top of page

Protecting Migrant Workers during Recruitment and upon Return

DAY 221 March
11:00-12:15 GMT+5:45

Migrant_workers_in_West_Bay_Doha_Alexey Sergeev .jpg


In an increasingly globalized world, workers are moving outside their countries of origin in search of decent work opportunities. Similarly, business are also increasingly looking at labour migration to expand their opportunities to attract and retain the best possible candidates.


Recruitment processes are the starting point to ensure that governments, workers, employers, and societies at large, maximize the positive outcomes of labour migration. Ensuring effective adoption and implementation of fair and ethical recruitment policies and practices means making sure that these respect, protect and fulfil internationally recognized human rights, including labour rights, and respond to established labour market needs.


As per the General Principles and Operational Guidelines (see below), recruitment should take place in a way that respects, protects and fulfils internationally recognized human rights, including those expressed in international labour standards.  Appropriate policies and legislation on employment and recruitment should apply to all workers, labour recruiters and employers. The terms and conditions of employment should be specified in an appropriate, verifiable and understandable manner. Recruitment should take into account the results of mutual recognition of skills and qualifications. No recruitment fees or related costs should be charged to, or otherwise borne by, workers or jobseekers. Specific measures should be taken against abusive and fraudulent recruitment methods, including those that could result in forced labour or trafficking in persons.


Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements can be a tool to safeguard migrant workers against abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices, including the charging of recruitment fees and related costs.


At the same time, the concept of sustainable return and reintegration of migrant workers has emerged as a priority focus in policy and practice including in light of perceived migration-development linkages, the proliferation of temporary labour migration programmes and the COVID-19 pandemic that forced millions of migrant workers to return to their countries of origin.


Return migrant workers may have mixed characteristics and needs. In the absence of a comprehensive framework of services, they may experience a number of challenges affecting their labour market reintegration. Appropriate policies and measures can promote the beneficial impact of returnees, while addressing their protection needs.


The business community, in cooperation with government and workers organizations, has a critical role to play to accelerate change toward achievement of fair and ethical recruitment, as well as sustainable return and reintegration.


Key resources to inform this session include:

Session Description

This session will look at ways and means to protect migrant workers through fair and ethical recruitment practices and sustainable return and reintegration.

Session Objective

The key objectives of this session are to:


  • Explore linkages between labour migration, including fair and ethical recruitment, business and human and labour rights, and sustainable development and identify existing gaps and possible policy solutions.


  • Identify business responsibility and action to ensure fair and ethical recruitment, as well as sustainable return and reintegration for migrant workers.


  • Discuss the role and responsibilities of different stakeholders involved in the recruitment and return of migrant workers including governments, recruitment agencies, sub-agents, employers’ and workers’ organizations, civil society etc.


  • Raise awareness on human and labour rights due diligence and good practices for recognizing, preventing and addressing abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices.


Panelists will reflect on the following questions: 


  • What can be done to reduce the cost of labour migration?

  • What are good practices to promote the “employer-pay-model”?

  • How can private sector initiatives promote fair and ethical recruitment principles?

  • What are some of the best practices to promote fair and ethical recruitment and employment of migrant workers, especially considering the complexity of supply chains, involving multiple tiers and geographical locations?

  • How to ensure businesses and governments have the capacity to include migrant workers in design of grievance and remediation systems, and make these truly accessible to migrant workers as well as effective as defined by UNGPs?

  • How can reintegration be taken into consideration in the entire labour migration cycle?

  • What are the challenges and opportunities for economic and labour market reintegration of migrant workers?


According to the General principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment and definition of recruitment fees and related costs, the terms ‘recruitment fees’ or ‘related costs’ refer to any fees or costs incurred in the recruitment process in order for workers to secure employment or placement, regardless of the manner, timing or location of their imposition or collection.


bottom of page