Improving recruitment regulation

Improving recruitment regulation and monitoring mechanisms in the ASEAN region

Recruitment regulatory officials from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines participated in the training on “Achieving Fair and Ethical Recruitment: Improving Regulation and Enforcement in the ASEAN Region” held on 27-29 September 2022 in Pasig City, Philippines.

The training enhanced the familiarity of officials responsible for regulating recruitment with ILO’s General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment and Definition of Recruitment Fees and Related Costs. The participants were able to impart good practices and have an exchange of views on enforcing regulations and monitoring compliance and effective complaints mechanisms. The proposed Regional Guidelines on Fair and Ethical Recruitment in ASEAN was also reviewed for their inputs.

The short course started with an opening remark from Mr. Khalid Hassan, Director of ILO Country Office for the Philippines. Mr. Hassan emphasized that migrant labour is back in demand, and with the rest of the world recovering from the global pandemic, it is now the time to amplify fair and ethical recruitment through recruitment packages that are based on international labour standards.

Department of Migrant Workers Usec. Bernard Olalia expressed support, saying there is no better time to revisit existing rules, regulations, and guidelines in the Philippines than during the ongoing transition to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). The DMW reiterated its commitment to work with various stakeholders in improving recruitment practices.

In his message of support, Mr. Gustavo Gonzales, Resident Coordinator of UN Philippines, emphasized the importance of the training course as part of the human mobility agenda, which drives international development, and as part of the decent jobs agenda, which guarantees decent jobs to the workers. He also reaffirmed UN’s commitment to support the Philippine government in implementing the Global Compact for Migration

The first module discussed the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment and Licensing of Private Recruiters. Mr. Nilim Baruah, Regional Labour Migration Specialist of ILO-Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, together with Ms. Miriam Boudraa of the ILO International Training Centre, gave an overview of the ILO Fair General Principles and Operation Guidelines as well as an overview of the participation of the private sector in recruitment. Mr. Baruah also discussed on recruitment cost and related cost in recruitment, again reiterating the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) shall not charge directly or indirectly, any fees or costs to workers, but the competent authority may authorize certain exceptions under certain conditions and subject to consultations.

To highlight private sector participation in recruitment, Mr Edgar Beltran, Head of Operations of EDI-Staffbuilders International, Inc. shared experiences, challenges, and good practices on fair and ethical recruitment, specifically the no fees charging of recruitment agencies.

For the second module, Mr. Manolo Abella, former Director of ILO Migration Branch, discussed the findings of a survey conducted on the monitoring recruitment processes within the ASEAN region. Among the major concerns of the countries are recruitment without license, overcharging/not issuing receipts, offering non-existing jobs, falsifying passports/travel documents, deploying workers without approved contracts/valid work visas, bribing officials, organizing migration through irregular channels, and accepting money in exchange for work visa. He also discussed the regulatory structures, inspection practices, recommended practices, as well as the use of incentives to encourage fair recruitment.

Ms. Padmini Ratnayake also shared the monitoring and inspection practices in Sri Lanka. In her presentation, Ms Ratnayake highlighted some unique practices such as non-state led monitoring practices which builds on the support of civil society organizations and other stakeholders. Each country team also exchanged information on their practices on licensing, monitoring and inspection practices, factoring in land-based and sea-based recruitment.

The third module was on acting on complaints and discussion on the proposed regional guidelines on fair and ethical recruitment in ASEAN. On addressing complaints, Mr. Hans Leo Cacdac, Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment of the Department of Migrant Workers, and Ms Padmini Ratnayake, presented Philippine and Sri Lanka practices, respectively. The last agenda of the training was the discussion on the draft regional guidelines on fair and ethical recruitment in ASEAN. The guidelines include the important aspects of recruitment with respect to monitoring recruitment processes; establishing effective inspection; and acting on complaints. Through a workshop, participants reviewed the proposed guidelines and provided inputs and recommendations for consideration.

The training course was organized by the ILO Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific (ILO-ROAP), the Bridging Recruitment to Reintegration in Migration Governance: Philippines (BRIDGE) Programme and the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITC-ILO), in collaboration with the Safe and Fair: Realizing Women Migrant Workers’ Rights and Opportunities in the ASEAN Region (Safe and Fair), and Ship to Shore Rights South- East Asia (Ship to Shore) Programme.