Social Innovation Stories


Supporting migrant workers during Covid-19 crisis

Migrant workers crisis in India is not just about economic inequality, but social too. In many states, migrant workers have had to live in inhuman conditions without proper wages and social security as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Members of the Indian Staffing Federation (ISF) sought to help this particular category of workers by ensuring that they keep formal work opportunities and the associated social rights.

  • #Fair Recruitment & Migration

  • #Decent Work & Fighting Informality

  • #Active Labour Market Policies

  • #Job Mobility

  • #Covid19

The challenge

Migrant workers In India are usually engaged in unskilled and semi-skilled work as daily wagers, casual labour, contract workers, etc. Only a small proportion would come into the category of skilled workers. Also, only the settled migrant workers are unionised and get better wages. Migrant workers therefore suffer greatly from economic and social inequality.

The Covid-19 crisis further aggravated the situation of migrant workers. Migrant workers who were locked down in the state they lived were unable to go to the state they usually work, leading to a loss of manpower for certain companies. At the same time, those workers were now available to fill positions in the state they were present.

Unorganised workers were also put in a difficult situation, depending on government subsidies which only came in a few months into the crisis.


Members of the Indian Staffing federation (ISF) explored various locations and identified migrants from all over the country, who were willing to reverse migrate. The migrants were redeployed back to the industries which were gradually moving out of lockdown. ISF members ensured all associated costs of travel and living for migrants and also guaranteed wage and social security.

Key numbers


million unorganised workers potentially gaining social rights


The actions by ISF members not only allowed for migrant workers to keep working and companies to continue find staff, it also supported ISF’s objective to increase formalisation in the Indian labour market. About 390 million unorganised workers can be brought under the ambit of social security through staffing companies.

ISF’s staffing companies could support in the following:

  1. Sourcing workforce from rural and semi urban India

  2. Providing deployment services which takes care from training/skilling to providing employment

  3. Providing total employment solution/options to employers including stay arrangements (dormitory benefits, food arrangements, security, transportation, lodging benefits, and medical/vaccination benefits) at labour camps

  4. Ensuring group medical and insurance coverage for all employees.

Country/ies of implementation
  • Local governments