Labour migration

Experiences of ASEAN migrant workers during COVID-19: Rights at work, migration during the pandemic, and remigration plans (Second assessment)

This study – conducted from mid-October to December 2020 – is a follow-up to the initial assessment undertaken in March and April 2020.

Briefing note | 02 July 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected migrant workers worldwide, exacerbating the challenges they faced before the pandemic and creating new obstacles for migrant workers seeking to improve their lives and livelihoods. As of February 20 2021, Indonesia and the Philippines reported the highest numbers of infections within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, with Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam reporting relatively low numbers of cases and related deaths. Myanmar, since August 2020, and Malaysia, since October 2020, have seen a steep increase in cases, emerging as the newest coronavirus hotspots in Asia. Cambodia and Thailand were experiencing a “third wave” in March and April 2021, whereas Singapore and Brunei Darussalam had contained the spread as of
February 2021. Overall, ASEAN governments responded quickly with rapid containment actions, including mobility restrictions and communication efforts to alert the public about safety measures and the need for COVID 19 testing, although testing capacity varied.

The ILO conducted an initial rapid assessment survey from late March to the end of April 2020. This study – conducted from mid-October to December 2020 – is a follow-up to the initial assessment and focuses on migrant workers in countries of destination. While the first assessment looked into the emerging information, protection needs and working conditions resulting from the pandemic, this assessment will look deeper into specific issues, such as wages and the impact of COVID-19 on working hours, layoffs and COVID-19-related stress.