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Q&A: Recruitment, rights, responsibility and respect


Niyama Rai

National Project Coordinator, International Labour Organization Country Office for Nepal

Why is fair recruitment important? What are the key components? And is it possible?

Why is fair recruitment important?

While globally labour recruiters play an important role in cross-border recruitment to match labour demand and supply, there is growing concern around unscrupulous and abusive recruitment practices that have a direct relationship to forced labour.

Thus to address these challenges recruitment needs to take place in a way that respects and protects human rights of all workers and treats them as individuals rather than perpetuating commodification.

What is a key component of fair recruitment?

One of the key principles of fair recruitment is that no recruitment fees or related costs should be borne by workers to secure a job. An ILO/WB KNOMAD* study noted that on average the total recruitment costs borne by Nepali migrant worker going to Qatar are equivalent to 3.3 months of their earning at the country of destination.

Working just to pay back their financial obligations leaves migrant workers highly dependent on the employers or recruiters, and unable to leave exploitative working conditions thus increasing their vulnerability to forced labour.

So is fair recruitment possible?

The ILO is currently piloting a fair recruitment model for Nepali migrant workers going to work in the Jordanian garment sector. Keeping migrant workers at the core of the work, the pilot uses a multi-stakeholder approach and works with governments, brands, factories, workers’ organisations, and labour recruiters to ensure fair recruitment along the global supply chain.

The costs of recruitment are borne by the employers and the Nepali workers have access to free and accurate information regarding conditions of recruitment and employment prior to their departure. 

*International Labour Organization/World Bank Global (ILO/WB) Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

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