ILO proposes barring recruitment agencies from charging fees from workers

Kathmandu, September 9

The International Labour Organisation has issued a fair recruitment guideline that has proposed barring recruitment agencies from charging recruitment fees and related charges from workers and job-seekers eyeing employment opportunities overseas.

ILO has issued the 30-point fair recruitment operational guideline to its 187 member states after holding tripartite consultation with government representatives, trade unions and employers in Geneva from September 5 to 7. The guideline, which has explained the role of the government and employers, is expected to be a guiding principle for recruitment companies and member states to harmonise labour and employment laws accordingly.

“The ILO guideline advocates for decent working environment and the labour’s right,” said Igor Bosc, chief technical adviser, ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for South Asia.

The guideline has stressed that the business enterprise (employer) should respect human rights when recruiting workers.

As there have been complaints from migrant workers, especially those employed in Gulf countries, that their travel and other important documents were confiscated by the employers, the guideline has said that business enterprises should not retain passports, contracts or other identity documents of workers and also recommended to respect workers’ confidentiality and ensure protection of data pertaining to them.

The guideline has also made a distinction between labour recruiters serving as intermediaries to place workers in employment, and employers. When labour recruiters recruit workers in one country for employment in another country, they should also respect human rights, including labour rights in compliance with international laws and the law in the country of origin, country of transit and the country of destination, as per the guideline.

“Recruiters acting across borders should comply with bilateral and multilateral labour agreements between the countries concerned which promote human rights, including workers’ rights for protection and ensure the conditions of work and life are at par with what they were promised when they were recruited.”

Similarly, the employers should follow international laws, standard practices while recruiting workers and also ensure the written contracts are unambiguous so that workers also can easily understand the terms and conditions. Employers also need to establish a complaint, dispute resolution mechanism in the workplace, the guideline states.

The guideline has reserved the rights of workers, like freedom of association and collective bargaining, in the workplace and has said the employer should respect this. The employer cannot recourse the labour recruiters or temporary work agencies to replace the workers who are on strike, according to the guideline.

Employers should ensure that migrant workers have a legally recognised employment relationship with an identifiable and legitimate employer in the country where the work is performed. The guideline has also mentioned that the freedom of migrant workers to change employment or return to home country should be respected by the employer in bonafide cases.

The guideline has also recommended some crucial steps to be taken by the government to ensure the rights of workers are not violated and for a conducive working environment. “The government should better monitor recruitment agencies, business enterprises or the workplaces regarding protecting the rights of workers.”

Strengthening the required institution, harmonisation of laws, formulation of required laws for recruiters and employers have also been identified as the government’s responsibility. Enforcement of laws, complaint hearing mechanism, awareness programmes for workers, identification of destination countries (for foreign job aspirants) and signing of labour agreements have also been assigned to the government for protection of workers’ rights.

The guideline will be presented at the next ILO convention, scheduled to be held in June, where member countries may endorse it.

'Rescue Nepalis stranded in UAE'

KATHMANDU: The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure immediate rescue of 30 Nepali migrant workers left stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Thirty Nepali workers who reached the UAE a year back to work as security guards have been reported stranded as they have not been paid by their employer for the past four months. All of them were hired by a Sharjah-based company. Spokesperson at OPMCM, Damodar Regmi, said the Office had written letters to both ministries’ secretaries, directing them to ensure the immediate rescue of stranded workers.