There are 259 overseas employment agencies licensed by the Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population. Fourteen are currently suspended for malpractices such as overcharging migration costs, contract substitution, or leaving migrants stranded en route. Such breaches of the regulations by overseas employment agencies can cause harm and distress to migrant workers, loss of income for migrants and employers, discredit the industry, as well as limit its potential growth in Myanmar.
To encourage more ethical recruitment practices and more fair and respectful procedures, in 2015 the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MOLIP) and with technical input from the ILO TRIANGLE in ASEAN project, developed the Code of Conduct for the Members of Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation.
The Code sets out principles and rules for the recruitment agencies to follow which will protect migrants against exploitation, particularly requiring agencies to be transparent on migration costs, and accountable for the return and reintegration of migrant workers. According to the Code, in a bid to limit conflict of interest, recruitment agents should not be implicated in any of the industries financially involved in the migration process of job seekers."Jackie Pollock, Manager of the ILO TRIANGLE project in Yangon
On 23 March 2018, 66 additional recruitment agencies signed the Code of Conduct and agreed to be monitored, thereby moving Myanmar’s recruitment industry closer to fairer and more ethical recruitment standards. These 66 agencies joined the existing 117 overseas employment agencies which signed up to the Code of Conduct back in August 2016 upon receiving technical training from the ILO on their obligations, as well on the monitoring and ranking system.
In 2017, the ILO also organized a study tour for members of the MOEAF Committee to meet their Vietnamese counterparts and to learn how they have implemented their Code of Conduct since developing it in 2011.
On their return, they formed the Code Compliance and Monitoring Committee comprising a representative from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, an anti-trafficking police officer, 2 labour experts, a representative from overseas employment agencies, and a workers representative. This Committee will determine to what extent each agency has complied with the Code of Conduct and rank them with stars accordingly; 3 stars for full compliance, one for weak compliance.
Prospective migrants and employers will be able to check online to see how many stars a particular agency rated. It is hoped that in the future, the monitoring will not only be done by the Committee but also through migrants and employers voting online.