Migrant recruiters adopt Code of Conduct in Lebanon

Recruitment agencies syndicate adopts Code of Conduct to respect migrant workers’ rights.

News | 07 June 2013
Contact(s): Rena Timsah, PROWD Project Communications Consultant; (t) +961 1 752 191 ex: 190; g1beyexcoll@ilo.org
Beirut (ILO News) – The Syndicate of Owners of Recruitment Agencies in Lebanon (SORAL) has adopted a Code of Conduct in efforts to promote respect for migrant workers’ rights in Lebanon, it announced on Thursday (June 6) in a conference organized by Caritas with the support of ILO.

The move comes amid heightened concern over recruitment and employment practices relating to migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, most of whom are women from Asia and Africa.
Lebanon currently lacks specific regulation that governs migrant domestic work.

Under the Code of Conduct, recruitment agencies will commit to protecting migrant domestic workers from discrimination, physical and sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. Agencies will be bound to spell out worker and employer rights and duties at the start of the employment relationship.

Agencies that violate the Code of Conduct – facilitating work placements that lead to forced labour and exploitation – are subject to being blacklisted by the Syndicate. Repeat offenders will have their company name circulated to embassies of the countries of origin, local authorities and non-governmental organizations on a regular basis.

Recruiters should report violations of workers' rights to the Lebanese authorities. They are also bound to cover travel expenses for workers with serious illnesses during trial periods, after which the employer becomes responsible for repatriation expenses. “By adopting this code of conduct, SORAL is showing a strong commitment to protecting the rights of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon,” said Zeina Mezher, National Project Coordinator of the ILO project “Promoting Rights of Women Domestic Workers” (PROWD). “The next step is to put in place effective implementation and monitoring mechanisms.”

The Code brings Lebanon’s recruitment practices closer to international standards but does not eliminate the need for legislation to safeguard the rights of all parties concerned.

Caritas and SORAL signed an MOU in October 2010 on protecting the rights of migrant domestic workers. Caritas and the ILO are also charged with training recruitment agencies on the application of the Code of Conduct.

The representative of Ministry of Labour, Marlene Atallah, expressed support for the initiative, noting that the Code of Conduct will help to better protect the rights of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon until specific legislation is in place.

“We are trying to put an end to the negative stereo type that haunts our industry,” said Hisham Jaroudi head of SORAL when explaining why the code of conduct was drafted.

Jaroudi also explained that SORAL will establish a committee responsible for monitoring the application of the Code of Conduct, which will also comprise a complaints procedure, and called for government support through a strengthened legal framework to protect the interests of all parties.

The PROWD project – “Promoting Rights of Women Domestic Workers” by ILO is funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation