Migrant working in a crucial sector
Migrant working in a crucial sector

Migrants in the Front Line

The effects of COVID-19 measures on migrant workers who are employed in the key sectors

Migrant workers carry out essential work in key sectors. During the coronavirus crisis, their labour has urgently been required in order to keep the economy afloat. However, it is not always possible to adhere to coronavirus measures in these sectors; for example, think of a cleaner who works in a hospital who runs the risk of becoming infected. Sometimes the language barrier poses problems for these people when administering medical care or explaining precautionary measures, which is why this group runs a greater risk of infection. The employment status may also be unstable if the migrant worker is a freelancer, which is why the protection of this group requires urgent attention.

Risks for health and labour

An interdisciplinary research team is examining the health and labour risks to which migrant workers have been exposed as well as the opportunities that the coronavirus crisis has offered for improving the protection of migrant workers. Innovations in both the medical sector and manufacturing chain are also being sought in order to reduce the key sectors’ dependence on these vulnerable migrants. Migrant workers often work and live in cross-border regions, which is why this research will focus on the border regions of the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia. This study will investigate the effect of existing regulations and coronavirus measures with respect to migrant workers in the key sectors and the impact of the global health crisis and the subsequent measures on both migrant workers and employers in the key sectors. The research looks into

  • The effect of current regulation and coronameasures, with regards to migrant workers in crucial sectors;
  • The impact of the global health crisis and the measures against it on migrant works in crucial sectors;
  • The impact of the current health crisis on essential workers.


Report Expert Meeting Migrant Workers in the Frontline (pdf, 2 MB)

Lange, T. de & Mantu, S. & Minderhoud, P. (2020). Symposium on COVID-19, Global Mobility and International Law. Into the Unknown: COVID-19 and the Global Mobility of Migrant Workers: doi:10.1017/aju.2020.62.


This project is funded by ZonMw.


Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.