Labour Market Behaviours of Back-and-Forth Migrants From Poland



After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Poland became the main sending country in Central Europe. Despite the lack of institutional barriers to settling in member states of the European Union since 2004, many Polish migrants continued to undertake temporary labour mobility including repetitive, back-and-forth moves. This article examines the relationship between migrants' back-and-forth international mobility and their activity in the labour market of the sending country. It describes changes in the labour market status of migrants engaging in repetitive migration, based on two surveys conducted in Poland in 2001 and 2007, complemented by qualitative follow-ups. The results show that migrants deploy various economic strategies: reconcile employment in both countries; abandon jobs in Poland; or only remain economically active abroad. In many cases back-and-forth migration led to being unemployed in Poland, which constitutes an important challenge for labour market policy.

Policy Implications

  • Local Public Employment Services (PES) should be able to distinguish unemployed persons who undertake repetitive, back-and-forth migration. Local PES should include profiles of unemployed persons and questions about migration experience and its character: labour/non-labour migration, short-/long-term, single/repetitive, etc.
  • For each unemployed person, the process of career guidance provided by the local PES should assess the possible impact of back-and-forth migration on the labour market situation in Poland.
  • The back-and-forth migration should be taken into account at the level of career guidance supplied by Career Centres at high schools and universities.