most agricultural work takes place in external and internal (e.g. greenhouses) environments which may be subject to extreme temperatures and variable weather conditions (Dabrowska & Neis, 2016). Ill health arising from prolonged exposure to weather and climate related hazards has negative implications for people worldwide. The agricultural workers exposed to UV radiation and hot temperatures are at higher risk of morbidity and mortality (Elinder, Wernerson, & Wijkstrom, 2015; ILO, 2011). The model presented of TAWs’ wellbeing is contained within the occupational health “cycle of neglect” (Nuwayhid, 2004) and is used to frame the findings of the national cases we focus on (Dabrowska, 2017; de Lima, 2017; Hennebry, McLaughlin, & Preibisch, 2015).

9.3 9.3.1

Canada Temporary Agricultural Workers’ Programs Trends in Migration: Agriculture

Canada has relied on Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to fill the labour gaps in skilled and non-skilled occupations for more than 50 years. In 2017, Canada issued over 286,000 work permits to temporary workers, and nearly 45,000 were assigned to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (Statistic Canada, 2018). Canada’s TFWPs are regulated by Employment and Development Canada (ESDC), which defines the types of jobs to be filled each year and the policies and terms of their employment. The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is the longest transnational migration program, which employs groups of circular migrants, who return year after year but without the right to immigrate. Historically, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) program’s first 266 workers arrived from Jamaica in 1966. Mandated by bilateral agreements, known as Memoranda of Understandings (MOU) negotiated between the countries, in 1967, agricultural workers arrived from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. The Eastern Caribbean States, composed of the English-speaking Caribbean Island nations, subscribed to the Program in 1976. Mexico’s Spanish speaking workers joined the program in 1974. Since 2002, with the introduction of the second Stream for Lower-skilled Occupations of the TFWP to complement the SAWP, temporary migrant workers are now hired from almost 80 countries. Temporary migrant workers employed in agriculture arrive primarily from Mexico, Guatemala, the


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

Philippines, Thailand, Jamaica, Nicaragua, India, Ukraine and Vietnam (Statistics Canada, 2018). The annual flow of TAWs into Canada is employer driven, and similar to the USA, employers have been successful in shaping immigration policy to meet their labour needs since the First World War (Griffith, 2007; Preibisch & Otero, 2014). The Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS) is a private, employer-funded and operated organization and is the only regulatory mechanism that is exercised by the agricultural industry. In the case of Guatemala, the Quebec private interest group la Foundation des entreprises pour le recrutement de la maind’oeuvre étrangère (FERME), has responsibility for the regulated migration schemes (Gabriel & Macdonald, 2018). The SAWP programs employ transmigrant workers for up to 8 months a year, and all workers must leave Canada on December 15th of each year, when their work permit expires (Perry, 2018). As an accepted practice in the SAWP, the employer has the right to ‘nominate’ a worker when evaluating the worker’s performance, indicating to the Foreign Ministry of Labour that a specific worker is expected on the farm the coming season. Recently, after the restructuring the Canadian temporary programs, the 48-month cumulative employment duration cap applies to SAWP workers (4 years in /4 years out). The empirical data has documented that although the TAWs intended to address short-term labour demands, TAWs returned to the communities year after year for sometimes for more than three decades. The data clearly indicates that the SAWP is a circular and not only a temporary migration program (Tucker & Sargeant, 2010). SAWP migrants in Canada are not given open work permits that allow movement across employers within a particular industry—they can only work for one employer. This means that if a TAW is fired, this means immediate deportation form the country. The immigration pathway for these ‘low-skilled’ agricultural labours is closed. They experience migrant labour’s temporariness, contingent residency, debt bondages (LeBaron, 2014) and live in constant job insecurity, being afraid of repatriation, intimidated by employers, and afraid of not obeying and being sent back home (Preibisch & Hennebry, 2011). Without any job security or the possibility of appeal to change an employer, the Canadian workers must consent to employers’ requests to work longer hours, labour on weekends, live on the farm site in bunkhouses with other workers and feel obliged to accept their employer’s authority assessing the risks and safety of their working conditions (Perry, 2018). These issues have serious implications which frame not only the conditions of their employment but are critical factors determining their wellbeing and health in Canada. These transmigrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and stress (Gravel, Boucheron, & Kane, 2003; Narushima & Sanchez, 2014). Canada’s projected labour shortage and demographic changes in the future are well documented and demonstrate the constant reliance on labour performed by TAWs. In the Canadian context, agricultural migrant workers’ contributions to $108 billion agri-food business is of high importance (The Conference Board of Canada, 2016). Currently, TAWs make up more than 1 in 10 workers in Canada’s agricultural

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


workforce compared with 1 in 20 a decade ago. The labour shortage in Canada’s agricultural sector will double by 2025 reaching about 113.80 unfilled jobs (The Conference Board of Canada, 2016).


OHS and Migrants in Canadian Agriculture

Our categorization of interdisciplinary approaches to understand OHS of TAWs include: medicine and public health, social determinants of health, governance of global mobility, human rights and equity and economic development and human capital. While this categorization is far from comprehensive, it indicates that analyses of TAWs’ health issues have been extended in varied theoretical frameworks. The main OHS Findings for Canada’s TAWs include a range of occupational health concerns. These are musculoskeletal injuries, agrochemical and pesticiderelated illness, workplace injuries and deaths, heat stress, infectious disease, gastrointestinal problems, exhaustion due to extensive working hours, depression, stress, anxiety, and skin, eye, throat and respiratory irritations, etc. (McLaughlin, Hennebry, & Haines, 2014; Pysklywec, McLaughlin, Tew, & Haines, 2011). Accessing health care is difficult because of language differences, barriers to coverage, fear of termination of employment, fear of repatriation, lack of information and lack of transportation (Mysyk, England, & Avila Gallegos, 2008; Narushima & Sanchez, 2014). It is rare that TAWs receive health and safety training for working with machinery or with fertilizers or lifting heavy loads (Horgan & Liinamaa, 2012). Migrants identified that they do not have enough information or know how to protect themselves from labour hazards (Viveros-Guzmán & Gertler, 2015). Canadian researchers (McLaughlin, Hennebry, Cole, & Williams, 2014) provided a systematic analysis of equity in health protection policy for low-skilled migrant labourers in agriculture who are in the main stages of their transnational journeys. Based on the following quotes from fieldwork in Ontario and Mexico (Dabrowska-Miciula & Campos-Flores, 2018), we noted that, despite almost 30 years of advancement in research, there are still many barriers to occupational health and to accessing health care benefits after a work injury: We have to work under extreme heat conditions. The fumes in this chicken farm are so intensive that we are getting sick after work. What can we do to protect ourselves? Jose’s fingernails are getting deformed. We are buying gloves in the Dollar Store to protect our hands. They do not last for a long time. Can you tell me what can we do to protect our lungs? I do not want to get sick. They are using some kind of chemical there which bothers me. I cannot sleep after work. (Diego, SAWP, Ontario) To be honest with you, I feel these people from the Canadian Insurance Company and the Mexican Consulate lied to me and deceived me. Their decisions took too much time which delayed the surgeries I needed; it was too late. We were in Mexico City during months, having lots of expenses, so the little money they gave me barely covered them. I feel that I was not treated with fairness, they were only concerned about me leaving the country (Canada) and diminishing the amount of the indemnity I had a right to. At the end, I have a hand and an arm which I cannot use. . . it took me a long time to learn how to use my left


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

hand, you know? My wife has been providing for both of us, but it’s not enough. After years, I finally got a job, but life will continue being hard, which I was looking to change by going to Canada, what an irony, don’t you think?” Now I’m useless for them (the people from the SAWP), we are disposable. (Antonio, SAWP, Mexico)

Orkin and colleagues reported that among 787 medical repatriations from Canada during the period 2001–2011, 41.3% workers were repatriated for medical or surgical reasons and 25% for external injuries including poisoning (Orkin, Lay, McLaughlin, Schwandt, & Cole, 2014, p. E192). Toxic exposures, lack of occupational health regulation and enforcement, poor maintenance of hazardous equipment and chronic stress align with high levels of illness among the agricultural migrant population (Brower, Earle-Richardson, May, & Jenkins, 2009). The benefits of the multi-layered framework in studying OHS recognizes the heterogeneity of temporary migration programs, reveals the layered context of these programs for protective labour laws, and in particular for occupational health and safety regulations (Tucker & Sargeant, 2010). Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) employees are particularly vulnerable because their work and visas are always tied to a single, local employer. The TAWs pay income tax and employment insurance and contribute to the Canada Pension Plan. However, their precarious status in Canada and changes to immigration policies have made it difficult for them to exercise their rights and protections under labour laws (Faraday, Fudge, & Tucker, 2012). To date, the research has documented that permanent non-citizen status, cyclical migration, conditions of recruitment, lack of freedom of association and a lack of collective bargaining rights, and discrimination, place TAWs workers in precarious and complex labour situations (Basok & López-Sala, 2016). There are ongoing discourses that a path to granting permanent resident status to TAWs, is a way of improving the protection of their health (Hanley, Gravel, Lippel, & Koo, 2014). The pattern of neglecting TAWs rights results from their global and relative spatial isolation as they “occupy a liminal in-between space, neither fully in countries of origin nor destination” (Hennebry et al., 2015, p. 534).

9.4 9.4.1

Migrant Labour and the Agricultural Sector in the UK Employment of Migrants in Agriculture: Overview

The agriculture sector is a diverse sector which encompasses varied activities (arable farming, horticulture, processing, animal husbandry (i.e. dairy/meat production) labour patterns (seasonal all year round) and occupations and tasks. Transmigrant labour is employed across the agribusiness sector with horticulture (e.g. fruit and vegetables) being most reliant on this source to cope with the additional seasonal demand for labour. A temporary migrant workers’ programme to address the need for additional labour during peak seasons by facilitating the recruitment of

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


international labour migrants to work in agriculture (much of this in the horticultural—e.g. fruit and vegetables—sector) had existed in various guises in the UK since the Second World War, mainly focused on attracting students. Despite aspects of what came to be known as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), changing over the years (e.g. increasing dominance of the horticultural sector, removal of age restrictions), the key principles and conditions of employment remained the same until it was discontinued in 2013. The annual quota issued under the SAWS programme peaked in 2004 to 25,000, from 5000 in the early 1990s. In 2005 the annual quota issued declined to 16,250 but was increased to 21,250 in 2009 in response to sector lobbying. The uptake of SAWS varied between 82 percent and a 100 percent between 2004 and 2012 (MAC, 2013, pp. 49–51). The government’s decision to discontinue SAWS in 2012, was associated with the increasing availability of labour from Central and Eastern European countries as a result of their accession to the European Union in 2004 and who were previously major participants in SAWS. This contrasts with the Canadian context where agricultural TAWs migrants are recruited through temporary workers programmes. In the UK since 2004 the temporary/seasonal TAWs are predominantly EU citizens. With the accession of Eastern and Central European countries since May 2004, the seasonal and permanent labour that the UK agricultural sector has come to rely upon originates from these countries as European citizens who have the right to free movement in the European Union (EU). These include the Accession 8 (A8) countries (e.g. Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) which joined the EU in May 2004, followed by the Accession 2 (A2) countries (e.g. Bulgaria and Romania) in January 2007. Migrant recruitment into the UK agricultural sector includes the following: direct recruitment by employers in country of origin, use of recruitment agencies; recruitment of farm labour supplies at farm gate; and those supplied by gangmasters who may or may not be registered with GLA and where there are most concerns associated with exploitation (Findlay & McCollum, 2013; Rogaly, 2008). Gangmasters are government approved operators based on a fixed number of annual quotas and who have to comply with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) requirements managed by the Border Agency. The operators recruit migrants for their own farms (‘sole operators’) or on behalf of farms (‘multiple operators’) (Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), 2013). Since 2004, the diverse settlement patterns of EU citizens from Central and Eastern migrants beyond metropolitan areas across the UK is well documented (de Lima, Pilar, & Pfeffer, 2012; Jenstch, de Lima, & Macdonald, 2007), as is their employment in predominantly low waged sectors including agriculture and food manufacturing/processing (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011, p. 8). However, obtaining accurate data on seasonal and permanent migrant workers in the agricultural sector continues to be problematic. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) (2018) reported that were 466,200 workers in the agricultural sector in June 2016 with 14% (64,200) estimated to be seasonal, casual or gang workers, of whom the majority were deemed to be from the EU. Following the


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

Brexit vote and the decision to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019, immigration policies and trends in the UK are in a state of flux with the agricultural sector, in particular, expressing concerns about potential labour shortages. The decision to discontinue SAWS was not welcomed by all sectors and concerns about labour shortages led the UK Government in September 2018 to announce a new pilot scheme to recruit 2500 seasonal workers to work in the horticultural sector.


