Migrant labour and low quality work: a persistent relationship

30 June 2021

The marginalisation of migrants at work, especially those in industries and occupations characterised by low wages and low-skilled jobs, is a critical issue for scholarship, policy and practice. While the bulk of migration-related research and theory comes from other disciplines, the insights of employment relations perspectives are particularly valuable in explaining why vulnerability to marginalisation and mistreatment is so persistent for these groups of migrants. We explore this issue by reviewing the reasons why migrant workers, especially newly arrived and temporary migrants, are more vulnerable than other groups of workers, examining worker-focused, employer-focused and state-focused scholarship on this issue. After providing an overview of the articles published in the Journal of Industrial Relations special issue on ‘Migration and Work’, which relate to the theme of the persistent relationship between migrant labour and low-quality work, this introductory article uses insights drawn from our review to propose an agenda for future research.