In today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly compelled to look for job opportunities far away from home, and many find employment in countries other than their own.
While labour mobility brings benefits to millions of workers and their family members, for many it comes at a high price, particularly when it is not properly regulated. Both public and private employment agencies can play an important role in mediating opportuni- ties for full and productive employment and decent work, and in promoting the efficient and equitable functioning of labour mar- kets. Across the world, however, concerns are being raised about unscrupulous employment agencies, informal labour recruiters and criminal traffickers who prey on the low-skilled and migrant workers in particular, acting outside legal and regulatory frameworks. Reported abuses include deception about the nature and conditions of work, retention of passports, deposits and illegal wage de- ductions, charging of recruitment fees to workers, debt bondage linked to the repayment of recruitment fees, and threats of violence or deportation. These abuses derive from gaps in the governance of labour recruitment, especially across international borders.
In response, ILO and UNODC joined forces to promote fair recruitment practices within and across countries. The ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative, which has also gained support within the Global Migration Group, aims to prevent human trafficking and forced labour within and across borders; protect workers, in particular migrant workers, from abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices; reduce the human, social and economic costs of labour migration and enhance development outcomes for migrant workers and their families, as well as for countries of origin and destination. Synergies and cooperation are being built with other relevant initiatives, including IOM’s initiative on Ethical Recruitment. The Fair Recruitment Initiative is grounded in international standards and guiding principles, notably ILO Conventions, Protocols and Recommendations, the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.