Is it safe to hire foreigners in a pandemic?
The pandemic is in full blast. In Poland, there are still increasing daily incidence rates and there are many indications that the situation will not return to normal anytime soon. In such difficult times, is employing foreigners a good idea or rather an increased risk of infection?
Map of Covid-19 cases
At the time of writing this article we have over 400 thousand cases in Poland (counted from the start of the pandemic). This puts our country on a very high 20th position in the global ranking. Of course, the number of inhabitants of a given country and the number of tests performed are equally important, however, Poland has not been safe in terms of the coronavirus for a long time. In this situation, employing foreigners seems safe, and certainly no less safe than employing Poles.
Most frequently hired foreigners
More than half of foreign workers on the Polish labour market come from Ukraine, and this probably comes as no surprise to anyone. Many employees from Ukraine are employed directly by Polish employers, thanks to simplified procedures, which have been in place for some time. More and more often companies also take advantage of outsourcing of employees from Ukraine, which relieves the burden of a whole range of duties related to searching, recruiting and finally hiring employees from abroad.
Of course, Ukrainian workers – although the most popular – are not the only foreigners here. Belarusians, Germans, Russians and Vietnamese also hold a few percent each of our labour market share. Foreigners from other countries (e.g. employees from Asia) account for slightly more than 30% of employees from abroad. So how is the pandemic situation in their homeland?
Our neighbours’ pandemic
Data on Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic indicate that Ukraine is 2 places behind Poland with a slightly lower (therefore comparable) number of cases. It should be noted, however, that the Ukrainians have performed fewer tests (per million population) than Poland (Poland: 129,365 – Ukraine: 75,901), which may mean that there are actually more cases than the statistics indicate.
If we compare the results from the home countries of foreigners most often employed in Poland, we can notice that Belarus is in the distant 51st place in terms of the total number of cases, with 269,664 tests per 1 million population performed here, which means that 2 times more tests were performed there than in Poland. Although Germany is in a high 15th position in terms of the total number of cases, our neighbour has also performed twice as many tests (260,898 tests per 1 million inhabitants) as Poland. Russia, as a country incomparably larger than ours, is in the infamous 4th place in the global comparison, but several times more people have been tested here (424,475 out of every million) than in Poland. Finally, we have Vietnam, which in comparison with the situation in Poland seems to be a green island from which Asian workers should fear going to Europe. It’s a country that ranks 165th in the world in terms of Covid-19. Although only 12,767 people per million were tested here, out of 1,246,480 of all tests performed since the beginning of the pandemic only 1,202 came back positive…
By analysing the above statistical data, we can conclude that the situation related to the coronavirus pandemic is de facto comparable in the countries concerned and that employment of workers from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia or Germany does not pose an additional risk of the spread of the disease. And let us look at Vietnam not only as a safe country to look for workers, but above all as a model with which we will hopefully be able to quickly catch up in terms of the low number of cases.
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