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Migrant workers in precarious employment

Hui Zhang (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Luciara Nardon (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Greg J. Sears (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 17 September 2021

Issue publication date: 18 March 2022




Various forms of precarious employment create barriers to the integration and inclusion of migrant workers in receiving countries. The purpose of this paper is to review extant research in employment relations and management to identify key factors that contribute to migrant workers' precarious employment and highlight potential avenues for future research.


The authors conducted a narrative literature review drawing on 38 academic journal articles published between 2005 and 2020.


The authors’ review suggests that macro- and meso-level factors contribute to the precarious employment conditions of migrant workers. However, there is a limited articulation of successful practices and potential solutions to reduce migrant work precarity and exclusion. The literature on migrant workers' precarious employment experience is primarily focused on low-skilled sector (e.g. agriculture, hospitality, domestic care) jobs. In addition, few studies have explored the role of worker characteristics, such as gender, class, ethnicity, race and migration status, in shaping the experience of migrant workers in precarious employment.

Practical implications

The results of this research highlight the importance of engaging multilevel actors in addressing migrant employment precarity, including policymakers, employers and employment agencies.


This research contributes to a growing conversation of migrant employment precarity by highlighting the heterogeneity of migrant groups and calling for the use of intersectional lenses to understand migrant workers' experiences of precarious employment.



The authors are thankful for the feedback provided by the Associate Editor Dr. Rupa Banerjee and the anonymous reviewers. This project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), grant number 892-2020-0001.


Zhang, H., Nardon, L. and Sears, G.J. (2022), "Migrant workers in precarious employment", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 254-272.



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