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Regulating recruitment

Protection of migrant workers should start at home with the process of recruitment. Countries of origin need to ensure that recruitment agencies work in a legal and fair way and do not exploit the ignorance of potential migrants by extracting large fees for unsuitable, or even non-existent, jobs.

In the past, some governments in Asia took a very active part in recruiting workers for overseas employment. Nowadays, however, most recruitment is in the hands of private agencies in countries of origin and destination. This has become a multi-billion dollar transnational industry forming the basis of an extensive 'migration infrastructure' — ranging from large firms to small unregistered enterprises. Practically all migrant workers from South-East Asia, for example, find their jobs through private recruitment companies who link up with job brokers in the Republic of Korea, for example, Singapore, or Hong Kong.

These agencies have helped expand opportunities for migrant workers and provide valuable services. But some agencies use unscrupulous recruiters who often travel round the rural areas of poor countries enticing workers into paying extortionate fees. Then when migrants arrive at their destination they may be required to do a different job or find that there is no job waiting for them at all.

What the ILO can offer

The ILO ,both through the International Migration Programme and the Employment Services Department, can support governments in their efforts to ensure orderly recruitment, including private sector participation. We have collected a range of best practices from around the region — from countries such as the Philippines where all agencies have to register and conform to an established fee structure.

We can also offer model contracts that are both understandable and enforceable, and which employment agencies can use as benchmarks. These cover, for example, minimum labour standards, job descriptions, remuneration, working hours and holidays, transportation, compensation for injuries, emergency medical care, and procedures for the settlement of disputes.



Online publications

  1. Merchants of Labour
    Merchants of Labour — Editor Christiane Kuptsch [pdf - 2.0 Mb]

Useful websites

  1. ILO Employment Services Department
Last update: May 3, 2009 ^ top