OHS and TAWs in Agriculture

Generally, the lack of OHS research and data on migrants in the UK, but also in sectors (agriculture/horticulture) which are dependent on migrant labour, is widely acknowledged (e.g. Cross, Rhiannon, Hounsome, & Edwards-Jones, 2007) reflecting a vicious cycle of neglect. This can be contrasted with the vast body of published literature on labour migrants which has emphasized their employment in predominantly low skilled sectors characterized by precarity and vulnerabilities associated with various aspects of their status as migrant workers and living experiences in destination societies of the global North. The lack of collaboration across OHS and labour migration scholars reflects a general trend among researchers to operate in disciplinary siloes with regard to both, their research and publications. Within this context, concerns about the OHS of migrants in the UK is visible by its absence with a tendency among OHS specialists to focus on domestic employees. This is amplified by the inability to identify occupational health incidents related to migrants in the data collected by the Health and Safety Executive. The lack of attention given to migrants in OHS research combined with the lack of inclusion of OHS issues in labour migration research focusing on ‘integration’ issues reinforces the neglect of migrant health and wellbeing. The overall responsibility for health and safety at work in the UK rests with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) providing the regulatory framework. Its purpose is “. . .to prevent death, injury, and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities. . .” and the HSE enforcement responsibility includes a wide range of industries including farms (Tombs & Whyte, 2013, p. 68). However, as Tombs and Whyte (2013) highlight, trends toward OHS deregulation in the UK which affects all workers have included, funding cuts, reduction in proactive inspections and an overall decline in number of inspections carried out, fewer inspector employed and significantly an increasing range of industrial activities being defined as “low risk” by the government including agriculture which is known as one of the sectors to have the highest occupationally related rates of fatality, injury, and illness. For example, the fatality rate in agriculture was estimated to be 18 times higher per 100,000 workers than in all other industries in the UK (HSE, 2018). Risk of farmers not only suffering from selfreported reduced physical health but also stress and mental health issues and the prevalence of suicides are all acknowledged as being ongoing issues of concern (Cross et al., 2007). Furthermore, the decline in the work health and safety regulatory

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


framework has occurred at the same time as workers’ rights and organizations have come under attack, leading Tombs and Whyte (2013) to conclude that: In the UK—and we suspect in many more jurisdictions that are currently acknowledged in the literature—workers are now confronted with something that has not been experienced in several generations: a new, institutionalized realpolitik of regulatory regimes from which regulators are absent and any credible threat of enforcement has all but disappeared (p. 75).

Although, the HSE does provide some basic web-based information targeted at migrants about health and safety issues its effectiveness is difficult to assess. The migrant labour literature has extensively documented the factors in the destination societies of the global North that increase the vulnerability of migrants to adverse experiences which may potentially impact on their health. Although making casual connections is problematic, research has consistently highlighted that migrants are most likely to work in sectors and occupations where there are ongoing OHS concerns. In addition, factors from legal status to employment and living conditions intersecting with factors such as gender, age, migration trajectories and journeys are all potential risk factors likely to impact on the health and safety of migrants at work (de Lima, 2017, pp. 86–89). The high levels of reliance and preference for migrant labour in the UK agricultural sector are well documented, citing their positive work ethic, reliability and flexibility and difficulties of attracting domestic labour as the main reasons (Dench, Hustfield, Hill, & Akroyd, 2006). This trend has intensified with the growth of a globalized agribusiness industry (encompassing all aspects of agriculture from production, processing, to distribution and selling), the influence and demands of large multinational retailers on farmers and consumer demands, where the requirements for ‘volume, ‘quality’ and low margins (for growers) has resulted in what Rogaly (2008) describes as ‘intensification of workplace regimes.’ This is characterized by a search for “. . .a certain type of worker who is seeking to maximize earnings, are willing to work hard to closed detailed instructions and available for the amount of time required and no more” (Rogaly, 2008, p. 16). Furthermore, the use of large-scale recruitment agencies to provide the ‘right kind of worker,’ places migrant workers underpressure to perform the ‘ideal worker’ role which can result in risktaking including safety violations, not complaining and sickness presenteeism. Their situation is exacerbated by the precarious nature of their jobs, e.g. insecure contracts, poor pay and working conditions. A self-report study (McKay, Craw, & Chopra, 2006) on the health and safety of migrant workers in England and Wales highlighted a range offactors as potentially impacting on the OHS of migrant workers across different sectors which is also supported by previous studies. In relation to agriculture prevalence of back pain as a consequence of the physically demanding and repetitive nature of agricultural work as well as . . .routine health and safety malpractice in the fresh produce industry and packhouses, such as blocked fire exits and insufficient access to toilet and cleaning facilities, in addition to severe forms of coercion and abuse of workers. These included long working hours, poor living conditions, unauthorised deductions from pay, failure to pay minimum wages and failure to provide health and safety (McKay et al., 2006, p. 143).


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

The study also highlighted self-reported incidents of discrimination including name calling and harassment which the authors “hypothesise that such discrimination might have an impact on worker health and safety where discriminatory treatment combined not just to contribute to stress at work but to an inability to raise concerns about health and safety at work” (McKay et al., 2006, p. 143). More specifically on OHS issues, they cite as major barriers: the experience of health and safety in their country of origin, limited knowledge of health and safety systems and their rights within these systems, lack of understanding of risk, especially where there was a limited proficiency in English, minimal training, a lack of clarity about who was responsible for health and safety especially where workers were employed by labour providers. The work domain does not exist in isolation, it is deeply embedded in the wider societal context. Beyond the workplace research on labour, migrants have consistently highlighted the importance of access and rights to healthcare and social protection, social services and support, accommodation/living conditions and leisure activities in ensuring their wellbeing which may be differentially experienced across spatial contexts. Research has lighted that migrants in rural areas, where TAWs are most likely to be located face particular challenges associated with rurality, largely due to a combination of access to poor quality accommodation, distance and lack of affordable transport, fewer services and resources targeted at meeting the specific needs of migrants. This can be exacerbated by the lack of resources allocated to establishing infrastructures to support migrants and lack of experience among professionals in addressing the specific needs of migrants (de Lima & Wright, 2009; Jenstch et al., 2007).


Discussion and Conclusion

Migrants are predominantly employed in what is described as the “bargain basement of globalization” (ILO, 2004, p. 45) characterized by intense competition and downward pressures on wages and conditions of work in low skill sectors such as agriculture to maintain their profit margins. In Canada and the UK working conditions for TAWs in the agricultural sector are shaped by migration status, conditions of recruitment, physical work conditions and environment, lack of worker’s rights and representation and racism or xenophobia. Beyond the work domain, other factors identified as adversely impacting on migrants is lack of decent accommodation, language and communication barriers, lack of access or rights to social protection, healthcare and social support, adding to the layers of vulnerabilities that impact on migrant workers and their wellbeing (Holliday, Hennebry, & Gammage, 2018). Spatial location, for example, rural areas where TAWs tend to be located, can present additional challenges as highlighted in the chapter. Wainer and Chesters (2000, p. 143) in their study on mental health in rural communities recognized that “lack of control over work and life in general” and “economic rationalism and the information and bio-technology revolutions, are removing the locus of control from rural

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


communities.” These factors are also impacting on the lives of agricultural TAWs in rural areas. Drawing on the literature reviewed, Table 9.1 uses an adaptation of Wainer and Chester’s (2000, p. 145) framework to highlight the positive facilitators of wellbeing and health and potential stressors that need to be addressed if migrant wellbeing is to be addressed and taken seriously. Despite agriculture is widely acknowledged as one of the three most hazardous industries globally (ILO, 2004) including in the Canadian and UK contexts, the OHS and wellbeing implications for TAWs are neglected, impeded by lack of research and data, trends in deregulation, downward pressures on wages and conditions of work and lack of collaborative working across OHS and labour migration researchers. An examination of OHS and wellbeing issues in relation to TAWs agricultural workers in the Canadian and UK contexts in this chapter reveals the persistence of a vicious cycle of neglect despite the call more research and evidence and an acknowledgement that work and societal domains are intrinsically and relationally linked. Increasingly spaces and labour networks of the Global North and South stretch across national spaces characterized by flows of capital, people, knowledge and policies. Yet OHS issues are legislated and implemented at the national level. Although it seems to be difficult to achieve, these challenges underscore the importance of uniting global efforts in changing the unjust structure for the success of a healthy workforce and the global economy. Despite evidence and ongoing concerns related to transmigrant workers’ health and wellbeing associated with their working and living conditions and rights, it continues to be neglected within international policy, despite the existence of instruments agreed at the UN Level. Destination countries including Canada and the UK have yet to ratify the International Labour Organization conventions approved by the UN that pertain to the rights of migrant workers, or the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (UN, 2018). Temporary migrants are largely unable to challenge their realities of working and depend on external help from poorly funded non-governmental organizations and trade unions where they exist (Basok & López-Sala, 2016). Additionally, in Canada, since TAWs migration programs are governed at the federal level, while the provincial ministries define health standards for workers and legislate OHS laws, integrated government strategies are required to ensure the system is effective. A consistent message across the literature reviewed is that migrants are at a higher risk of work-related injuries than native workers with adverse consequences on their physical and mental health. Focusing the lens on the need for protection of transmigrant workers’ rights to safe and healthy work conditions particularly in low-skilled and hazardous occupations such as agriculture may facilitate efforts for a more inclusive emphasis on protecting the rights of all transmigrant workers. Migrant health involves two closely related aspects, OHS associated with their employment and their general health. Evidence supports the inference that migrant workers are more likely to suffer adverse health and mental impacts based on selfreport studies than native populations. However, it is difficult to conclude with certainty the extent to which working conditions and immigrant status combine to


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

impact on the health of migrants. This highlights the need for more comparative and longitudinal research. For transmigrant health and wellbeing to be addressed effectively OHS, public health and labour migrant researchers and policymakers have to collaborate and develop interdisciplinary research and approaches with special attention to spatial, social, economic and political configurations that connect migrant experiences and practices across transnational spaces.

