Ethical hiring practices to protect rights of migrant workers, say stakeholders

Kathmandu, October 25

Nepali government officials, private sector stakeholders and civil society representatives' meeting in Kathmandu today acknowledged that ethical recruitment practices could play key role in protecting the rights of migrants and reducing the risk of people becoming victims of forced labour or modern slavery.

Stakeholders taking part in a national level consultation organised by the International Organisation for Migration recognised that migrant workers were particularly vulnerable to exploitation at recruitment and deployment phases of the migration cycle, when unscrupulous recruitment agencies and unauthorised agents can charge excess fees, provide misleading information about jobs, and retain workers’ identity documents.

“There is now a growing recognition of ethical recruitment being a vital part of robust migration governance. IOM is working collaboratively with the private sector, civil society, governments and the international community to make recruitment a fairer process for workers, recruiters and employers,” said IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Lorena Lando.

“Migrant workers fill critical labour shortages. Employers and the governments of countries sending or receiving labourers should therefore share responsibility for their protection throughout the migration cycle,” she added. IOM advocates for ethical labour recruitment practices through initiatives such as the International Recruitment Integrity System and Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking.

Umesh Dhungana, joint secretary, at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security said migration is  rarely ‘a choice’ for Nepali migrants, due to lack of employment opportunities at home. The government is therefore committed to working with civil society, the private sector and the international community to promote ethical recruitment, he noted. “Nepal is in the process of revising bilateral agreements with destination countries to implement the ‘employers’ pay’ principle and minimise the burden on migrant workers,” he added.

Labour migration for employment overseas plays a vital role in socio-economic development and poverty reduction in Nepal. On an average 800 Nepalis leave the country through formal channels to work abroad every day, according to government statistics.