Policy area

Recruiter licensing

The transnational recruitment of migrant workers across is a high-risk economic activity, and states should exercise additional supervision over those who make it their business, with licensing schemes a key means of achieving this. This is an analysis of how comprehensive, transparent and participatory these schemes are, and whether the government provides an environment that incentivises ethical recruitment practices.

Agent licensing

    Comprehensive licensing (4.1)

    This indicator examines the extent to which government licensing schemes regulate the conduct of all of the entities and individuals involved in the recruitment process. In many origin countries, established recruitment agencies in major cities have government licenses to operate, while in rural areas informal recruiters operate outside the licensing framework, rendering it difficult for the concerned regulatory agencies to scrutinise their activities or hold them accountable.

    Guideline 4.3 of the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines on Fair Recruitment (ILO GPOG) establishes that legislation on recruiters should apply “not only to some categories of labour recruiters but also to all recruiters operating outside any specific regulatory framework”.

    Transparent and accessible (4.2)

    ILO GPOG 4.2 specifies that licensing systems should be “transparent and should allow workers and other interested parties to verify the legitimacy of recruitment agencies and placement offers.”

    This indicator outlines the public sources of information on recruitment agencies that are available to migrant workers, and whether these give them any meaningful insight into the trustworthiness and credibility of these agencies.

    Worker, recruiter and employer organizations (4.3)

    This indicator examines the extent to which governments consult worker, employer and recruitment organizations on the design and implementation of licensing schemes, in line with the guidance proffered in ILO GPOG 4.2.

    Ethical recruitment (4.4)

    This indicator explores the degree to which governments have policies and practices in place that effectively incentivise ethical recruitment practices.

    This can include, for example, giving agencies publicly available ethical ratings, publicizing the results of inspections, and - perhaps most critically - whether there is any commercial incentive (or at least the absence of any disincentive) to agencies that refuse to charge migrant workers recruitment fees.

    Joint liability (4.5)

    ILO GPOG Guideline 5.2 suggests that states should promote schemes that hold employers jointly accountable, such as “shared responsibility initiatives”.

    This indicator examines the extent to which employers and recruiters can be held jointly liable for respecting workers' rights and the impact of these schemes on worker outcomes.