Labour Studies Index

Employer-sponsored temporary labour migration schemes in Australia, Canada and Sweden: Enhancing efficiency, compromising fairness?

Document type Article
Author Wright, Chris F.
Author van den Broek, Diane
Author Groutsis, Dimitria
Journal Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume 43
Date 2017-08-18
ISSN 1369-183X, 1469-9451
Pages 1854-1872

Abstract

For governments concerned with enhancing labour market efficiency, employer-sponsored temporary labour migration schemes have become increasingly popular. However, the equity implications of these arrangements, which constrain the mobility of migrant workers, have largely been ignored. This paper assesses the factors affecting the vulnerability of employer-sponsored migrant workers and addresses the question of whether these schemes comply with ethical principles relating to fair treatment. It draws upon migration ethics, political economy and socio-legal perspectives to evaluate visa schemes in Australia, Canada and Sweden. The paper argues that there is an ethically justifiable case for selectively restricting certain rights of migrant workers within clearly defined parameters. However, policies facilitating worker mobility, restricting sponsorship to higher-skilled occupations, promoting enforcement and worker representation, and providing accessible opportunities for permanent residency and citizenship help to ensure that employer-sponsored temporary labour migration schemes comply with ethical principles relating to the fair treatment of workers.