Chapter 2: How many different minimum wage rates should there be

2.6 Sub-minimum wages for migrant workers

Certain countries have separate minimum wage rates for migrant workers. In some cases, these sub-minimum wage rates are justified on the basis of payments received in kind – particularly in the domestic work sector (see chapter on domestic work and in-kind payments).

In other cases, while a separate minimum wage may not be explicitly set for migrant workers, migrants may be considerably over-represented in sectors with the lowest minimum wages. In both instances, there are concerns surrounding potential violation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Article 25.1 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, recognizes the right of all migrant workers to enjoy treatment not less favourable than that which applies to nationals of the State of employment in respect of remuneration.

The ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration, 2006, confirms that all international labour standards apply to migrant workers, unless stated otherwise, and makes explicit reference to Convention No. 131. Moreover, under Article 6 of the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97), the 315 countries that ratify the Convention must apply treatment to migrants lawfully within their territory that is no less favourable than that which they apply to their own nationals regarding remuneration, in so far as such matters are regulated by law or regulations, or are subject to the control of administrative authorities.1 (For more information, see the General Survey on minimum wage fixing 2014, chapter 4, section 5.4.)

1 ILO General Survey 2014 on minimum wage systems, pp. 95–96