Formal work migration reaps benefits for individuals, companies and societies. It bridges persistent skill gaps and provides opportunities for individuals to find a job most aligned with their ambitions, skills and competencies. It allows businesses to grow and create jobs in the countries in which they are based. Migrant workers access higher incomes and valuable work experience that allows them to leverage their skills, , support their relatives back home and build a life in their new country.
Migration should never be a trap. All too often human traffickers and travel agencies pose as ‘recruiters’ to make jobseekers pay for a job. Lack of basic rule of law, decent recruitment regulation and enforcement impede professional cross-border recruiters from developing a decent free-of-charge service to jobseekers. This results in migrants finding themselves in particularly vulnerable situations, often indebted and exposed to forced and bonded labour.
In 2018 the international community agreed on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) to support countries and regions in handling migration. The GCM provides key policy elements to ensure fair and ethical recruitment and incorporates two existing international initiatives: the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) set up by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the Fair Recruitment Initiative developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Both initiatives seek to create tailored standards and guidance on how to implement fair recruitment standards and regulations (including a ban on fee charging for a job) and how to ensure compliance with them. The ban on recruitment fees charging is furthermore enshrined in article 7 of the ILO Convention on Private Employment Agencies (No.181). As such this ILO Standard remains the most important and strongest international instrument to ensure that domestic and international jobseekers are not forced to pay to access a job.
The World Employment Confederation is committed to the prohibition of fee charging. The decision is enshrined in the organisation’s Code of Conduct, meaning that the World Employment Confederation’s members are in no way allowed to charge fees as a condition of providing employment, even in those jurisdictions where it is allowed. Various tools and guidance have been developed by the World Employment Confederation to help recruiters, workers and businesses create voluntary instruments to promote ethical recruitment, drive rogue players out of the market and create a level-playing field. This includes ensuring that workers have access to remedy, if such a situation should occur.
The World Employment Confederation believes that the best way to promote ethical recruitment is by creating an appropriate regulatory framework for private employment services in both countries of origin and destination. They should be based on the framework provided by the ILO Convention on Private Employment Agencies (No. 181). Proper enforcement and the existence of rule of law in general are essential to ensure effective implementation of this framework.
The World Employment Confederation is also directly involved in IRIS and in the Fair Recruitment Initiative. Members and executives were closely involved in drafting the ILO Guiding Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment as well as in the Definition on Recruitment Fees and Related Costs.
In 2019, the World Employment Confederation supported the launch by the International Labour Organisation of a media toolkit to help journalists report beyond headlining on issues related to forced labour and fair recruitment. Promoting fair recruitment practices is one strategy to prevent forced labour. Media reports understanding the actions taken by the private employment services sector to fight abusive practices will support social partners and governments to shape regulations and policies that work for businesses and workers alike.