Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Defining Recruitment Fees and Related Costs

The ILO Governing Body at its 331st Session agreed to convene in November 2018 a three-day “Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Defining Recruitment Fees and Related Costs”, with the objective to review, amend and adopt draft definitions on recruitment fees and related costs developed by the Office based on a global comparative study and thorough analysis by the Office of definitions of recruitment fees and costs; and recommend ways to disseminate and use the adopted definition at the international and national levels by constituents.
Please note that this Meeting is by invitation only and not open to the public.

The ILO Governing Body at its 326th Session agreed to convene in September 2016 a three-day “Tripartite Meeting of Experts to Develop Guidance on Fair Recruitment”, with the objective to adopt ILO guidelines on fair recruitment, encompassing both cross-border and national recruitment. The Meeting was seen as necessary to provide guidance which could assist in efforts to eliminate abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices. The Meeting adopted a comprehensive set of General principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment, which refers to “recruitment fees or related costs” as “any fees or costs incurred in the recruitment process in order for workers to secure employment or placement, regardless of the manner, timing or location of their imposition or collection”, and expressively prohibit the charging of such fees and related costs to workers. The Meeting recognized that there is no globally accepted “definition of fees and costs” but decided that the subject was something that future work by the ILO might make more precise.

The outcomes of this Experts meeting have informed the general discussion on labour migration at the International Labour Conference in June 2017, which in its “conclusions concerning fair and effective labour migration governance” recognized fair recruitment as an area warranting special attention. In particular the conclusions call on the Office to “pursue efforts in developing and testing a methodology to measure recruitment costs under target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and further work on the definition of recruitment fees and related costs”.

The international community has increasingly recognized that fair recruitment is critical to prevent forced labour, reduce labour migration costs and thus improve development outcomes for migrant workers and their families. This was recognized in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, an integral part of the 2030 Agenda.

The cost of recruitment is also an indicator for target 10.7 of the SDGs. The ILO, as co-custodian of SDG indicator 10.7.1 is working with the World Bank to develop, validate and test a new methodology for measuring recruitment costs. The development and agreement on a definition of recruitment fees and related costs, which would cover both cross-border and national recruitment, is also related with the ongoing discussion on the SDG indicator and will hence contribute not only to the progress in achieving SDG target 10.7, but also to the process of adoption and implementation of a Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration which will be adopted in 2018. The tripartite meeting of experts thus has added urgency.

This definitional work will bring a key contribution to the implementation of the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative, which was launched in 2014. 2 It will also directly respond to the ILC conclusion call for the ILO to “deepen and scale-up its work on international labour migration in response to constituents’ needs and take a leadership role on decent work in labour migration”.

The development a definition of recruitment fees and related costs is not only essential to monitor and evaluate progress toward the achievement of the SDGs, but also particularly timely given the ongoing global discussions on the subject and the call for the ILO to play a leadership role in this area. It is thus suggested to hold a three-day tripartite meeting of experts in the last quarter of 2018 on this subject.