Maintaining labour migration in essential sectors in times of pandemic: EMN and OECD Inform #3


Download File

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the substantial measures taken by EU and OECD countries to stem the spread of the virus are having direct and indirect impacts on the migration field. While the long-term consequences are difficult to predict, the immediate impacts are already visible. For example, the sudden plunge in economic activities significantly reduced the demand for work in sectors where migrant workers are disproportionately employed in many Member States, e.g. in the tourism or hospitality sector. For many firms across the economy, international recruitment was suspended or reduced, in light of economic uncertainty, restrictions on travel, and the shift to telework. At the same time, as the result of travel restrictions imposed, several countries experienced labour shortages, particularly in seasonal agricultural work.

This Inform covers third-country nationals who planned to enter the EU and migrants entering non-EU OECD countries as workers in some essential sectors (e.g. health- and care-workers, auxiliary hospital staff, agricultural workers etc.) as well as those already residing on a temporary or renewable basis in the EU and other OECD countries. EU mobile citizens are excluded from the scope of the EMN’s mandate, and thus also from this Inform. The Inform examines whether workers in certain occupational sectors – essential or otherwise – were exempted from general mobility restrictions at the external and internal borders of the EU or in non-EU OECD countries, resulting from policies to contain the pandemic. In addition, it reviews the measures implemented as a response to the COVID-19 crisis at national level to facilitate the entry into the territory and access to the labour market of migrant workers in essential occupations/sectors. The Inform reviews cases where undocumented third-country nationals in the EU have been offered a possibility to regularise their status for employment specifically in essential sectors. Finally, the Inform focuses on measures for seasonal agricultural workers given their importance to that sector in many countries.

This Inform is part of a series of Informs addressing topics that explore the impact of COVID-19 in the field of migration. Other topics include;

  • managing residence permits and migrant unemployment;
  • the impact of COVID-19 on international students in EU and OECD Member States;
  • reduction or loss of remittances;
  • and impact on return procedures.
Author(s):European Migration Network, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Publisher:Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
Publication Date:21 Oct 2020
Go Back