Migrants at Work
Labour Law and Migration Status: Exploring the Interlinkages
Labour law and migration law frequently intersect. However, there is little sustained academic analysis of these intersections. This research project brings together distinguished experts on both labour and migration law, from a range of jurisdictions, in order to develop this new field of legal scholarship. It also has a strong interdisciplinary dimension, with migration scholars and labour market economists also involved.
Traditionally, labour law and migration law are treated separately, the underlying assumption being that migration law deals with entry and residence in the territory only, while labour law remains unaffected thereby. However, this assumption is false. Migration not only affects the supply of labour, but migration law itself affects the rights of workers, both local and migrant. Most vividly, some migrants are legally precluded from working and irregular migration status may diminish labour rights. Some immigration statuses tie workers to particular employers, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation. The worker protective dimension of labour inspections is increasingly overshadowed by the aim of detecting undeclared work. Migration status intersects with prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as race and gender. Collective labour law comes under strain when disputes arise between migrant and local workers. The project will examine these and related issues, as they manifest themselves in various developed migrant-receiving countries, and at the international and regional level.
The project conceives of the migrant worker in a broad sense, encompassing not only regular labour migrants, but also irregular migrants. It also considers others who are often not acknowledged as labour migrants at all, such as migrant domestic workers, family migrants, migrant EU Citizens, posted workers and intra-company transferees. The research examines diverse national laws and policies, as well as the international and EU norms in the field. The EU dimension is of increasing importance, with the adoption of binding EU Directives on employers’ sanctions and labour migration. In addition, the ILO has devoted increasing attention to migrant workers, as is evidenced in two recent reports (Strengthening migration governance (ILO, Geneva, 2010) and International labour migration: A rights-based approach (ILO, Geneva, 2010)), and its recent Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Human rights law (in particular under the ECHR and European Social Charter) also increasingly has a bearing on these labour law issues. Of note in this regard is the ECtHR case of Siliadin v France, App No 73316/01,  ECHR 545, which held France accountable for its failures to protect domestic migrant workers from forced labour, drawing on relevant ILO standards.
John Fell OUP Research Fund
University of Oxford
Faculty members involved in this project
Alan Bogg: Professor of Labour Law
Cathryn Costello: Fellow and Tutor in EU and Public Law
Anne Davies: Professor of Law and Public Policy
Sandra Fredman: Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the United States
Mark Freedland: Professor of Employment Law