References Abubakar, I., Aldridge, R. W., Devakumar, D., Orcutt, M., Burns, R., Barreto, M. L., et al. (2018). The UCL–Lancet commission on migration and health: The health of a world on the move. The Lancet, 392(10164), 2606–2654. Basok, T., & López-Sala, A. (2016). Rights and restrictions: Temporary agricultural migrants and trade unions’ activism in Canada and Spain. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17(4), 1271–1287. Brower, M. A., Earle-Richardson, G. B., May, J. J., & Jenkins, P. L. (2009). Occupational injury and treatment patterns of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Journal of Agromedicine, 14(2), 172–178. Cross, P., Rhiannon, E., Hounsome, B., & Edwards-Jones, G. (2007). Comparative assessment of migrant farm worker health in conventional and organic horticultural systems in the United Kingdom. Science of the Total Environment, 391(2008), 55–65. Dabrowska, E. (2017). Health and safety of temporary migrant workers in rural Canada. XXVII European Society for Rural Sociology Congress. Online Proceedings, 24–27 July, Krakow. Retrieved from Dabrowska, E. & Neis, B. (2016). Control of agricultural injuries: Weather and climate. National summit on the control of agricultural injury and death in Canada: Transforming today’s science into tomorrow’s prevention. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. AGRIVITA Proceedings (pp. 27–28). Retrieved from pdf Dabrowska-Miciula, E., & Campos-Flores, L. (2018). Ethnicity, race and place Nexus – Understanding migrant and minority ethnic health and welling in rural areas in the EU and Canada. European Journal of Public Health, 28(28), 1. de Lima, P. (2017). International migration: The wellbeing of migrants. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic. de Lima, P., Jean-Pierre, J., & Campos-Flores, L. (2017). Beyond utilitarianism: Migrant wellbeing and mental health in rural areas. XXVII European Society for Rural Sociology Congress. Online Proceedings, 24–27 July, Krakow. Retrieved from de Lima, P., Pilar, A. P., & Pfeffer, M. (2012). Conceptualizing contemporary immigrant integration in the rural United States and United Kingdom. In S. Mark, D. Brown, S. Shortall, J. Vergunst, & M. Warner (Eds.), Rural transformations and rural polices in the UK and US (pp. 79–99). New York: Routledge. de Lima, P., & Wright, S. (2009). Welcoming migrants? Migrant labour in rural Scotland. Social Policy and Society, 8(3), 391–404. Dench, S., Hustfield, J., Hill, D., & Akroyd, K. (2006). Employer’s use of migrant labour: Main report. Home Office Online Report. Retrieved from rdsolr0406.pdf

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


Department for Communities and Local Government. (2011). International migration and rural economies. Report Retrieved from 1854822.pdf Donham, K. J., & Thelin, A. (2016). Agricultural medicine: Rural occupational and environmental health, safety, and prevention. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Dosman, J., Hagel, L., King, N., Koehncke, N., Kirychuk, S., Trask, C., et al. (2015). The hierarchy of control in the epidemic of farm injury. Journal of Agromedicine, 20(3), 360–369. https://doi. org/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1048401 Elinder, C. G., Wernerson, A., & Wijkstrom, J. (2015). Mesoamerican nephropathy (MeN). A “new” chronic kidney disease related to occupational heat exposure with repeated deprivation of salts and water. International Journal of Nephrology and Kidney Failure, 27(8), 2247–2256. Faraday, F., Fudge, J., & Tucker, E. (2012). Constitutional labour rights in Canada: Farm workers and the Fraser case. Toronto: Irwin. Findlay, A., & McCollum, D. (2013). Recruitment and employment regimes: Migrant labour channels in the UK’s rural agribusiness sector, from accession to recession. Journal of Rural Studies, 30, 10–19. Gabriel, C., & Macdonald, L. (2018). After the international organization for migration: Recruitment of Guatemalan temporary agricultural workers to Canada. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(10), 1706–1724. Gertel, J., & Sippel, S. R. (Eds.). (2014). Seasonal workers in Mediterranean agriculture: The social costs of eating fresh. London: Routledge. Gravel, S., Boucheron, L., & Kane, M. (2003). Workplace health and safety for immigrant workers in Montreal: Results of an exploratory study. PISTES: Perspectives Interdisciplinaires sur le Travail et la Santé. 5,1. Retrieved from Griffith, D. (2007). Guest workers, enganchadores, and changing labor relations in US rural communities. Journal of Latino/Latin American Studies, 2(4), 74–86. Guthman, J. (2008). Neoliberalism and the making of food politics in California. Geoforum, 39(3), 1171–1183. Hämäläinen, P., Takala, J., & Kiat, T. B. (2017). Global estimates of occupational accidents and work-related illnesses 2017. Singapore: Workplace Safety and Health Institute. Retrieved from 20Occupational%20Accidents%20and%20Work-related%20Illnesses%202017%20rev1.pdf Hanley, J., Gravel, S., Lippel, K., & Koo, J. H. (2014). Pathways to healthcare for migrant workers: How can health entitlement influence occupational health trajectories? Perspectives interdisciplinairessur le travail et la santé, 16(2), 1–28. Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (2018). Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2018. Retrieved from Hennebry, J., McLaughlin, J., & Preibisch, K. (2015). Out of the loop: (In) access to health care for migrant workers in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17(2), 521–538. Hennebry, J., Preibisch, K., & McLaughlin, J. (2010). Health across borders—Health status, risks and care among transnational migrant farm workers in Ontario. Toronto, ON: CERIS Ontario Metropolis Centre. Retrieved from et_al_2008.pdf Holliday, J., Hennebry, J., & Gammage, S. (2018). Achieving the sustainable development goals: Surfacing the role for a gender analytic of migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45, 2551–2565. Horgan, M., & Liinamaa, S. (2012). Double precarity: Experiences of former seasonal agricultural workers who settle in rural Nova Scotia. Atlantic Metropolis Centre. Retrieved from https://


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

International Labour Organisation (ILO). (2004). Towards a fair deal for migrant workers in the global economy. Publication of the International Labour Office, Geneva. Retrieved from http:// International Labour Organisation (ILO). (2009). Agriculture: A Hazardous work. Publication of the International Labour Office, Geneva. Retrieved from WCMS_110188/lang%2D%2Den/index.htm International Labour Organisation (ILO). (2011). Safety and health in agriculture: ILO code of practice. Publication of the International Labour Office, Geneva. Retrieved from http://www. normativeinstrument/wcms_161135.pdf International Organisation of Migration (IOM). (2019). Social determinants of migrant health. IOM website. Retrieved from Jenstch, B., de Lima, P., & Macdonald, B. (2007). Migrant workers in rural Scotland: “Going to the middle of nowhere”. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 9(1), 35–53. King, R., & Skeldon, R. (2010). ‘Mind the gap!’ Integrating approaches to internal and international migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(10), 1619–1646. 1080/1369183X.2010.489380 LeBaron, G. (2014). Reconceptualizing debt bondage: Debt as a class-based form of labor discipline. Critical Sociology, 40(5), 763–780. McDonagh, J., Nienaber, B., & Woods, M. (Eds.). (2015). Globalization and Europe’s rural region. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate. McKay, S., Craw, M., & Chopra, D. (2006). Migrant workers in England and Wales: An assessment of migrant worker health and Safety risks. London: HSE Books. http://www.hse. McLaughlin, J., Hennebry J., Cole, D., & Williams, G. (2014). The migrant farmworker health journey: States and strategies: Identifying issues and considering change across borders. Policy Points VI. IRMC. McLaughlin, J., Hennebry, J., & Haines, T. (2014). Paper versus practice: Occupational health and safety protections and realities for temporary foreign agricultural workers in Ontario. Perspectives interdisciplinaires sur le travail et la santé, 16, 1–17. Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). (2013). Migrant seasonal workers. Retrieved from https:// 257242/migrant-seasonal-workers.pdf Moyce, S., & Schenker, M. (2018). Migrant workers and their occupational health and safety. Annual Review of Public Health, 39, 351–365. Mysyk, A., England, M., & Avila Gallegos, J. A. (2008). Nerves as embodied metaphor in the Canada/Mexico seasonal agricultural workers program. Medical Anthropology, 27(4), 383–404. Narushima, M., & Sanchez, A. L. (2014). Employers’ paradoxical views about temporary foreign migrant workers’ health: A qualitative study in rural farms in Southern Ontario. International Journal for Equity in Health, 13(65), 1–12. Nuwayhid, I. A. (2004). Occupational health research in developing countries: A partner for social justice. American Journal of Public Health, 94(11), 1916–1921. Office of National Statistics. (2018). Migration Statistics Quarterly Report: November 2018. Retrieved from populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/ november2018/pdf Orkin, A. M., Lay, M., McLaughlin, J., Schwandt, M., & Cole, D. (2014). Medical repatriation of migrant farm workers in Ontario: A descriptive analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2(3), E192–E198. Palys, T. (2008). Purposive sampling. In L. Given (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Sage: Los Angeles.

9 Challenging a “Cycle of Neglect”: Health and Safety Among Transnational. . .


Perry, J. A. (2018). Living at work and intra-worker sociality among migrant farm workers in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 1–16. Preibisch, K., & Hennebry, J. (2011). Temporary migration, chronic effects: The health of international migrant workers in Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 183(9), 1033–1038. Preibisch, K., & Otero, G. (2014). Does citizenship status matter in Canadian agriculture? Workplace health and safety for migrant and immigrant labours. Rural Sociology, 79(2), 174–199. Pysklywec, M., McLaughlin, J., Tew, M., & Haines, T. (2011). Doctors within borders: Meeting the health care needs of migrant farm workers in Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 183(9), 1039–1042. Raghuram, P. (2009). Which migration, what development? Unsettling the edifice of migration and development. Population, Space and Place, 15(2), 103–117. Rogaly, B. (2008). Intensification of workplace regimes in British horticulture: The role of migrant workers. Population, Space and Place, 14, 497–510. Ronda Pérez, E., Benavides, F. G., Levecque, K., Love, J. G., Felt, E., & Van Rossem, R. (2012). Differences in working conditions and employment arrangements among migrant and non-migrant workers in Europe. Ethnicity & Health, 17(6), 563–577. 13557858.2012.730606 Rye, J. F., & Scott, S. (2018). International labour migration and food production in rural Europe: A review of the evidence. European Society for Rural Sociology. Sociologia Ruralis, 58(4), 928–995. Schulte, P. A., & Chun, H. (2009). Climate change and occupational safety and health: Establishing a preliminary framework. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 6(9), 542–554. Shortall, S., McKee, A., & Sutherland, L. A. (2018). Why do farm accidents persist? Normalising danger on the farm within the farm family. Sociology of Health & Illness, 41, 470–483. https:// Statistics Canada. (2018). Temporary Foreign Worker Program 2017Q4 [Data file]. Retrieved from Sterud, T., Tynes, T., Sivesind Mehlum, I., Veiersted, K. B., Bergbom, B., Flyvholm, M. A., et al. (2018). A systematic review of working conditions and occupational health among immigrants in Europe and Canada. BMC Public Health, 18, 770. The Conference Board of Canada. (2016). Sowing the seeds of growth: Temporary foreign workers in agriculture. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from Tombs, S., & Whyte, D. (2013). Transcending the deregulation debate? Regulation, risk, and the enforcement of health and safety law in the UK. Regulation & Governance, 7, 61–79. https:// Tucker, E., & Sargeant, M. (2010). Layers of vulnerability in occupational health and safety for migrant workers: Case studies from Canada and the UK. Policy and Practice in Occupational Health and Safety, 7(20), 51–73. United Nations. (2018). Report of the committee on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families. Retrieved from F i l e s H a n d l e r . a s h x ? e n c ¼d t Y o A z P h J 4 N M y 4 L u 1 T O e b I 8 n s A D z Q 4 K 4 a c O % 2bTitGAcmeVtl1V0rXCOydhwdVMNzsnhp9GP3eOL%2f%2f%2f%2bj0l3hBC% 2fiwvpV4lcR9HuVPAwqFVPo%3d Viveros-Guzmán, A., & Gertler, M. (2015). Latino farmworkers in Saskatchewan: Language barriers and health and safety. Journal of Agromedicine, 20(3), 341–334. 1080/1059924X.2015.1048400 Voaklander, D., Day, L., Dosman, J., Hagel, L., & Pickett, W. (2012). Older farmers and machinery exposure—Cause for concern? American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55(11), 1044–1050. Wainer, J., & Chesters, J. (2000). Rural mental health: Neither romanticism nor despair. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 8(3), 141–147.


