Fair and ethical recruitment

ILO launches regional operational guidelines on fair and ethical recruitment for ASEAN regulators

New guidelines provide practical information to help regulators protect migrant workers in the region from abusive recruitment practices.

News | 09 March 2023
BANGKOK (ILO News) - A new set of guidelines launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) will help national regulators in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region develop, monitor and enforce fair and ethical recruitment policies.

The Regional operational guidelines on fair recruitment in ASEAN have been developed as a practical resource for regulators. They provide guidance on licensing private recruitment agencies, the monitoring of recruitment processes, effective inspection and enforcement mechanisms, and acting on complaints.

The guidelines are intended to apply to both countries of origin, and destination.

For both workers and employers alike, private recruitment agencies perform a critical job matching function. However, recruitment is often an imperfect process, characterized by fraudulent and exploitative practices. Many countries regulate the licensing and operations of private recruitment agencies, but as recent ILO surveys show, recruitment costs for migrant workers are excessively high (far above legal limits), indicating the challenges in achieving fair and ethical recruitment in the region.

Mr Nilim Baruah, Regional Migration Specialist for Asia and the Pacific said,Fair and ethical recruitment can prevent migrant workers from experiencing labour rights’ violations, including trafficking and forced labour. These guidelines provide a series of short and highly practical recommendations that should provide the basis for efforts to improve regulation and enforcement of recruitment in the ASEAN region. ILO looks forward to working with the national regulators to support their implementation.”

The regional operational guidelines have been developed within the framework of the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment which provides a comprehensive approach to realizing fair recruitment, reducing labour migration costs, and protecting the rights of migrant workers from abusive practices during the recruitment and placement process. Their development was also guided by the findings of recent ILO regional research that mapped the laws and enforcement mechanisms of ASEAN Member States vis-à-vis recruitment. National regulators also provided their inputs which helped shape the development and finalization of the guidelines.

Labour migration plays an important role in fostering economic and social development in the ASEAN region. As per 2022 World Bank data, international remittances received by the region increased from approximately US$78 billion in 2019 to over US$100 billion in 2022; this trend is projected to increase in the future. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 10.6 million international migrants in ASEAN; nearly half were women.

For further information please contact:

Mr Nilim Baruah
Regional Migration Specialist for Asia and the Pacific
Email: baruah@ilo.org