Responsible Recruitment - Addressing Gaps in Protections for Migrant Workers

-- Responsible Recruitment - Addressing Gaps in Protections for Migrant Workers

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Between 2017 and 2018, Equidem prepared two research and policy reports in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business on the challenges and opportunities for respecting migrant worker rights in business activities. The first report, on Remediating Worker-Paid Recruitment Fees, was launched at the United Nations' 2017 Fourm on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. This report profiles six multi-national companies who have sought to address access to remedy by reimbursing workers found to have paid fees. Each of the remediation programmes vary in size and structure and have been shaped by the local contexts in which these companies operate. Together, they have provided a form of remedy for thousands of workers amounting to millions of dollars in the last decade.

A major cause of forced labour in global supply chains is the charging of recruitment fees to migrant workers. Some companies have sought to reimburse workers charged these fees, many face serious challenges in doing so. Reimbursing worker-paid fees is an important step consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, which clarify the baseline expectation for companies to respect human rights, including providing for or cooperating in remediation when they have caused or contributed to adverse human rights impacts.

The second report, launched at the Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment and Employment in Singapore on 11-12 June, offers practical guidance to businesses seeking to recruit responsibly in challenging environments. Developed from research focussing on the recruitment process that takes low-paid migrant workers from Nepal to work in the Gulf states, this report illustrates the extent of the governance gaps that exists in transnational recruitment, making the following recommendations to businesses:

  • Develop recruitment policies that adopt the Employer Pays Principle and require suppliers to pay the costs of recruitment directly
  • Develop a pre-qualification review process for prospective suppliers that, at a minimum, reviews supplier recruitment guidelines and practices
  • Establish robust screening and selection processes for key business relationships
  • Include in all procurement contracts a requirement to have human rights requirements, including on responsible recruitment
  • Map the various points of leverage that are available to a business to help drive more responsible recruitment practices.