Employers urged to take extra care of migrant workers as Covid-19 continues to spread overseas

Source: 1News

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to grip the world, a charity is calling for employers to take extra care of their migrant staff in New Zealand. 

Diversity Works New Zealand says employers need to take into account migrants may be worried about family and friends battling the virus in their home countries. 

“Personally, I have experienced high levels of anxiety and guilt in respect of my elderly parents who are not in an environment where they are safe from the virus," chief executive Maretha Smit says.

"I worry about not being able to visit them in the event of a crisis, and I have started a bad habit of having my phone next to my bed in order to be available across the time zones if necessary – which does not always make for a good night’s rest.” 

Some say New Zealand's success and curbing it's Covid-19 outbreaks has contributed to a "massive disconnect" from how others overseas are being impacted by the pandemic. 

Migrants, particularly with old or vulnerable family members still living overseas, are constantly concerned about them contracting the virus, according to psychologist Matthew Kalloor. 

Without the ease of travelling between countries, those living in New Zealand have felt largely cut off from their connections back home as costs of flights skyrocket. 

"In situations where family members are away, individuals face arduous travel or make the 'choice' of not travelling at all. Thus creating a sense of guilt for having moved away from family in the first instance." 

The pandemic has created a significant disruption to migrants' "individual autonomy", which Kalloor says has been one of the most "devastating" flow-on effects of Covid-19. 

A lack of autonomy can leave members of the public feeling hopeless, unable to improve the situation for their families on the other side of the world.

Making the effort to check in with employees who have family overseas is one of the main ways that companies can look after their migrant workers, according to Diversity Works. 

Helping to refer them to other organisations that can help and taking in to account that workers might be staying up all hours into the night to talk to family can help to reduce the stress felt by staff.

Kalloor says it's also important to realise that the pandemic is hitting migrants in different ways. So, making sure to discuss ways of assisting employees will help to ease the pressure they feel.