HR Policies for Labour Migrants: A Process still in its Infancy?


The aim of this article is to explore HR policy areas that are applied for migrant labour, independent from the type of hiring or recruitment. The author discusses a series of opinion surveys, dedicated to these areas, among these workers in the Netherlands. The literature often speaks about a dichotomy in HR policies between the ‘high road’ and the ‘low road’. The ‘high road’ is characterised by a ‘humane’ policy, while the ‘low road’ is instrumental. The surveys lead to the conclusion that, in many (user) undertakings, the recruitment of labour migrants is left to the planning department, resulting in an instrumental approach. The complete absence of dignity and care is characteristic for a ‘hard’ HR approach, a fate that migrant workers share with other marginalised labour market groups. At the same time employers glorify the 'work ethic' of migrant labour, without further attention for the motives that brings them to the Netherlands. The contribution ends with a plea for a more active role on the part of HR management in the deployment of labour migrants.

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