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Legal Seminar Series

How to Ensure Labour Rights of Undocumented Migrant Workers in a Changing Economy

6 – 13 – 20 – 27 October 2021

14:00 – 16:00 CET

English, Français, Español

Undocumented workers have rights and protections under a variety of international, regional and national legal frameworks – as human beings, as workers and employees, and when victims of crime. This includes rights under several EU laws, including, for example, the right to working conditions which respect health, safety and dignity, with limited working hours and rest periods (Charter of Fundamental Rights), the right to unpaid wages and effective complaints mechanisms (Employers Sanctions Directive), and the right for the relevant financial guarantee institution to take over (with limited liability) outstanding claims in the case of employer insolvency (the Employers’ Insolvency Directive), as well as the rights, supports and services for victims, when victims of crime, including trafficking in human beings (Victim’s Directive, Anti-Trafficking Directive).


But they face significant challenges in exercising their rights in the workplace, whether through criminal courts, civil courts and employment tribunals, or complaints mechanisms of inspection authorities. This hampers efforts to ensure decent working conditions, to prevent and provide a remedy for exploitation, and ultimately to reform sectors in which exploitation of workers and undeclared work are widespread.


Critical barriers include, among others, fears and risks of immigration enforcement and retaliation from fraudulent employers, difficulties to provide sufficient proof, as well as inadequate access to information about their rights, legal advice and representation. Some workers face additional barriers because of gaps in labour law protections and accountability mechanisms for particular types of work or employment relationships, for example, when working as au pairs, domestic worker or sex worker, or when employed through recruitment agencies or online platforms.


This seminar series will equip practitioners and advocates with the tools to strengthen their defence of the rights of undocumented workers. More specifically, the aims of the series are to:


  • Support legal professionals and advocates of migrants’ rights and workers’ rights to use international and EU laws to claim undocumented migrants’ work-related rights


  • Learn from different national contexts and strategies to strengthen protection of undocumented workers’ labour rights in law and in practice;


  • Critically and strategically assess the use of criminal law remedies for undocumented workers;


  • Explore the various legal frameworks that establish accountability and liability of employers, including in situations of sub-contracting and recruitment chains.


ETUC-ILO-PICUM Legal Seminar Series


Week 1: Wednesday 6 October 14.00 – 16.00

Undocumented workers’ rights as “workers” or “employees” under EU law and international law

Photo of Lieve Verboven
Lieve Verboven

Director of International Labour Organization’s Office for the EU and the Benelux countries 

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Lieve Verboven is the Director of the International Labour Organization’s Office for the European Union and the Benelux countries.

Ms Verboven has built international and national expertise of over 20 years in social dialogue, conflict resolution and collective bargaining. Before joining the ILO Office in Brussels, Ms Verboven worked as a Federal Labour Mediator at the Belgian Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue chairing joint committees at sectoral level between representative worker’s and employer’s organisations and acting as conciliator in collective labour disputes.

She previously joined the ILO as a Social Dialogue Expert in Senegal, focussing her efforts on promoting social dialogue in French-speaking African countries. She has also gained working experience in Mediation and Labour Relations in Alberta, Canada.

Lieve holds a Master of Law from the Catholic University of Leuven (KULeuven, Belgium) and a specialized Master of European Law from the Free University of Brussels (ULB, Belgium).

Photo Ludovic Voet
Ludovic Voet

Confederal Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

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Before being elected as Confederal Secretary at the ETUC’s May 2019 Congress, Ludovic Voet was national youth leader of the Belgian CSC union from July 2015. As President of Young CSC, he was responsible for the development of young people’s action within the union organisations (federations and local unions), external representation, organising, affiliation and lobbying.

Ludovic’s responsibilities at the ETUC cover sustainable development and climate change, migration, youth policy, non-standard work and the platform economy, education and training, and equality and non-discrimination, plus organising.

His trade union activity started as a student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). From 2006 to 2011 he was active in the Federation of Francophone Students (FEF), helping to mobilise other students to take collective action. He took part in the campaigns that led to a reduction in higher education costs in the French part of Belgium in 2010. He also supported the student campaign against the French government’s proposed law to enable employers to fire young workers – a proposal which was subsequently withdrawn.

In 2011, completing his studies, Ludovic participated in the major trade union demonstration in opposition to Belgian government austerity policies, and resolved to make a career in defending workers’ rights. In December 2012 he was appointed as local youth leader for the CSC Mons-La Louvière area.

Vera Pavlou

Lecturer, Glasgow University School of Law

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Vera is a Lecturer in Labour Law at the University of Glasgow since 2018. Before joining Glasgow, she was a Research Fellow at Goethe University in Frankfurt and before that, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain.

Vera holds a PhD in Law from the European University Institute in Florence, where she also received the 2017 Mauro Cappelletti prize for the best thesis in comparative law. Since 2019, Vera is a member of the European Equality Law Network on gender equality.

Vera’s work focuses on the intersection of migration and labour law in a European and comparative law perspective. Her working languages are Greek, English, Spanish and Italian.