E. Dabrowska-Miciula and P. de Lima

Ewa Dabrowska-Miciula is a medical geographer (MSc, Jagiellonian University, Krakow; PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo), certified in agricultural safety by the International Society of Agricultural Safety and Health. She worked as senior lecturer at the University of Alberta and in the Occupational Health and Safety Research Centre at Memorial University, Newfoundland. She is Professor at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, and a Lecturer at the University of Guelph-Humber. Her work and publications focus on rural labour migration, occupational health and safety, rural health and wellbeing, and equity in multidisplinary projects within Canadian provinces. Philomena de Lima is Professor of Applied Sociology and Rural Studies and was the Director of the Centre for Remote and Rural Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands—Inverness College until December 2019. Her research interests include exploring the intersecting relationships between ‘communities of place’ (rural) and ‘communities of interests’. She has applied these interests to the study of topics such as migration and wellbeing, ethnicity and race, belonging/ identities, poverty and social exclusion. She has published extensively on these topics as well as focusing on exploring the policy implications of her research.

Chapter 10

Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of Southern Europe Pedro Francés-Gómez and José María González-González



This chapter explores the relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)—understood as stakeholder management based on shared basic ethical standards—and the responsibilities toward immigrant workers derived from the specific psychosocial risk of these workers. In what follows, the meaning of CSR that we consider relevant will first be clarified so as to later discuss the specific responsibilities that profit-seeking organisations should assume toward immigrant workers with regard to individuals subject to a particular psychosocial risk. First and foremost, it should be noted that our contribution is focused on companies, mainly those which, due to their size, are able to dedicate more resources to the prevention of psychosocial risks. However, under this topic, the social impact of small and medium-sized companies is highly significant since the occupations of immigrant workers tend to be concentrated in highly atomised sectors such as agriculture, construction and services. In this case, the lack of structure to formalise the mechanisms of protection does not mean, in any way, that the obligations to which we refer should not be required of smaller-sized businesses. By focusing on companies and employers, we avoid discussion of the political and legal frameworks in force in each country. We will also avoid the mainly legal question regarding the correct interpretation of the provisions of international humanitarian law, reception law etc. We assume that, regardless of the legal framework, it is a fact that all European societies are, currently, host societies. Citizens, immigrants with different legal statuses (with or without work permits) and immigrants lacking legal status, undocumented, stateless persons, political asylum seekers and others live in them

P. Francés-Gómez (*) · J. M. González-González University of Granada, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

together. Regardless of the causes leading to this situation, immigrants, and especially those lacking a legal status authorising them to work in the same conditions as nationals, are a particularly vulnerable group but are routinely integrated into the labour market: the lack of legal permission certainly does not eliminate the need to work to obtain a sustenance and, moreover, the attitude of companies toward them does not always consist of excluding them from the labour market. From this perspective, it is worth considering what responsibilities companies and employers acquire toward these individuals and how they should responsibly manage their specific psychosocial health risks. This is the aim of our investigation.


CSR as a Moral Aspiration of Organisations

Problems relating to migration, occupational health and safety, economic crisis, unemployment and job insecurity, financial scandals, corporate fraud, political corruption and environmental disasters are generating a debate regarding the role of companies in society that contextualises the analysis of CSR. Companies have a very large impact on the planet, society and lives of many people and good corporate behaviour would play a valuable part in building a better world. By contrast, a more just society, with less inequality and suffering, more respect for diversity and a cleaner environment is unthinkable without the responsible management of companies (Frey & Stutzer, 2001; Kallio, 2007). The relationship between CSR and psychosocial risk is beyond all doubt (Jain, Leka, & Zwetsloot, 2011). The EU Green Paper on CSR stated: “socially responsible practices primarily involve employees and relate to issues such as investing in human capital, health and safety, and managing change”. Psychosocial risk is one of the clearest threats to employee welfare. CSR thus assumes that the proper management of psychosocial risks is one of the first responsibilities for companies. The green paper offered a catalogue of measures to attract and retain qualified employees, one of the greatest challenges to companies in that context; these were some of the measures: “in this context, relevant measures could include lifelong learning, empowerment of employees, better information throughout the company, better balance between work, family, and leisure, greater work force diversity, equal pay and career prospects for women, profit sharing and share ownership schemes, and concern for employability as well as job security.” The question is how to approach diversity management and the marked psychosocial risks of immigrant workers. This chapter sets out some of the measures and strategies that a responsible management policy for the psychosocial risk of immigrant workers ought to shape. This includes recommendations and obligations not covered by law and which are generally not legally imposed. It is therefore appropriate to respond, first, to the question of why companies and employers must take the initiative; why ensuring legal compliance is insufficient.


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


CSR theory and the business model suggested by stakeholder theory (Freeman & Evan, 1990; Phillips, 2003) converge on the idea that, without denying legal obligations, organisations also have obligations based on widely-shared social values and, although this is more debatable, also based on moral aspirations which may obtain universal rational justification. This last point implies conceding a role to organisations which we can designate as moral leadership. This would translate into attitudes such as attending to the needs of the most vulnerable groups; recognising diversity beyond legal dictates; accepting fair demands and agreements even if they are not enforceable, etc. In short, we must say something about why we consider it justified to demand actions and attitudes of companies and employers that would shape a responsible management of the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers, even if the legislation is delayed or there are no mechanisms for its application. The first point usually offered as justification for CSR is that “it is its own reward” in the sense that when organisations assume responsibilities that go beyond legality they typically also ensure benefits which, with a greater or lesser impact on the balance sheet, are desirable: attraction of talent, internal and external reputation, improvement of work climate and, consequently, less conflict and access to certain indices or public and private procurement processes. This opens up capital and business markets, reduces health and absenteeism risks, improves relationships with public authorities and local communities and much more. But it is important to consider such arguments along with a proper moral argument. This is especially valuable in the case of immigrant workers whose status makes the relationship between the corporate policies toward them and the ultimate negative impact on the organisation much more tenuous. It is therefore important to offer a moral argument (Yong, 2016). It must be said that in the field of business ethics the problem of immigrant workers has been addressed relatively little (Geva, 1999; MacKay, 2016). However, as these workers fall into the general category of a vulnerable group, a large amount of consideration and policy proposals would apply (cf. for example Donaldson, 1991, 1992). Business ethics and CSR have not been immune, quite the contrary, to the challenges posed by workers in conditions of extreme vulnerability, for example, in countries without effective legislation to protect them or with regimes that systematically curtail political and labour freedoms such as the right to unionisation, collective bargaining or work safety. Nevertheless, responsibility toward the equally vulnerable workers who have entered a country with more developed legislation is a blind spot. It is assumed that the legislation and authorities in Europe must prevent the most flagrant cases of exploitation and abuse, thus limiting the risks to this group. However, this is not the case. In our case, we propose to take a view of the responsibilities of organisations based on social contract theory (Donaldson & Dunfee, 1999; Sacconi, 2013). The reason is that these theories, inspired by the political theory of J. Rawls, assume a constructivist meta-ethical position, that is, they avoid engagement with views of human beings or society based on metaphysical traditions not necessarily generally shared in pluralistic societies. On the contrary, they attempt to establish moral obligation on premises that may be accepted by all insofar as rational people willing


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

to share a common social space that makes the individual quest for happiness possible. This view coincides broadly speaking with the “political” view of CSR proposed by Scherer, Palazzo, and Matten (2009) or Blanc and Al-Amoudi (2013; cf. also Blanc, 2016), among others. It is particularly well adapted to the context positing the obligations toward those who are immigrants for economic reasons, people who accept living together in a sometimes culturally and ethnically different society but in which they hope to be able to develop a life plan based on their contribution to the collective economic sphere. Two characteristics of this CSR approach are crucial for what interests us here. Firstly, CSR, once its scope has been clarified, it is designed as an independent source of obligations for the organisation, established partly empirically on the basis of the existing social contract—current social norms in relation to how to solve certain circumstances or dilemmas in a morally justified way—and partly based on a relatively simple normative or counter-factual consideration: that described by Rawls as “agreement behind a veil of ignorance.” This last point means that the obligations of justice can be established, in the absence of a clear social convention, by imagining the agreement that those involved in a given situation would have unanimously subscribed to if they were “behind a veil of ignorance”, that is, without knowing “who is who” or imagining that they could occupy any social position (in this case, any position in the organisation). Secondly, this approach is based on denying the “social division of labour” according to which companies in the market should pursue the maximum benefit within the law as a mechanism to reach maximum economic efficiency while other social systems (the political system, legislation, social protection institutions, etc.) attend to social justice. Neither empirically nor theoretically is it possible to decouple the quest for efficiency from the effects it produces on people. As such, a society in which its profit-seeking organisations completely ignore considerations of justice would simply be an insufferable society. These considerations establish the framework for reflection on obligations toward immigrants. The following section details the levels of psychosocial risk of immigrants and the appropriate measures to manage them responsibly. We refer here only to the general basis for these obligations and the general principles upon which they are based. The crucial element provided by the social contract perspective is that the relationship between the immigrant worker and the company is exactly the same as between the citizen worker and the company. In both cases the relationship comes about because it is mutually beneficial. The incorporation of immigrant workers may be more or less beneficial depending on whether they provide non-existing or insufficient qualifications in the host country or help to improve the workforce diversity of the company, etc. It can also obviously be more beneficial for the owners of the firm because immigrants may accept worse working conditions or higher levels of risk than citizen workers. What makes this type of benefit indecent is the fact that the only reason why immigrant workers would accept such an agreement— which should be understood here not as the work contract, where it exists, but as the tacit agreement that includes certain conditions of exploitation or risk as voluntary—


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


is precisely due to their vulnerable condition and the impossibility of using the legal means and social symbolic powers available to citizens. The mental experiment of the contract behind the veil of ignorance tells us two things: first, that we might accept the same type of treatment in that situation (we might therefore come to accept a differential treatment of immigrants, even if we assume that it may be possible for that position to befall us). Second, we would accept it, in effect, only due to being in an inferior situation that nobody would accept voluntarily. This treatment could not be just because given the value to be provided to the company, which is no different from that provided by a citizen, no one unforced to do so would accept it. In other words, the key is that if the value provided is indistinguishable, making the distribution of benefits depend on a factor irrelevant to the relationship, as is the fact of being an immigrant, is only sustained if an asymmetry of power is assumed in which one party forces the other. This confirms that, even if the agreement appears voluntary, it is not a fair agreement. The companies and employers who benefit from the immigrant status of certain workers, much more so if they benefit from the legally precarious condition of these people, are not acceptable as citizens in a just economic system. Company responsibility therefore requires suitable management of the psychosocial risk of immigrant workers, the only way to restore their situation to a condition of equality on which to build mutually beneficial economic relationships as much as possible. The specific implications of this principle depend on the specific risks, which, in turn, depend on the context of each country, the type of immigration, etc. In the next section, we focus our attention on the specific case of immigration in southern Europe and indicate what implications the responsible management of this risk would have.


