Managing migrant workers in a global economy

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Global migration is fast becoming a permanent feature of modern life. The International Labour Organization (ILO) believes that there were over 200 million international migrants of working age in 2013. Of these, 150 million were working or economically active.

In 2015, the number of international migrants worldwide reached 244 million, an increase of 71 million, or 41%, compared to 2000 . Most international migrants are of working age. In 2015, 177 million international migrants were between the ages of 20 and 64.

This is great news for businesses that want access to the best talent. And there are real benefits in having a multicultural workforce. Cultural awareness among workers increases acceptance of different ideas and points of view. These can generate more creative solutions to problems and increase innovation.

Managing hiring risks

Increased mobility in the workforce presents both opportunities and challenges. Regulations vary around the world but hiring people who are not entitled to work in your country will expose you to legal action and financial penalties – not to mention long-term damage to your reputation. Checking the identity of all employees – not just migrant workers – is not just a compliance issue. It has a very real impact on the bottom line.

Many organisations choose to reduce the risk of employing an illegal worker with technology that recognises counterfeit identity documents and can draw data from different sources together to verify identity. Linking landline and mobile telephone numbers, with postal and email addresses, for example, provides real intelligence for an investigation. Fast and accurate criminal record and driving licence checking further reduce exposure to risk. Plus, the right technology gives a detailed audit trail to show that you have taken the necessary steps to check that an individual is who he says he is – and has the right to work in the country.

The global worker is also a consumer

Migration helps fuel the globalised economy.

International workers also have an economic impact on their host countries. They want to buy goods, insure their property, take out mobile phone contracts and sign up to entertainment services. They make a real economic contribution. Traditional identity checking systems focus too much on traditional documents and data – sometimes elements of identity that a migrant worker doesn’t possess. For instance, if the onboarding process for a new phone contract relies on credit data, the majority of the half a million migrant workers in the UK alone will struggle to be recognised. Making it faster and easier to confirm someone’s identity not only helps prove their ‘right to work’ but makes a positive impact on their ‘right to live’.

Make the most of the global talent pools

A genuinely global job market broadens the pool of talent available. This is great for the modern economy but the question is: are your compliance systems and processes ready to embrace it?

There’s no doubt that technology and automated systems can help create a global solution. Having the right processes in place will allow your company to recruit globally – and consistently – without fear of sanctions or increased risk. 


[1] ILO International Labour Conference, 105th Session, 2016

[2] International Migration, 2015. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

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