Publications (selected)

Pavlou, V. (2021) Migrant Domestic Workers in Europe: Law and the Construction of Vulnerability, Hart Publishing, ISBN 9781509942374 (In Press)

Pavlou, V. (2020) Whose equality? Paid domestic work and EU gender equality law European Equality Law Review, 2020(1), pp. 36-46.

Pavlou, V. (2018) Where to look for change? A critique of the use of modern slavery and trafficking frameworks in the fight against migrant domestic workers’ vulnerability European Journal of Migration and Law, 20(1), pp. 83-107.

Pavlou, V. (2018) Percorso di lettura: la dottrina femminista del diritto del lavoro Giornale del diritto del lavoro e di relazioni industriali, 159(3), pp. 709-714.

Pavlou, V. (2016) Migrant domestic labour and models of immigration and employment law regulation: a comparative perspective of Cyprus and Spain Revista de Investigaciones Feministas, 7(1), pp. 149-168.

Pavlou, V. (2016) Domestic work in EU law: the relevance of EU employment law in challenging domestic workers’ vulnerability, European Law Review, 41(3), pp. 379-398.

Katerine Landuyt
Katerine Landuyt

Legal Specialist on labour migration, Labour Migration Branch of the Working Conditions and Equality Department, ILO Geneva.

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Ms. Katerine Landuyt has worked at the ILO since 1995 in the field of ​​international labour standards, gender equality and non-discrimination, and rights of migrant workers

Prior to joining the Labour Migration Branch (MIGRANT) in 2018, she worked for several years within the Department of International Labour Standards (NORMES). Before joining NORMES, Ms. Landuyt was responsible for managing a project on trafficking of women and children in the Mekong region and coordinated the production of an Information guide on discrimination and exploitation of women migrant workers, within the Gender Promotion Programme. Before joining the ILO HQ in Geneva, Ms. Landuyt worked in the ILO Multidisciplinary Advisory Team for South East Asia and the Pacific, based in Manila.

As a Legal Specialist in Labour Migration Policy in MIGRANT, Ms. Landuyt provides strategic advice and technical support to ILO constituents and organizes trainings on gender and migration, labour standards, legal frameworks governing labour migration or bilateral agreements.  She is also the focal point for the Arab States. Ms. Landuyt has serviced the ILO supervisory bodies, including at the annual International Labour Conference, and provided policy and technical advice on ILO standards relating to non-discrimination and equality, and migrant workers.

As an ILO official, Ms. Landuyt manages project activities and produces research and learning tools on ILO standards, equality and non-discrimination, workers’ rights of migrants, including those in an irregular situation, and the migrant pay gap, among others. Ms. Landuyt works in close collaboration with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Week 2: Wednesday 13 October 14.00 – 16.00

Undocumented workers’ rights: in law and practice: National case studies

20170111 Jan Knockaert werkt voor OR.C.A. een organisatie die klachten behandelt van mensen zonder papieren die geen loon krijgen voor hun werk, of die een arbeidsongeval meemaken en daarvoor niet worden vergoed
Jan Knockaert

Coordinator, FAIRWORK Belgium


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Jan Knockaert is since 2010 coordinator of FAIRWORK Belgium. Where he assists undocumented migrants in claiming their labour rights with a focus on wage theft and labour accidents. On the bases of the reality of undocumented migrant workers he is responsible for the advocacy work to make labour rights for undocumented migrants a reality. He is also member of the board of PICUM.

Next to the earlier mentioned work FAIRWORK Belgium has an empowerment project for undocumented migrant domestic workers and au pairs. To make them aware of their labour rights and assist them in claiming them but also to give them the opportunity to inform en empower themselves.

Laurie Berg
Laurie Berg

Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, and Co-Director of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative

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Dr Laurie Berg is Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, and Co-Director of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative. Over the past decade she has led numerous national and global research teams on migrant workers’ access to justice, responsibilities of business, technology for migrant empowerment, migrants’ housing rights and most recently, the impact of COVID-19 on temporary migrants. She is the author of the first monograph on temporary labour migration in Australia: Migrant Rights at Work: Law’s Precariousness at the Intersection of Immigration and Labour published by Routledge in 2016.

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Susanne Kimm

Legal Counsellor, UNDOK 


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Susanne Kimm is a political scientist and lawyer and works as a legal advisor with UNDOK – drop-in center for undocumented workers.

Laura Huizar
Laura Huizar

Immigrant Worker Justice Program Director, National Employment Law Project. 

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Laura Huizar joined the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in 2015 and currently is NELP’s Immigrant Worker Justice Program Director.

Previously, Laura supported NELP’s efforts to create a good jobs economy by providing legal and technical assistance to local, state, and national campaigns to raise the minimum wage and to enforce federal overtime regulations and other protections. Her work has included supporting campaigns around the country defending local policies from state preemption, expanding local authority to adopt pro-worker policies, and contributing to research on the abuse of preemption. In her previous role as Legal Director of the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) Joint Project with NELP, Laura oversaw and coordinated the LSSC’s legal work focused on deploying proactive legal strategies to help communities resist and reverse state preemption laws.