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Immigrant Workers in Southern Europe

A primary objective of organisations wishing to enhance their ethical profile and social legitimacy is to responsibly manage diversity. We have argued that CSR regarding immigrant workers is also a minimal moral obligation for decent companies. Responsible diversity management is a corporate strategy aimed at developing and integrating cultural, ethnic, religious, social, sexual orientation, age and migratory heterogeneity. Specifically, this diversity management entails implementing internal corporate social responsibility policies that take into account the characteristics, needs and idiosyncrasies of each group comprising the company, including immigrant workers. The psychosocial risks of workers constitute one of the most important needs and responsibilities to manage in organizations given that, despite the legal obligation of companies to care for the mental health of workers, the law, by itself, proves insufficient if it is not accompanied by the internalisation of ethical and moral values and organisational responsibilities.


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

Globalisation of labour markets, deregulation of labour law regulations, softening in the management of human resources and neoliberal evolution of the socioeconomic environment lie at the origin of psychosocial risks and have important consequences on the mental health of workers in general and especially of immigrant workers (Agudelo-Suárez et al., 2009). Responsibly managing the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers entails taking on a series of challenges such as the acceptance and naturalisation of diversity; the cultural, social and occupational integration and normalisation of immigrant workers beyond racism, xenophobia and discrimination in the workplace; the fight against the exploitation, precariousness, instability and occupational vulnerability of the group and; finally, the confrontation of professional development of these immigrant workers. In the next sections, we intend to analyse how these challenges are being addressed as well as the state of the responsible management of psychosocial risks of immigrant workers in the countries of southern Europe that share the same migratory and corporate social responsibility model. We will compare the results of our analysis with the demands of a truly responsible management, as derived from the moral considerations above.

10.3.1 The Socially Responsible Management Model in Spain Studying CSR applied to migratory groups in Spain is interesting because it forms part of a group of European countries along the Mediterranean arc with rather similar cultural and migratory development characteristics. Spain is a country in which CSR is significantly behind other countries in northern Europe, as well as the USA and the UK, as can be seen in the recent Forética report (Silos, 2018) on comparative indices on indicators of sustainability, good governance and CSR. The reason is that, culturally, not enough thought has been given to the formalisation of responsible corporate behaviour. Nevertheless, the Spanish government and business community have been making important efforts in recent decades to encourage CSR in Spanish companies and promote responsible behaviour in environmental and labour issues (Prado-Lorenzo, Gallego-Álvarez, García-Sánchez, & Rodríguez-Domínguez, 2008). This has resulted in the development of several protocols within the E.U.’s common framework on CSR, as well as in the production of the parliamentary subcommittee report which worked in the V legislature with the aim of promoting CSR in companies as an objective of social policy (Informe, 2006). These rules tend to regulate the environmental and social responsibilities of companies; establish a real culture of labour risk prevention in Spanish companies; and promote equality in the workplace between men and women as well as the balancing of family and work life (Bigné, Alvarado, Currás, & Rivera, 2010). Important measures are also being taken against corporate fraud and in pursuit of the integration of migrant groups.


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


Apart from this, the internationalisation of Spanish companies has had a major impact on this process given that CSR has been required in those environments in which they operate beyond our borders. There is currently also a growing number of Spanish companies that believe that they should contribute to sustainable development and plan their operations with a view to favouring economic growth and increasing their productivity and competitiveness while ensuring the protection of the environment and nurturing social responsibility by complying with the general interest (Prado-Lorenzo et al., 2008). This includes occupational health and safety and the integration of migrant groups. In the last decade, several private agencies have also produced reports and created organisations for the observation and control of CSR, as well as for the creation of meeting spaces in which to share models, trends and tools related to CSR (Bigné et al., 2010). Reaching this shared view of CSR shows the maturity of the country, environment and system. This is what we intend to analyse in relation to the responsible management of psychosocial risk prevention in immigrants. In the international European context, and based on the different approaches and developments of the welfare state, we can differentiate several CSR models (Moreno, 2011, p. 99) which, undoubtedly, have an impact on the prevention of psychosocial risks in immigrant workers and which we can summarise as follows: the continental model of sustainability in corporations; the liberal Anglo-Saxon model of business in the community; the social democratic Nordic model of partnerships; and the familial agora-type model of Mediterranean countries. The sustainability-oriented CSR model applied by central European countries emphasises the development of financing, production and corporate marketing strategies which are sustainable temporally, socially and environmentally. The combination of business and worker interests proves to be the fundamental axis of the CSR policies with significant differences appearing in the field of occupational safety and health between people who work in a situation of regularity and those who do not work or do so irregularly. From the liberal Anglo-Saxon perspective, the entire role of CSR falls to companies to fight against unemployment or social exclusion, socio-economic crises, occupational safety and health, migration problems, etc. The individual responsibility of both businesspeople and workers, national or foreign, proves fundamental in the prevention of psychosocial risks from this perspective. In the social democratic approach to CSR, characteristic of the Nordic countries and Holland, partnerships are coordinated that incentivise the social co-responsibility of administrations, companies and organisations of civil society, seeking to combine solidarity and social integration with occupational welfare and economic prosperity for all citizens, national and foreign. In contrast, the agora-type CSR model applied to the countries of southern Europe such as Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal, seeks collaboration in an open space in which a myriad of contributions from civil society, the business community and public authorities occurs. All of it is permeated by a paternalistic stance which implements the prevention of psychosocial risks toward foreign workers as an almost “family” issue.


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

Nevertheless, the different perspectives on CSR discussed share many common elements and characteristics and are consistent with similar motivations and evolutions (Moreno, 2011).

10.3.2 Immigration and Work in Southern Europe Migratory movements are one of the most important demographic, social and occupational phenomena in our contemporary world. For the people involved, these migratory processes involve radical changes in their environments and in their lives as they have to adapt to new perceptions, values and behaviours which, among other things, generate significant challenges and repercussions in their sociooccupational processes of integration. From the point of view of migration, according to the National Institute of Statistics, in 2017 the foreign population residing in Spain (non-Spanish nationality) was 4,419,621, representing 9.5% of the population and thus showing a positive migratory balance. Over a few years, Spain has therefore stopped being a country of emigration to become the destination of a large and diverse number of immigrants from Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and some Asian countries like China, the Philippines and Pakistan, geographically dispersed throughout the country (Ribas-Mateos, 2004). For centuries, a whole series of negative stereotypes and social prejudices related to colonial history in Latin America, as well as war and religious and political conflict with Muslim Arab Mediterranean neighbours from Northwest Africa, has been building up across Spain toward some of the predominant groups in contemporary immigration into the country. Thus, over some decades, Spain has become a receiving nation for immigrants motivated by work-related reasons since maintaining the working-age population in developed Western countries requires a large number of workers not born in these countries and who must come from immigration in the short and medium term. This phenomenon should therefore not be seen as a problem but more as the solution for the sustainability of the system. The socio-occupational sectors in which the immigrant population predominantly conducts its professional activity in the countries of southern Europe are agriculture, construction, hospitality and home care services and care for elderly and sick people. The working conditions of this population carry a high degree of precariousness, temporality, underemployment and occupational segregation. As a result, this situation generates negative consequences on the psychosocial health of these workers and poses problems to socio-occupational integration (Porthé et al., 2010). The immigrant working population in Spain presents workplace accident rates higher than citizens since they work in greater proportion in sectors of risk and in worse safety, hygiene and psycho-sociological conditions, justifying the attention to this vulnerability (Font, Moncada, Llorens, & Benavides, 2012). Considering the business sphere in the countries of southern Europe, the first objective should be to promote the workplace integration of this immigrant


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


population into a globalised, multicultural and cohesive society. We would say that responsible management in relation to immigrants entails considering integration as the main resource for the prevention of labour risks while socio-occupational discrimination and exclusion proves the greatest enemy to the prevention of labour risks. Similarly, insofar as socially responsible corporate management aspires to the combination of the strategic objectives of organisations with ethics, morality and sustainability in business activities, the mental health of immigrant workers becomes a fundamental element (Jain et al., 2011).


Immigrant Workers as a Vulnerable Socio-Occupational Group

We know from the scientific literature that immigrant status increases the vulnerability of people in situations of inequality, discrimination and marginalisation, especially in the workplace (Agudelo-Suárez et al., 2011; González-González & Bretones, 2013). Some of the main indicators of these types of situations have to do with worse occupational health as a consequence of greater exposure to labour risks (Benach, Muntaner, Chung, & Benavides, 2010). The so-called “Ulysses Syndrome”, understood as the psychosocial suffering of immigrants from the migratory grief, fear, discrimination and exclusion that it entails, poses significant obstacles to integration related to language, culture, legal situation and the person’s change in social status (Serrano, Gómez-Arnau, Martínez de Velasco, & Andrada, 2011). Added to this is the precarious emotional support of the social and family group experienced by many immigrant workers; the negative perception of themselves and of the companies at which they work; the experience of vulnerability and helplessness based on the thought of having to withstand any offensive or abusive condition, event or disadvantaged situation so as not to lose the job, even to the detriment of their health; as well as the perception of differences in status and in the treatment between ethnic or national immigrant groups (Alonso, McCabe, & Chornet-Roses, 2010). In the context of companies, human resource management policies are not focused in the same way for all groups of workers. In this respect, it is clear that immigrant workers are exposed to greater psychosocial risks. However, we also cannot generalise within the collective of immigrant workers to the extent that, for example, important differences exist depending on the occupational level of the worker. Those positions that occupy an inferior level in the company’s hierarchical organization chart are more exposed to issues such as lack of occupational autonomy or scarcity of promotion opportunities with exposure to these and many other psychosocial risks decreasing as one climbs the socio-professional ladder (Font, Moncada, & Benavides, 2012). In addition to the influence of social class, the influence of gender also proves highly relevant to the relationship between psychosocial factors and immigration,


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

female immigrant workers being in a worse situation than males. Thus, when developing internal corporate social responsibility oriented toward occupational health, we must be able to gather all such determinants related to occupational category and gender in immigrant workers (Borrell et al., 2008; González-González, Bretones, Zarco, & Rodríguez, 2011).


