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Identifying Employment-Specific Risks Facing Migrant Workers in the Cleaning Services, Logistics and Private Security Sectors from Asian Nations in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recent estimates of modern slavery confirm that forced labour remains a significant problem for the private sector. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an issue which disproportionately impacts migrant workers, who are often on the frontlines of essential industries. While vital in keeping the economy afloat, many critical sectors continue to be both understudied by researchers and unnoticed by employers. This sector-specific risk study then identifies the labour and human rights risks posed to migrant workers in three important, yet often overlooked, sectors during the pandemic: cleaning services, logistics, and private security.  

To fill this knowledge gap and to improve its targeted programmatic interventions, IOM interviewed key stakeholders and evaluated the presently available social protection initiatives to migrant workers in Asia-Pacific and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to understand policy gaps and factors that increase migrant worker vulnerabilities.   

The study looks into both enduring systemic issues and COVID-induced risks, including the lack of oversight due to contractual arrangements and unforeseen changes to the working arrangements, as contributing factors. With the identified risks, the research then provides tailored and direct recommendations for governments, brands, and employers to protect migrant workers in the cleaning services, logistics, and private security sectors.



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