Laura’s background includes a variety of social and economic justice-related work, including an Equal Justice Works Fellowship at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, where she represented immigrant workers in low-wage jobs in litigation and assisted community groups seeking policy change. As a Marvin M. Karpatkin Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program, Laura supported litigation and conducted legal research related to debtors’ prisons, the school-to-prison pipeline, and other major sources of racial injustice in the U.S. Before attending law school, Laura worked for JUNTA for Progressive Action in New Haven, Connecticut, focusing on local economic development and immigrant worker advocacy.

Valued for her expertise on living and minimum wage and immigrant worker issues, Laura has been quoted by Bloomberg, New Republic, CBS News, Newsweek, and more. Laura is admitted to practice law in New York and the District of Columbia.

Week 3: Wednesday 20 October 14.00 – 16.00

Criminal law approaches to exploitative working conditions

Conny Rijken

Professor, Tilburg Law School

Kostantina photo
Konstantina Michopoulou

Attorney at Supreme Courts (Athens Bar Association)


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Dr. Konstantina Michopoulou is an Attorney at Supreme Courts and a member of the Athens Bar Association. Since 2004, she has been handling many cases in the fields of Public & Administrative Law and Human Rights. She has filed numerous Reports, Applications for annulment and Appeals against different state actors, before various Administrative Courts, Council of State and Court of Auditors, challenging the constitutionality or the legality of several state or administrative actions or inactions. Over the last 15 years, she’s been challenging the constitutionality of legislation violating labour rights and fighting for the application of European human rights law within the national legal order. Inter alia, she was involved in many cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and currently collaborates with both national and European authorities on the implementation procedure of its various Court judgements. In parallel, she is a Senior Expert Legal Consultant for various institutions and organisations, offering Legal Advice on decision-making process, litigation and strategic planning. Recently she’s been appointed as the Head Attorney of the Judicial Department at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens, Greece.
As a strong believer of the benefits deriving from the combination of both the Law practice and academic research, Dr. Michopoulou is currently a Teaching Associate on the module of Human Rights at Hellenic Open University and a Module Tutor on Leadership and Ethical Decision Making in the University of London’s Global MBA programme. She holds an LLB degree in Law from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), a PgC in International Criminal Justice, a PgD in International Dispute Resolution and an LLM in Public International Law, all of them from the University of London. Keen on the field of human rights, she obtained her PhD in Public Law and Human Rights having completed a thesis entitled “The Positive Obligations of the State Organs. The European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence and the Greek Constitution” with Magna Cum Laude at the Panteion University of Athens, Greece. Dr Michopoulou has written many articles related to the defense of fundamental rights and their procedural safeguards; and participated in various colloquiums, conferences, and parliamentary committees around the world, speaking and delivering seminars on the field of European Human Rights Law & Policy.

Ludovica Banfi

Project Manager, Research and Data Unit, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)

Week 4: Wednesday 27 October 14.00 – 16.00

Business and employer responsibility and accountability

Giulia Lagana
Giulia Laganà

Senior Analyst, Migration and labour rights, Open Society European Policy Institute

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Giulia Laganà leads the analysis and advocacy on EU policies on migration and labour rights at the Open Society European Policy Institute, the EU branch of the Open Society Foundations, since 2016. After focusing on asylum reform and the externalisation of EU migration management, since 2018 Laganà has worked mainly on migrant workers’ rights and sectorial policies where migrant labour is widespread, like agri-food.

A migration expert with over 15 years of experience, Laganà was a senior adviser on migration, human rights, EU and international affairs to the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome from 2013 to 2016. Previously, she spent four years with the United Nations, working for UNHCR and UNDP in Italy and Brussels, respectively. While she was with the United Nations Development Programme, Laganà oversaw migration and development projects in Western and North Africa. Her work experience also includes stints with NGOs such as SOLIDAR and with the European Commission. Laganà graduated with a First from Cambridge University in social anthropology and holds an MA in human rights and humanitarian aid from the University of Bologna. She has since specialised in international refugee law and EU asylum and migration law. An Italian national, Laganà is bilingual in English and Italian and speaks French.

Silvia Borelli
Silvia Borelli

Associate Professor, University of Ferrara

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Silvia Borelli is a Labour Law Associate Professor of University of Ferrara (Italy). Silvia Borelli belongs to the Editorial Committees of Lavoro e Diritto and of Rivista giuridica del lavoro (Journal members of the International Association of Labour Law Journals) and takes part in the Réseau académique sur la charte sociale européenne et les droits sociaux. She collaborates with the European Secretariat of the Italian General Confederation of Labour and, since 2020, has been included in the ETUC Taskforce on Fair Mobility. She represents ETUC in the Fit for Future Platform of the European Commission.

During her career, she has taken part to several national and European researches on antidiscrimination law, migrant workers, quality of employment, networks of enterprises, posting of workers and transnational labour law. In 2019-2021, she participated to the ETUC project on Securing Workers Rights in subcontracting chains. Silvia Borelli’s full CV and list of publications are available here.

Please check back regularly for updates on the agenda and speakers.


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For more information about the rights of undocumented workers, visit: Labour • PICUM

This event is co-organised by:

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