The Psychosocial Risks of Immigrant Workers Managed in a Socially Responsible Way

While it is true that any event or situation within the immigrant environment can potentially be a stressor, there is no doubt that there are situations in the work setting which, by their nature, may be considered potential sources of psychosocial risk for immigrant workers. In addition, in dysfunctions of a psychosocial nature, the specific concurrence of individual factors, which may be considered elements of vulnerability, as well as factors of an organisational and social nature forming objective risks, are necessary in order for a certain problem to occur in a person or group (Bretones, González, González-González, Delgado, & Sánchez, 2016). Psychosocial factors therefore depend on the interaction between the conditions of the work environment and the personal variables affecting each immigrant worker. In this regard, from the transactional approach to stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, 1986), the perceptual and cognitive factors are considered fundamental mediating variables between the stressor stimulus experienced by the immigrant worker and his or her subsequent emotional and behavioural reaction. Depending on individual factors, a particular stimulus can trigger different emotions depending on the evaluative perception of the immigrant worker regarding the contextual and situational circumstances, as well as his or her coping ability and resources. Therefore, from the transactional conceptualisation, the interaction between environmental and psychological factors is proposed as the fundamental modulator of the relationship between the occupational stress of immigrant workers and personal and organisational welfare. The theories on the work-related stress of immigrants which rely on this transactional, mediating and interactive approach are currently the most important (Peiró, 2001). It is understood from them that stress is experienced as a lack of control caused by the imbalance between the demands of the job and the resources the immigrant worker perceives to face them (Hobfoll, 1998; Karasek & Theorell, 1990). Originally, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) differentiate three evaluative levels of stressful events: an initial cognitive assessment based upon which the degree of threat involved in a certain situation is established; a second assessment in which the individual considers what he or she can do depending on the personal and environmental resources deemed to be available; and a third moment of re-evaluation in


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


which all of these cognitive processes are readjusted based on the new environmental perceptions and situations, as well as their own feelings and the level of effectiveness of the coping strategies implemented previously. We therefore rely in this work on this transactional, mediating and interactive theoretical approach since it suggests that emotions at work are the result not just of the influence of objective situational and environmental factors and variables, but also of the subjective assessment derived from the perceptions and resources of immigrant workers. The main stressors considered in immigrant workers could thus be categorized in the following way. • Individual. Personal characteristics and individual differences which make each worker react differently to similar work environments and situations. Human diversity is explained by the bio-psycho-socio heterogeneity existing in each of us and, given that human beings are integral, not fragmented, psychosocial risks are interrelated with the personal life and social situation of immigrant workers. • Occupational. Of the various roles that a person can play in their professional activity, that of immigrant worker is usually the most explicitly demanding and, on many occasions, the one over which the individual has a lesser degree of autonomy to postpone, modify or negotiate the demands arising from this role. • Organisational. In this regard, organisational health can be said to refer to the levels of physical, psychological and social health of the entire system. From this point of view, we find that there are organisations with better health and wellbeing for immigrant workers than others. Among the main organisational psychosocial risks to be accounted for with regard to the socially responsible corporate management of immigrant workers, underemployment can be highlighted as one of the most important (Blanch, 2012). This is understood as the performance of a job function in which a variable combination of the following characteristics occurs: employment in a position inferior to that of the category itself, terms of commitment (temporary contract, part-time contract, etc.) shorter than that desired by the person and contractual, salary, legal or social protection conditions demonstrably worse than those considered normal in the labour market of each time and place (Landsbergis, Grzywacz, & LaMontagne, 2014). It is also worth mentioning occupational segregation as a fairly common organisational psychosocial risk as immigrant workers predominantly perform low-status and low-qualification jobs. In conclusion, we must consider that there are many highly varied psychosocial factors which can generate psychosocial stress in the workplace for immigrant workers to manage in a socially responsible manner. Nevertheless, there is an important specificity for each individual at a specific time and within a given organisational and social context.



P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

Socially Responsible Corporate Management of the Psychosocial Risks of Immigrant Workers

Responsibly managing the psychosocial risks of a company’s immigrant workers therefore requires developing strategies in accordance with the conditions and peculiarities of each company or organisation, as well as the environment in which the activity takes place. In any case, however, this involves creating a work culture of tolerance and acceptance of diversity, encouraging career development in a fair and egalitarian way and promoting a corporate identity open to difference and respect with people’s heterogeneity (Leka, Jain, Widerszal-Bazyl, Żołnierczyk-Zredab, & Zwetsloot, 2011). As such, the responsible management of psychosocial risks in immigrants involves the following as specific measures: recognising their particularities and vulnerabilities, not exposing them to higher-risk jobs, improving socio-occupational working conditions and balancing them to other local workers, guaranteeing that the work to be performed adheres to the level of skills of the person performing it, providing jobs with meaning and sense, establishing prevention and intervention protocols regarding harassment and discrimination for ethnic, religious and cultural reasons and encouraging socio-occupational integration through orientation, training, promotion of equality, justice and health-monitoring activities (Smith, Hviid, Frydendall, & Flyvholm, 2013).

10.6.1 Socially Responsible Prevention and Intervention of the Psychosocial Risks of Immigrant Workers With respect to the way of preventing psychosocial stress in immigrant workers, it is by eliminating or reducing potential risk factors found in the workplace and, in parallel, providing workers with the skills and abilities necessary to perform their work in a way that allows them to identify and cope with stress (Khodzhiev, Izmerov, & Bukhtiyarov, 2017). Preventive actions in this field of the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers are focused on psychological education through awareness-raising activities and stress management skill acquisition programmes. The same way people are taught to deal with customers, operate machines, manage people, etc., specific training should be provided for their own management in relation to labour demands. Individual intervention strategies regarding the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers are focused, fundamentally, on the cognitive processes of perception, assessment and attribution of both the stimuli and workplace demands and the resources and capabilities available to immigrant workers to confront them. They involve controlling the emotional and affective reactions accompanying situations of stress and psychosocial risk and, ultimately, behaviourally orienting immigrant


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


workers toward the search, learning and issuance of adaptive responses to these situations. Specifically, we can state that the relationship between stress and coping in immigrant workers under analysis is mutually influential insofar as what is thought, felt or done in relation to the stressful situation or context conditions the experience of stress itself and, consequently, affects the coping with the situation or context of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1986; Stone, Helder, & Schneider, 1988). We can mention two general and complementary theoretical approaches within the investigation of coping with psychosocial stress in the workplace which are: the dispositional perspective, which emphasises the style of coping with stress used by each individual by remaining more or less stable over time since it is something of one’s own personality; and the contextual perspective, which stresses the situational and specific strategies that people implement at particular times (Pelechano, 1992). Coping styles would thus be personal predispositions developed in various situations and determinant of the repertoire and stability in time and in the context of the coping strategies of the individual. Similarly, coping strategies are the specific processes used in each context and can change according to the stressful stimuli that trigger them (Felipe & Léon del Barco, 2010; Fernández-Abascal, 1997, 2009). This approach distinguishing between styles and strategies of coping with stress has also been applied to the organisational context and from the work in multiple studies (Dekker & Schaufeli, 1995; Vander Elst, De Cuyper, Baillien, Niesen, & De Witte, 2016). In relation to coping strategies, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) propose two general and attitudinal strategies for addressing a particular stressful situation which are applicable to the group of immigrant workers that are the object of study: 1. Emotional coping: adapting oneself to the problem through the regulation and self-control of the emotions and thoughts generated by the stressful situation. 2. Behavioural coping with the stressor: attempting to change or solve the problem. These authors also propose that people who perceive a threatening stimulus as unavoidable or beyond their control will more likely engage in coping oriented toward managing or regulating their emotional reactions to that situation, seeking to adapt through resignation to facing the problem head-on (Vander Elst et al., 2016). In other words, the person modifies their interpretation of that threatening stimulus or setting that they cannot control, as well as the value that they have for that unavoidable threatening situation. To do so, they develop a series of cognitive resources such as the devaluation of the potential loss, reinterpreting those possible negative consequences in a positive way and using comparative methods with other situations and/or individuals in which the balance is favourable and beneficial for the person. In our case, these are the immigrant workers subject to socially responsible corporate management policies in matters of labour risk prevention (Guerrero, 2003). This type of coping has a high adaptive value to the extent that if the immigrant worker addresses an uncontrolled and stress-generating situation without modifying its meaning and/or assessment, it is possible that it will lead to helplessness and


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

psychological problems (Seligman, 1975), along with dissatisfaction and lack of commitment at work (Vander Elst et al., 2016). From an organisational perspective, socially responsible interventions regarding psychosocial risk factors of immigrant workers are carried out by means of a set of structured activities in which the groups participate in a task, or sequence of tasks, whose objectives are directly or indirectly related to organisational improvement, boosting of health and organizational effectiveness and improving the social functioning of the organisation. The specific organisational measures we can mention for the socially responsible corporate management of the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers could be outlined in the following way (Nobrega, Champagne, Azaroff, Shetty, & Punnett, 2010; Oughton, 2013): • Improvement of working conditions. • Elimination of work overloads. • Flexibility in work schedules according to the situation of the immigrant worker: – – – – • • • •

Choice of shifts. Flexible timetables. Compact work week. Flexibility in permits and leave.

Boosting of social support. Reduction of work uncertainty/insecurity. Increase in the availability of resources. Redesign of positions: – Job enrichment: Autonomy. Feedback. Variety of tasks. Identity of the task. – Broadening of work.

• Formation of work teams with ethnic, racial, social and occupational diversity. • Increasing worker control over the work process by providing them autonomy to: – Make decisions. – Solve problems. – Take on responsibilities. • Adjustment between people and their work environment through selection and training. • Ergonomic adjustments. Adaptation of the job to the demands and requirements of the immigrant worker.

Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .



• Adjustment and control of physical/environmental variables (temperature, lighting, noise, space, decoration, etc.) to the preferences and needs of immigrant workers. • Analysis and negotiation techniques for the professional role clarifying the expectations of the occupants of various interrelated roles and specifying and assigning the responsibilities of each occupational role in a negotiated way. • Clarity, equity and fairness in the processes of the organization. • Pursuit of congruence between individual and organisational values. • Changes in the organisational structure: decentralisation; horizontality. • Changes in leadership and management styles establishing: – Clear lines of authority. – Management by objectives. – Participative management and joint decision-making. • Improvement of organizational communication networks. • Participation and support in the implementation of new technologies. • Social and professional support with counselling services for immigrant workers on issues of the following types: – – – – –

Legal. Financial. Psychological. Health. etc.

• Training in time management, conflict resolution and stress management. • Policies of services adapted to the particularities of immigrant workers: – – – – – – –

Parking facilities. Company canteens. Childcare facilities. Sports centres. Social centres. Social action. etc.

• Inclusion of immigrant workers in workplace health and safety committees in charge of supervision, prevention and intervention in psychosocial risks. • Modification of the culture and/or climate through the strengthening of values, beliefs and attitudes that diminish the perception of the work environment as threatening to immigrant workers. • Programmes for intervention in organisational crisis situations of inter-ethnic worker conflict establishing, among other measures, systems of authority, alternative leadership and coordination, conflict resolution protocols and clarifying responsibilities in the organisation.



P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González


We have posited the responsible management of the psychosocial risks of immigrant workers as an integral part of the obligation of organisations to all their members. This obligation is a moral obligation, beyond legislation, although local circumstances can on occasion make the specific conduct and decisions go in parallel or even question the meaning of some of the legal rules. What distinguishes a responsible attitude such as has been presented here is above all the willingness to accept that the contribution of the workers makes them all equally worthy of the attention and prevention suitable to ensure their psychosocial health. Having accepted this principle, the special characteristics of the immigrant population, their special vulnerability and their special relationship with the labour market generate a series of special needs, resources to cope with the foreseeable stress and specially designed corporate policies. This is certainly integrated into responsible risk prevention policies but we have indicated some initiatives that would be particularly necessary in countries such as those in southern Europe. The beneficial consequences of the responsible management of immigrant workers for the organisation are, among many others, economic and financial stability, improvement of work climate and positive internal and external reputation (Murie, 2007). Even so, we can conclude that the final result of socially responsible corporate management for immigrant workers in matters of psychosocial risk prevention is a feeling of ambivalence in which an expectant idealization and an exciting and motivating view of these issues are dilemmatically opposed. This is tempered by a pragmatic, frustrating and demanding socio-occupational reality that promotes the disenchantment and lack of interest of an increasingly more oppressed group in worse labour conditions and which, moreover, has significant consequences on the mental health of immigrant workers. In short, socially responsible management of the prevention of psychosocial risks of immigrant workers involves important, but necessary, present and future challenges for organisations as well as for society as a whole. Acknowledgment The research for this chapter is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy (AEI) and FEDER UE Funds. Research Project BENEB3 (FFI2017-87953-R).

