The Fair recruitment initiative

Fostering Fair Recruitment Practices, Preventing Human Trafficking and Reducing the Costs of Labour Migration

In today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly looking for job opportunities beyond their community or home country and the recruitment and employment of workers across global supply chains are ever more common. In addition, millions of workers migrate within their own country in search of decent work. Private employment agencies, when appropriately regulated, play an important role in the efficient and equitable functioning of labour markets.

However, concerns have been raised about the growing role of unscrupulous employment agencies, informal labour intermediaries and other operators acting outside the legal and regulatory framework that prey especially on low-skilled workers. Reported abuses involve one or more of the following: deception about the nature and conditions of work; retention of passports; deposits and illegal wage deductions; debt bondage linked to repayment of recruitment fees; threats if workers want to leave their employers, coupled with fears of subsequent expulsion from a country. A combination of these abuses can amount to human trafficking and forced labour. Despite the existence of international labour standards relating to recruitment, national laws and their enforcement often fall short of protecting the rights of workers, and migrant workers in particular.

In response to those challenges, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched a global “Fair Recruitment Initiative” (ILO-FAIR) to:
- help prevent human trafficking
- protect the rights of workers, including migrant workers, from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process
- reduce the cost of labour migration and enhance development gains

This multi-stakeholder initiative is based on the below four-pronged approach, which puts social dialogue at the centre, and is implemented in close collaboration with governments, representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, the private sector and other key partners.