Date of Meeting: 2 May 2017

Meeting Organizer: Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility

ISJC Staff Present: Eirwen Pallant

Reporter: Eirwen Pallant

Which SDG does this topic cover? 8, 12

Type of meeting: Webinar

Brief summary of presentation of information made

This webinar was to launch the Best Practice Guidelines for Ethical Recruitment of Migrant Employees.

The use of recruitment agencies by employers of migrant workers is a major concern to those opposed to human trafficking and modern slavery, because many of the agencies do not follow good practise and may even be part of a trafficking network. Recruitment agencies often charge extortionate fees for finding work for those wishing to work overseas, may retain documents to control the migrant workers and may also control housing, travel and wages for the employer. The guidelines are intended to encourage employers and migrant workers to use agencies that conform to the standards of best practice.

Presenter Valerie Gurney –ICCR Director of No Fees programme

No fees policy is trying to change from employees paying recruitment costs to employers paying them. Fees often charged in country of origin of worker and so also need to institute reimbursement by employers.

3 Pillars of good recruitment

  • Use of written contracts in employees own language
  • No retainment by employers of any personal documents and no withholding of wages
  • Any fees associated with recruitment are paid by the employer

Needs to be instituted industry wide to an informed audience. Companies cannot achieve in isolation

Presenter Sara Guertsen - Contratados

Contratados is an organisation for migrant workers led by migrant workers. Often migrant workers are not given enough information to make an informed choice on whether to accept an employment contract. In USA 750, 000 immigrants on temporary work visas, 100,000 of them for agricultural jobs.

Contratados provides

  • A workers information website
  • Anonymous reporting
  • Alerts
  • Blogs
  • Know your Rights materials

Aim to empower migrant workers to shift balance of power towards migrants

Presenter Ramona Moorhead – Social Accountability International

Uses management system to tackle forced labour. Key elements needed

  • Senior leadership commitment
  • Risk assessment and due diligence
  • Awareness and internal alignment
  • Training and support, including advice on how to make changes
  • Performance measurement with performance incentives ( you can’t improve what you don’t measure)

Connect levels of the supply chain to enbed holistic change and improvement

Outside inflences on business are drivers for change- eg NGOs

Presenter Brent Wilton- Director of Workforce Rights at Coca Cola

Example from Coca Cola - Audit in the Middle East identified withholding of passports in Gulf States. Emphasised could hold passports but was not required by law. Not holding passports is legal and not onerous. Qatar, now given exit documents on arrival.

Audits made legal requirement in US in 2009. Led to training of auditors to look for forced labour.

Concentrate on employment contracts- honest, understandable (in own language) and no recruitment fees paid by employee, paid by employer.

Coca Cola sub contracts to multiple independent bottlers, can also be franchised. Complicates enforcement of policies.

Multicompany action helps overcome- increases leverage, helps identify risk factors, see what’s happening on the ground

Marie Apostol- Fair Hiring Initiative (Philippines)

Key components of a good recruitment policy

  • Employer pays policy for recruitment fees
  • Transparency
  • Fairness of employment terms for women
  • Merit-based selection
  • Adherence to national and international laws and standards of recruitment practice
  • Post-deployment assistance to workers

Critical challenges (especially in gulf states)

Uneven playing field

  • Market challenges
  • Regulatory challenges- unreasonable entry barriers
  • Transparency and ethical challenges- entrenched relationships between governments, recruiting agencies and employer
  • Companies won’t pay recruitment costs
  • Company’s will only pay visa & flight costs
  • Lack of action by governments on bad recruiters
  • Bribes to government officials to get each worker in (good recruiters refuse to pay)
  • Workers made to pay all fees and bribes to employers and government officials (bad recruiters)
  • Lack of ethical recruitment/recruiters

What’s Needed for change

  • Lift Market Ethics. Increase ethical demands on recruitment otherwise will never be economically viable.
  • Need change in national Laws to facilitate this
  • More Countries to ratify ILO convention C181
  • More worker awareness at point of departure of option not to pay recruiter and of rights


How can it be negotiated with Governments for employers to pay recruitment fees?

Inefficient if companies address one by one. Much better with companies acting together

How can the workers’ rights to association be ensured?

Cannot. Can only make workers aware of the risks to be able to make an informed decision.

Role of NGOs recommended , including by business. Role in advancing the case for ethical recruitment by advocacy and pre-deployment training. Companies need the NGOs to supply ‘on the ground’ information for them to act.

Benefits to ethical recruitment

  • Not just because the right thing
  • Improves loyalty
  • Improves productivity

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

The Salvation Army is active in many places that migrant workers are recruited or employed. Prevention of exploitation starts pre departure and the Salvation Army can be involved in raising awareness for

  • Requirements of an ethical recruitment agency. Allows monitoring of recruiters in places of departure
  • Pre-departure preparedness  of migrant workers in risks, what to expect, preparation for where to get help if find they are being exploited
  • Business often want the NGOs to inform them when they find that business practices are not fulfilling ethical standards. Inform and advocate for change when poor practices detected.

Web links for more information

  • - Best Practice Guidelines for Ethical recruitment of Migrant Workers
Tags: United Nations, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production