References Agudelo-Suárez, A., Gil, D., Ronda, E., Porthé, V., Paramio-Pérez, G., García, A., et al. (2009). Discrimination, work and health in immigrant population in Spain. Social Science Medicine, 68 (10), 1866–1874. Agudelo-Suárez, A., Ronda, E., Gil, D., Vives, C., García, A., Ruiz-Frutos, C., et al. (2011). The effect of perceived discrimination on the health of immigrant workers in Spain. Bio Medical Central Public Health, 11(1), 652. Alonso, I., McCabe, A., & Chornet-Roses, D. (2010). In their own words: The construction of the image of the immigrant in Peninsular Spanish broadsheets and freesheets. Discourse & Communication, 4(3), 227–242.


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


Benach, J., Muntaner, C., Chung, H., & Benavides, F. (2010). Immigration, employment relations, and health, developing a research agenda. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 338–343. Bigné, E., Alvarado, A., Currás, R., & Rivera, J. (2010). Latest evolution of academic research incorporate social responsibility: An empirical analysis. Social Responsibility Journal, 6(3), 332–344. Blanc, S. (2016). Are Rawlsian considerations of corporate governance illiberal? A reply to Singer. Business Ethics Quarterly, 263(3), 1052–1150. Blanc, S., & Al-Amoudi, I. (2013). Corporate institutions in a weakened welfare state: A Rawlsian perspective. Business Ethics Quarterly, 23(4), 497–525. Blanch, J. M. (2012). La Psicología del Trabajo ante la crisis del empleo. Infocop, 55, 7–11. Borrell, C., Muntaner, C., Solà, J., Artazcoz, L., Puigpinós, R., Benach, J., et al. (2008). Immigration and self-reported health status by social class and gender: The importance of material deprivation, work organisation and household labour. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62(5), 1–2. Bretones, F., González, R., González-González, J. M., Delgado, A., & Sánchez, E. (2016). El ámbito de la prevención de riesgos laborales está necesitado de investigación. In J. Cañas (Ed.), Guía. Buenas prácticas en Ergonomía aplicada a la Prevención de Riesgos Laborales de tipo Psicosocial (pp. 227–267). Madrid: Secretaría de Salud Laboral y Medio Ambiente UGT-CEC. Dekker, S., & Schaufeli, W. B. (1995). The effects of job insecurity on psychological health and withdrawal: A longitudinal study. Australian Psychologist, 30(1), 57–63. Donaldson, T. (1991). Rights in the global market. In R. E. Freeman (Ed.), Business ethics: The state of the art (The Ruffin series in business ethics) (pp. 139–162). New York: Oxford University Press. Donaldson, T. (1992). The language of international corporate ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 12 (2), 271–281. Donaldson, T., & Dunfee, T. (1999). Ties that bind. A social contracts approach to business ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Felipe, E., & Léon del Barco, B. (2010). Estrategias de afrontamiento del estrés y estilos de conducta interpersonal. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 10 (2), 245–257. Fernández-Abascal, E. G. (1997). Estilos y estrategias de afrontamiento. In E. G. FernándezAbascal, F. Palmero, M. Chóliz, & F. Martínez (Eds.), Cuadernos de prácticas de motivación y emoción (pp. 189–206). Madrid: Pirámide. Fernández-Abascal, E. G. (2009). Emociones positivas. Madrid: Pirámide. Font, A., Moncada, S., & Benavides, F. (2012). The relationship between immigration and mental health: What is the role of workplace psychosocial factors. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 85(7), 801–806. Font, A., Moncada, S., Llorens, C., & Benavides, F. (2012). Psychosocial factor exposures in the workplace: Differences between immigrants and Spaniards. European Journal of Public Health, 22(5), 688–693. Freeman, R. E., & Evan, W. M. (1990). Corporate governance: A stakeholder interpretation. Journal of Behavioral Economics, 19(4), 337–359. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2001). Happines and economics: How the economy and institutions affect human well being. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Geva, A. (1999). Moral problems of employing foreign workers. Business Ethics Quarterly, 9(3), 381–403. González-González, J. M., & Bretones, F. (2013). Pushed or pulled? Entrepreneurial behaviour among immigrants as a strategy to cope with negative social identity. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 20(5), 633–648. González-González, J. M., Bretones, F., Zarco, V., & Rodríguez, A. (2011). Women, immigration and entrepreneurship in Spain: A confluence of debates in the face of a complex reality. Women’s Studies International Forum, 34(5), 360–370.


P. Francés-Gómez and J. M. González-González

Guerrero, E. (2003). Análisis pormenorizado de los grados de burnout y afrontamiento del estrés docente en profesorado universitario. Anales de Psicología, 19(1), 145–158. Hobfoll, S. E. (1998). Stress, culture, and community: The psychology and philosophy of stress. New York: Plenum Press. Informe. (2006). Informe de la subcomisión para potenciar y promover la responsabilidad social de las empresas (pp. 4–121). Madrid: BOE 423, 31 July 2006. Jain, A., Leka, S., & Zwetsloot, G. (2011). Corporate social responsibility and psychosocial risk management in Europe. Journal of Business Ethics, 101(4), 619–633. Kallio, T. J. (2007). Taboos in corporate social responsibility discourse. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(2), 165–175. Karasek, R., & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy work. Stress, productivity, and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books. Khodzhiev, M., Izmerov, N. F., & Bukhtiyarov, I. V. (2017). Examination of social and psychological factors casuing occupational stress in labor migrants. Health Risk Analysis, 3(13), 109–135. Landsbergis, P., Grzywacz, J., & LaMontagne, A. (2014). Work organization, job insecurity, and occupational health disparities. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57(5), 495–515. Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Estrés y procesos cognitivos: El concepto de afrontamiento. Barcelona: Ediciones Martínez Roca. Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1986). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer. Leka, S., Jain, A., Widerszal-Bazyl, M., Żołnierczyk-Zredab, D., & Zwetsloot, G. (2011). Developing a standard for psychosocial risk management: PAS 1010. Safety Science, 49(7), 1047–1105. MacKay, D. (2016). Are skill-selective immigration policies just? Social Theory and Practice, 42 (1), 123–154. Moreno, L. (2011). Agregado del bienestar, responsabilidad corporativa y ciudadanía social. Revista de Responsabilidad Social de la Empresa, 3(3), 91–113. Murie, F. (2007). Building safety: An international perspective. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 13(1), 5–11. Nobrega, S., Champagne, N. J., Azaroff, L. S., Shetty, K., & Punnett, L. (2010). Barriers to workplace stress interventions in employee assistance practice: EAP perspectives. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 25(4), 282–295. Oughton, N. (2013). Managing occupational risk in creative practice: A new perspective for occupational health and safety. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 68(1), 47–54. Peiró, J. M. (2001). El estrés laboral: Una perspectiva individual y colectiva. Investigación Administrativa, 30(88), 31–40. Pelechano, V. (1992). Personalidad y estrategias de afrontamiento en pacientes crónicos. Análisis y Modificación de Conducta, 18(58), 167–201. Phillips, R. (2003). Stakeholder theory and organizational ethics. San Francisco, CA: BerrettKoehler. Porthé, V., Ahonen, E., Vázquez, M., Pope, C., Agudelo, A., Benach, J., et al. (2010). Extending a model of precarious employment: A qualitative study of immigrant workers in Spain. American Journal Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 417–424. Prado-Lorenzo, J. M., Gallego-Álvarez, I., García-Sánchez, I. M., & Rodríguez-Domínguez, L. (2008). Social responsibility in Spain: Practices and motivations in firms. Management Decision, 46(8), 1247–1271. Ribas-Mateos, N. (2004). How can we understand immigration in Southern Europe? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30(6), 1045–1063. Sacconi, L. (2013). Ethics, economic organization and the social contract. In A. Grandori (Ed.), Handbook of economic organization: Integrating economic and organization theory (pp. 112–137). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Responsible Management of Psychosocial Risks in Migrant Workers: The Case of. . .


Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Matten, D. (2009). The business firm as a political actor: A new theory of the firm for a globalized world. Business & Society, 48(4), 577–580. Seligman, M. (1975). Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. Serrano, M., Gómez-Arnau, J., Martínez de Velasco, R., & Andrada, J. (2011). Acculturation stress in immigrant population, migratory mourning and associated comorbidities. European Psychiatry, 26(1), 476. Silos, J. (2018). Informe Forética 2018 sobre la evolución de la RSE y Sostenibilidad. La recompensa del optimista. Madrid: Forética. Smith, L. H., Hviid, K., Frydendall, K. B., & Flyvholm, M. A. (2013). Improving the psychosocial work environment at multi-ethnic workplaces: A multi-component intervention strategy in the cleaning industry. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(10), 4996–5010. Stone, A., Helder, L., & Schneider, M. S. (1988). Coping with stressful events. Coping dimensions and issues. In L. H. Cohen (Ed.), Life events and psychological functioning: Theoretical and methodological issues (pp. 182–210). Newbury Park: Sage. Vander Elst, T., De Cuyper, N., Baillien, E., Niesen, W., & De Witte, H. (2016). Perceived control and psychological contract breach as explanations of the relationships between job insecurity, job strain and coping reactions: Towards a theoretical integration. Stress and Health, 32(2), 100–116. Yong, C. (2016). Justice in labor immigration policy. Social Theory and Practice, 42(4), 817–844.

Pedro Francés-Gómez is Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy University of Granada (Spain). He has held teaching appointments at the Universities Complutense de Madrid, ESADE business School, and UP Comillas Madrid, before joining U. of Granada. He has geld Visiting research position at the Universities of Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Harvard (as Fulbright Visiting Fellow). His research is related to the Social Contract approach to politics, morality and applied ethics, with a focus on applications to Corporate and Economic ethics. He has published about contractarian business ethics in journals such as Business Ethics: a European Review and Journal of Business Ethics. José María González-González is Associate Professor at the Social Psychology Department, University of Granada (Spain). His research interests focus on the analysis of different psychosocial processes, such as social identity, gender or entrepreneurial behavior amongst immigrant groups. He also has an interest in corporate social responsibility and ethical issues related to psychosocial risk of migrant people. His main research papers are related to the psychological and sociological study of these topics.

