Tripartite meeting for dissemination of findings of rapid assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on migrant workers and their families and the recruitment industry in Nepal

A tripartite discussion to share the key findings of the assessment and identify key recommendations to ensure the rights of migrant workers and their families are protected throughout the migration cycle.


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of human life including the world of work. The crisis has accelerated in terms intensity and expanded its global reach, and the full and partial lockdown imposed in response to the crisis is already affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, representing approximately 81% of the world’s workforce . Business across a range of economic sectors, especially smaller enterprises, are facing losses and millions of workers are vulnerable to income loss, temporary reductions in working time and loss of jobs . Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has constrained both their ability to access their places of work in the countries of destination as well as their ability to return to their countries of origin.

In Nepal, official data on the labour permits issued by the Government indicates that using the services of a Private Recruitment Agencies (PRA)has been the most prevalent approach among Nepali migrants when seeking foreign employment. There are over 847 PRAs licensed to operate by the Government of Nepal, majority of which are members of an umbrella organization: Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA).  While PRAs are central actors in Nepal’s foreign employment industry - connecting workers to jobs abroad and processing the pre-departure requirements as stipulated by the Foreign Employment Act (2007), a host of other actors are involved in the labour migration process ranging from health screening clinics to pre-departure orientation providers, travel agencies, hotels and so on.  

The ILO has been promoting decent work for migrant workers and also implementing fair recruitment interventions through multiple projects under its Fair Recruitment Initiative, namely Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment (FAIR) and Global Action to Improve the Recruitment Framework of Labour Migration (REFRAME) and through the development of global guidance on fair recruitment, in particular the General Principles and Operational Guidance and Definitions of Recruitment Fees and Related Costs (2019). The Fair Recruitment Initiative strives to alter the recruitment culture and practices across sectors and for this to happen it is crucial to bring forth a business case for fair recruitment in order to transform the recruitment industry and supply chains. Over the years, the ILO has been working with multiple stakeholders involved in labour migration on various issues around decent work and fair recruitment, including employers in destination countries including Jordan and Qatar, as well as  private employment agencies in several countries of origin. This has entailed working with the association of Nepali private employment agencies to increase their understanding of fair recruitment. In addition, the projects also aims to build the capacity of Nepali licensed private employment agencies in Nepal that are committed to respect core human rights instruments including international labour standards.

The Office launched a series studies to assess the impact of COVID-19 on various stakeholders:

i) a rapid assessment of impact of COVID-19 on Nepali migrant workers and their families
ii) a rapid assessment of impact of COVID-19 on private recruitment industry.

While the former aims to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on the external migrant workers of Nepal and its implications on social and economic lives of the Nepali societies, the latter seeks to further understand the way in which the recruitment industry has been impacted and to get a better understanding of the changed context under which the project will be working in. Both assessments aim to guide the future work of the ILO but more generally inform the future policy discussion with ILO constituents.


The tripartite discussion is to share the key findings of both assessment and identify some key step forwards in ensuring that rights of migrant workers and their families are protected throughout the migration cycle. Specifically, the meeting aims to give participants the space to reflect on assessment findings; for key stakeholders in particular representing the workers, private recruitment industry, and the Government of Nepal to present and share their views on the assessment findings and the priority issues they continue to face in the context of COVID-19; and for stakeholder to discuss how they can work together to address these issues moving forward.


Monday 12 October 2020 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

3 - 3.10 p.m.

Welcome remarks, house rules, interpretation Neha Choudhary, ILO

3.10 - 3.15 p.m.

Introduction to the assessments (Gaëla Roudy Fraser, ILO)

3.15 - 3.30 p.m.

Presentation key findings of the Rapid Impact Assessment on Impact of COVID-19 on Migrant Workers and their families
(Jeevan Baniya, Social Science Baha), commissioned by ILO Skills for Employment (SEP)

3.30 - 3.45 p.m.

Presentation key findings of the Rapid Impact Assessment on Impact of COVID-19 on the Recruitment Industry
(Arjun Kharel, Social Science Baha), commissioned by ILO Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment (FAIR II)

3.45 - 3.55 p.m.

Presentation of good practices and key recommendations from both studies
ëla and Neha, ILO)

3.55 - 4.35 p.m.

Discussion and comments:

Representative from Workers’ Organization (General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions)
Representative from Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA)
Representative from Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS)
Representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA)


4.35 - 4.50 p.m.

Q & A;  Discussion (moderated by Neha Choudhary, ILO)

4.50 - 5 p.m.

Summary of the key steps forward and closing remarks (Richard Howard, ILO)