Migrants face different challenges when they settle in their destination countries, including their entry into the labor force. Studies such as CEPAL (link in Spanish) indicate that irregular migrants are more likely to experience poor working conditions and be employed in low-skilled jobs. Including those who obtain a regular status, in some countries, migrants receive salaries below the average of nationals.
To better understand the labor conditions of migrants in Central America, the Central American Integration System (SICA), in conjunction with IOM and UNHCR, developed a baseline study on migration and displacement in the SICA region (link in Spanish), where they are addressed, among other issues, labor discrimination. The study indicates as a relevant finding that labor exploitation is often not conceptualized as a violation of human rights, but only as an administrative offense, which circumvents the corresponding penalty and facilitates the perpetuation of the issue.
According to the study, another consequence of the precarious work for most migrants in the region is the lack of access to social security. One the one hand, this is due to the economic cost involved, as they first need to obtain a regular immigration status which entails certain expenses. On the other hand, the more ‘informal’ that their employment is, the less likely it is to be connect to social security benefits.
The legislation and working conditions of people vary from country to country. To address the challenges of labor migration, the study by SICA, IOM and UNHCR (link in Spanish) proposes several courses of action so that states can collaboratively and comprehensively address the integration of this type of migratory flow including irregular migration, labor discrimination, social security and regional integration. Some of the actions recommended by the study are:
To discourage irregular labor migration
• Support countries in ratifying the ILO Migration for Employment Convention (No. 97) and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143), as well as adopting the ILO Migration Statistics Recommendations (No. 19).
• Analyze national labor markets to identify areas with deficits or surpluses of trained personnel.
• Strengthen the collection and exchange of information on the needs of labor markets, with approved regional variables.
To address labor discrimination
• Implement policies against discrimination and xenophobia.
• Strengthen instruments to ensure the protection of the rights of migrant workers.
• Promote mechanisms of social, labor, and cultural integration of migrants in destination countries.
To facilitate access to social security and the protection of migrants
• Support countries in the ratification of the Multilateral Social Security Agreement (link in Spanish).
• Promote internal legislation that protects migrants’ rights to social security.
• Design social security schemes that respond to the specific needs of migrants and their families.
To facilitate regional integration of labor migration
• Facilitate the exchange of labor migration information between countries in the region.
• Promote mechanisms (or include spaces in existing mobility agreements) that allow intra-regional labor mobility.
In addition to these key actions, the study includes contributions to address labor discrimination specifically with indigenous migrants and LGBTI + populations, who may experience a greater precariousness in their working conditions. This information can be accessed via this link (in Spanish).