Chapter 11

An Integrated Approach for Action and Intervention Angeli Santos and Francisco Díaz Bretones

In writing the concluding chapter to this book it seems apt to return to its title which is Health, Safety and Well-being in Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers. Although migration is by no means a new phenomenon from a historical perspective, it’s seeming exponential growth since the 1990s, coupled with the political, socio-economic, cultural and technological changes of the twenty-first century, have created a breeding ground for the proliferation of new work-related hazards for a distinct group of workers—migrant workers—with a new completely new vulnerability profile. In Chap. 2, Bretones underscores the importance of changes to the world of work such as the abandonment of traditional forms of employment for more time and effort intensive work, the appearance of non-traditional contracts of employment, continuous outsourcing, downsizing, the implementation of new work methods and automation, increased competition and globalisation, the widespread application of new technologies and changes in workforce demographics (ILO, 2016), that have led to the emergence of psychosocial hazards that now characterise many of today’s workplaces and occupations. While the concept of new and emerging hazards is no longer strictly speaking ‘new’, these hazards have contributed to the vulnerability of migrant workers in a manner that is distinct from other workers. For other workers, the notion of occupational vulnerability is often tied to poor or precarious working conditions, job insecurity, unsociable working hours and shift patterns, lack of representation, etc. However, we believe that there are other personal and social variables that make migrant workers even more A. Santos (*) University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK e-mail: [email protected] F. D. Bretones School of Labour Relations & Human Resources, University of Granada, Edificio San Jerónimo, Granada, Spain e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 F. D. Bretones, A. Santos (eds.), Health, Safety and Well-being of Migrant Workers: New Hazards, New Workers, Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and WellBeing,



A. Santos and F. D. Bretones

vulnerable, which ultimately force them to seek employment in precarious or vulnerable occupations. Before going into the reasons as to what these personal and social variables might be, it is important to note that their vulnerability is linked to our understanding of the term migrant. Researchers in the field acknowledge there is no consensus on the definition of the term migrant and that the definition has evolved dramatically over the years, so as to include individuals who have moved to another country either voluntarily or otherwise; who may or may not have legal status in that country; and who may remain in that country for a more temporary (seasonal) or long-term duration. A broad understanding of the term migrant worker, its nuances and complexities is important to our understanding of their vulnerability profile. Indeed, the lack of a clear and inclusive definition of the term has, at times, created loopholes in national legislation which have led to their increased vulnerability, as is the case with posted/temporary workers in Austria, for instance, who fail receive adequate health coverage or worker’s compensation following an injury, or temporary foreign workers in Slovakia whose employers are not necessarily required to secure work permits or pay social security contributions. Migrant workers are also personally and socially more vulnerable; they tend to experience social isolation, have a limited network of social resources, lack awareness of the legal and social protection services at their disposal, and often experience difficulties in communication because of lack of fluency in the language, as well as racism and discrimination (Sargeant & Tucker, 2009). It is these personal social variables, coupled with precarious employment conditions and new forms of hazards that have not only made migrants an especially vulnerable group of workers, but led to the creation an entirely new type of worker with a new vulnerability profile. These variables have contributed to what Dabrowska-Micula and de Lima refer to in Chap. 9 as the “cycle of neglect” (Nuwayhid, 2004). Despite the existence of various policy initiatives by international organisations, attention to the external-contextual domain, or the social, political and economic context of work remains scant. In short, occupational health research has failed to bring about effective policy change at the national, political and economic levels that are able to safeguard the migrant worker’s occupational health and well-being. As part of the Springer Nature series on Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-being we have sought to combine perspectives from sociology, psychology, geography, business and public health to shed light on the plight of migrant workers and the working conditions they face, and offer different alternatives to the solution of the migrant workers crisis. The chapters presented have not only provided an in-depth analysis of the risks to work, health and welfare of migrant workers, but highlight the need to take a more macro-level, integrated approach to their effective management. With this in mind, we propose a framework that adopts an integrated approach to the migrant worker question, which requires the cooperation of stakeholders at multiple levels and underscores the importance of taking a life-course perspective to migrant health and well-being as outlined in the chapter by Fujishiro and Hoppe. The framework, termed the integrated organisational approach, was originally


An Integrated Approach for Action and Intervention


developed by Leather, Brady, Beale, Lawrence, and Cox (1999) in relation to the management of work-related violence. We have adapted this framework for the implementation of interventions for migrant workers. As per the original framework, action and intervention is informed by a three-way focus. Preventive strategies are implemented before the worker departs from their home country, and are essentially pre-migration strategies that prepare the migrant to relocate to a different country. Timely-reactive cum-migration strategies depend on the procedures in place to enable the migrant worker to cope with their relocation to the host county, in order to develop their skills and reduce the negative impact associated with being in a new and unfamiliar environment. Post-facto migration strategies aim to offer support to migrants to help them cope with the longer-term aftermath of their relocation and the negative consequences they may encounter in their work or life. In this way, interventions are not only focused on the relocation of the migrant per se. Attention is paid to what can be done before migration occurs, by means of preparation, and after they have relocated to their destination country, by means of after-care, rehabilitation and both personal and organisational learning. In addition, our framework proposes that interventions need to occur at three levels—at the level of the individual, the organisation and the nation or society. This multi-layered and multi-level approach enables researchers, practitioners and policy makers to contribute to the effective management of the migrant worker question. In Table 11.1 we have listed examples of what these activities or interventions may include. Examples of preventive, pre-migration strategies at the level of the individual include taking language classes prior to migration and identifying potential contacts or networks whom the migrant worker may be able to rely on for support once they have relocated to the host country. Upon relocation, it is important that the migrant become part of various community groups, whether they be charitable organisations, faith groups or informal contacts with others in their ethnic community, so as to enable them to adapt and integrate into the new culture. In the longer term, the migrant worker may wish to work towards obtaining formal recognition of any previous qualifications or pursue further education and training opportunities that would enable them to seek better employment opportunities in future. Although it is widely acknowledged that migrant workers remit a large proportion of their income back to their home countries (Raghuram, 2009), it is imperative for their own financial security that they establish some form of savings, in the event that they may have to seek alternative accommodation or even return to their home country. There are many measures that organisations can put into place to facilitate the migratory process for such workers. First and foremost, employers should establish clear and fair employment contracts, making these accessible to migrants from the outset, and ensure that they have read and understood the contract and what is expected of them once employed. This is especially important because we know from research that those who have reported their relocation as being well-planned exhibited better mental health post-migration (Gong, Xu, Fujishiro, & Takeuchi, 2011). It is not unusual, however, that migrants do not have sight of their employment contracts prior to relocation to the destination country, as many employment agencies and agents unscrupulously withhold contracts, passports etc. until


A. Santos and F. D. Bretones

Table 11.1 An integrated approach to interventions for migrant workers



National/ societal

Preventive pre-migration strategies Language tuition Familiarising oneself with the host country Identifying potential contacts/networks in the host county Fair and clear employment contracts

Pre-relocation seminars provided by overseas employment authorities National legislation protecting workers rights

Timely-reactive cum-migration strategies Joining community support or faith groups

Induction training Workplace learning opportunities Acculturation training and interventions People-based HRM practices Occupational health services Access to pension schemes Access and provision of adequate healthcare Social security services provision

Post-facto migration strategies Validation of educational/professional qualifications Pursuing further education/ training

Informal learning opportunities Counselling and other psychotherapeutic interventions Coaching and personal development opportunities

Monitoring of employers duties/ obligations Provision of support services by host country embassies for those who are adversely treated by employers Reporting mechanisms for complaints levied against employers Pathways to establishing permanent residency and citizenship

employees have settled all outstanding debts with the agent/agency. It is the responsibility of employers, therefore, to ensure that agents do not operate in such ways and report them to the relevant authorities when such cases arise. Once the migrant worker is in their destination country, there are many actions and interventions that can be implemented to facilitate their adjustment to their new job and country. Some of these, such as training and workplace learning opportunities, are part and parcel of a people-based approach to HRM advocated by Manuti in Chap. 4, and sociallyresponsible CSR approaches by Francés-Gómez and González-González in Chap. 10. In the event that migrants experience difficulties in coping with the demands of the job, find it difficult to cope with the stresses of living away from family and friends, or feel extremely isolated, counselling and other support services should be provided by employers. It should be noted, however, that such provisions


An Integrated Approach for Action and Intervention


are not exclusively relevant to migrant workers, but should be made available to all employees. Employers should also endeavour to provide coaching and personal development initiatives or informal learning opportunities that will foster the personal development of migrant workers. At the societal level, national governments of sending and receiving countries have a major role to play in safeguarding the well-being of migrant workers throughout the migration process. Governments of sending counties, for example, should provide pre-relocation orientation seminars to migrants prior to travelling abroad so that migrants have some idea of what to expect once they have reached their destination country. It is important however that such seminars are relevant and fit for purpose. Migrant workers should not be excluded from national healthcare or social security schemes, and where these do not exist, basic healthcare should be provided by employers, together with workers’ compensation from accidents or injury at work. In the longer term, governments of both sending and receiving countries can also play a part. Embassies and consulates of sending countries should provide support services for employees who are exploited or endangered by employers, including refuge and practical assistance. National governments of receiving countries should have monitoring schemes in place than regularly conduct inspections or perform spot checks. There should also be reporting mechanisms for migrants themselves to report employers who are in violation of employment or immigration requirements. Moreover, national governments should introduce pathways for permanent residency and even citizenship so that these migrants can be fully integrated into society and their contribution to the nation recognised and valued. We believe that it is imperative that the migrant worker question is tackled using an integrated approach if it is to be effective. Such an approach addresses prevention, timely reaction and rehabilitation and compels responsibility from all the key stakeholders—the migrant, employers and organisations, national governments and wider society. The way is now open for governments and policy makers, organisations, academics and migrants themselves to work towards the implementation of proactive strategies that safeguard migrant workers’ health and well-being, and provide for safer, healthier and more productive work environments.

References Gong, F., Xu, J., Fujishiro, K., & Takeuchi, D. (2011). Exploring the effects of human agency in migration on mental health outcomes among Asian immigrants: A life course perspective. Social Science & Medicine, 73, 1618–1626. International Labour Organization ILO. (2016). Labour migration. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from–en/index.htm Leather, P., Brady, C., Beale, D., Lawrence, C., & Cox, T. (1999). Work-related violence: Assessment and intervention. London: Routledge.


A. Santos and F. D. Bretones

Nuwayhid, I. A. (2004). Occupational health research in developing countries: A partner for social justice. American Journal of Public Health, 94(11), 1916–1921. Raghuram, P. (2009). Which migration, what development? Unsettling the edifice of migration and development. Population, Space and Place, 15(2), 103–117. Sargeant, M., & Tucker, E. (2009). Layers of vulnerability in occupational safety and health for migrant workers: Case studies from Canada and the UK. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 7(2), 51–73.

Angeli Santos is an Associate Professor in Applied Psychology at the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham. She obtained her MSc in Occupational Health Psychology and PhD in Applied Psychology degrees from the University of Nottingham, and has worked in both the UK and Malaysia campuses of the University of Nottingham. Currently, she is programme director for the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology and holds an adjunct senior research fellowship at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Her research straddles the disciplines of organisational and occupational health psychology and business, centred around three themes: occupational health and well-being of migrant workers and human service workers; the assessment and regulation of emotions at work; and barriers and facilitators of career decision-making. She has over 30 publications including refereed journal articles and book chapters in a variety of established journals and book publishers. She has been involved in a number of large-scale public and private sector funded grants, including one on migrant workers in Malaysia funded by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia. Francisco Díaz Bretones is an Associate Professor at the University of Granada (Spain), holds his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the same university. Currently he is Head of the Well-being for Individual, Society and Enterprise (WISE) research group at the University of Granada. Previously, he was associate professor at the University of Tamaulipas (Mexico). He has been Visiting Professor in several foreign universities (University of Western Ontario, Princeton University, Burgundy School of Business, among others). His research interests are focused on worker’s emotions, and especially on disadvantaged social groups such as immigrant workers, among others. He has more than 40 articles published in high impact academic journals with more than 1000 citations overall and 27 books and chapters. Also, he has participated in 12 international research projects with several European and Latin American universities, for example, in a research about Psychosocial Emergent Risks in SMEs funded by the European Commission or the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Strategies in Andalusia project.