Labour Rights

Employee’s identification, travel papers and/or other documents are withheld


The risk of exploitation and forced labor increase significantly when employers withhold travel documents and other identity documents. This is particularly true for migrant workers who are often subject to poor working and living conditions. Migrant laborers may also be denied the right to take part in trade union activities, or enjoy social services provided by the State.


The rights of migrant workers are varied but involve similar rights enjoyed by nationals of the State of employment. Migrants have to be afforded safe working conditions, trade union representation, medical care provision, among other rights. These rights are contained in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which was adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/158 of 18 December 1990.  Article 25 of the Convention establishes that migrant workers shall enjoy treatment not less favourable than that which applies to nationals of the State of employment in respect of remuneration and other conditions of work and terms of employment. Article 26 recognizes the right to take part in meetings and activities of trade unions and freely join them. Article 28 grants migrant workers and members of their families the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life or avoidance of irreparable harm to their health on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the State concerned.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990
ILO Convention concerning Migration for Employment, 1949 (No. 97)
ILO Convention concerning Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions), 1975 (No. 143)
ILO Recommendation concerning Migrant Workers, 1975 (No. 151)
ILO Convention concerning Forced Labour, 1930 (No. 29)
ILO Convention concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour, 1957 (No. 105)



SDG 8.8

Ensuring that identity and other important documents are respected contribute to SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments of all workers, including migrant workers, particularly women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

SDG 10


SDG 10.7

Companies respecting migrant worker rights support the achievement of SDG 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.