BackgroundIn today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly looking for job opportunities beyond their home country in search of decent work and better livelihoods. Over the years foreign employment has generated substantial inflows of remittances and has contributed to the development of livelihoods particularly among low income households in Sri Lanka. In 2017, the number of migrants emigrating from Sri Lanka for work has been around 150,000 according to the Government authority mandated for labour migration. The majority of migrant workers from Sri Lanka perform jobs which are semi- or low skilled.
However, despite all the potential benefits of labour migration, migrant workers encounter many challenges particularly during the recruitment process. These challenges include, but are not limited to, high costs of migration, deception regarding the terms and conditions of employment, limited access to information on safe recruitment and employment options, abuse, and other unscrupulous recruitment practices. Improving recruitment practices will lead to win-win-win outcomes for workers, countries of origin, and countries of destination, and ultimately contributes to reducing forced labour/exploitation of workers in destination countries.
The global growth in the private employment agency industry has accelerated since the mid-1990s. With a large and growing number of actors involved in the recruitment process, the recruitment industry, if properly regulated, plays a pivotal role in the equitable functioning of labour markets by matching available jobs with suitably qualified workers for different job sectors.
The overall objective of the REFRAME project in Sri Lanka is to reduce abusive practices and violations of human and labour rights and enhance the protection of migrant workers during the recruitment process.
Recognizing the various challenges encountered by migrant workers during the recruitment process, the REFRAME project aims at making interventions in the following spheres in Sri Lanka.
- Improve the institutional capacities of stakeholders to implement initiatives on fair recruitment,
- Increase accessibility to accurate information, knowledge, tools on fair recruitment to migrant workers and other relevant stakeholders, and
- Develop and implement integrated strategies to address unfair recruitment through relevant stakeholders.
The final beneficiaries of the project will be women and men migrant workers and returnees who will benefit from the interventions at the national level through efficient awareness raising, better access to information on recruitment channels and policy and legislative reforms. The target groups under the project are Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, labour recruiters and civil society actors.