Information on how to: understand and align with good practice in recruitment, and implement and verify responsible recruitment practices

Understand and align with GOOD practice in recruitment


  • Align with best practices for recruitment and recruitment fees as defined by labor experts, governmental agencies, and industry collaborations.

  • Require suppliers to meet ethical recruitment standards - including to source workers from legal and ethical recruitment providers - and include this requirement in supplier expectations letters and supplier codes of conduct.

  • In order to cascade expectations through supply chains, require existing and new suppliers to sign a declaration stating compliance with the company recruitment policies and legal requirements relating to recruitment.


  • Align with best practices for recruitment and recruitment fees as defined by labor experts, governmental agencies, and industry collaborations.


supporting guidance
What does the recruitment industry have to do with forced labor and human trafficking?
  • Migrant workers frequently pay high recruitment fees to secure a job.
  • Workers accrue the debt that makes them vulnerable to exploitation, debt bondage and abuse even before they arrive at their jobs.
  • In this context, companies and suppliers are now recognizing the importance of developing responsible and ethical recruitment practices as a critical component of supply chain due diligence.
Risks for employers

“Nearly all employers are involved in a global business network that reaches well beyond the scope of their direct management and control. They may recruit personnel from other countries, or subcontract work to overseas partners, or purchase goods from a global supply network. Employers may feel they have direct control over their own in-house recruitment processes, but they often have no way of knowing whether the employees of their overseas partners and suppliers—or even some of their own contractors—have been subject to abusive labor recruitment practices.”

Source: An Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Labor Recruitment (Verité)

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Innovation Forum released a webinar exploring the risks for vulnerable workers during recruitment, where they can be “most vulnerable to falling into modern slavery and bonded labour.” The expert panel particularly focused on the issue of recruitment fees and implementing the Employer Pays Principle.
Risks for workers

“When workers must pay exorbitant fees as a condition of obtaining employment, they must often go into debt to come up with the money for their recruitment fees. The existence of the debt—and the worker’s urgent need to repay it— means that the worker can more easily be manipulated by the employer to accept lower wages than were promised, poor working conditions, excessive work hours, or similar abusive practices." 

Source: An Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Labor Recruitment (Verité)


Drive responsible labor recruitment practices in supply chains

What frameworks can companies reference regarding ethical recruitment?  
Ethical Recruitment Principles
  • Legal compliance 

  • Ethical and professional conduct towards workers

  • Free-of-charge services to jobseekers

  • Transparent, ethical terms of engagement

  • Transparent wages, deductions, benefits

  • Healthy, safe, exploitation free working and living conditions

  • Access to remedy and functional, credibly grievance mechanisms

Core Principles and Standards of Ethical Recruitment
  • Adherence to law

  • Transparency of terms of engagement

  • Free-of-charge provision of services to jobseekers

  • Safety at work

  • Non-discrimination and humane treatment

  • Respect for workers’ rights

  • Confidentiality

  • Professional knowledge and quality of service

  • Fair competition

  • Ethical and professional conduct

Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Recruitment 
  • Ethical and professional conduct

  • Respect for laws

  • Transparency of terms of engagement

  • Free of charge provision of services to jobseekers

  • Respect for Confidentiality

  • Safety at work

  • Nondiscrimination and Diversity

  • Workers’ rights

  • Professional knowledge and quality of service

  • Fair Competition

"Responsible Recruitment - more than just Zero Fees for Job Seekers and Workers" - Issara Institute

Ethical recruitment refers to the idea that no worker should pay exploitative fees to secure a job, and that companies should ensure that workers are recruited into their supply chains through legal and ethical processes, with worker safe-guards and transparency built into the hiring process.

"Ethical recruitment means that workers are not charged any costs or fees related to the recruitment process. Ethical recruitment, however, is more than just an employer pays principle or 'zero fees to workers' model. It is also about hiring workers lawfully, treating the workers with dignity, and ensuring transparency, accountability, and worker safeguards are embedded into the process.” - Issara Institute

Critical information to know about recruitment 
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Issara Institute: Slavery Free Recruitment Systems
This paper summarizes the current discussion around fee-free recruitment, including:
(1) definitions of fee-free recruitment;
(2) linkages between migration fees and exploitative practice;
(3) government initiatives on fee-free recruitment;
(4) industry initiatives on fee-free recruitment; and
(5) discussion of the key issues surrounding free-free recruitment.
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Issara Institute: Worker Voice-Driven Ethical Recruitment: Streamlining and professionalizing employer-pays recruitment 
Global brands, retailers, and importers are beginning to require ethical recruitment systems in their supply chains. Employers and recruitment agencies who can demonstrate good ethical recruitment practice will not only be able to retain strategic customers but differentiate their business from the competition. With the partnership support of global brands and retailers, Issara Institute aims to collaborate with businesses and recruitment agencies in Asia that seek to improve processes for more efficient and ethical labor recruitment.
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Join a business platform to drive ethical recruitment
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Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment

The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment is a collaboration between leading companies and expert organizations to drive positive change in the way that migrant workers are recruited.

All members of the Leadership Group are publicly committed to the Employer Pays Principle and its implementation throughout their supply chains. The Leadership Group also acts as a vehicle for advocacy and collaboration and serves as a knowledge hub for sharing good practice, tools and guidance in relation to responsible recruitment. 


Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI)

The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) launched the Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI), a multi-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative focused on ensuring that the rights of workers vulnerable to forced labor in global supply chains are consistently respected and promoted. 


The Initiative is open to any company that supports the mission and vision of the RLI and whose primary objective in joining the initiative is the implementation of forced labor due diligence in their supply chain.

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGFmembers work collectively to implement our Priority Industry Principles (including that no worker should pay for a job) in areas and geographies of key concern, starting with the seafood industry in Southeast Asia. The Seafood Outreach group is designed to connect and bridge with existing efforts on seafood to mainstream the principles. CGF holds advocacy and supplier events on the ground in key geographies, Regional Roundtables on Responsible Recruitment, and is collaborating with Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) to provide a benchmark and recognition tool for social compliance schemes in the seafood sector.
supporting guidance
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Click here to find a suite of additional resources on responsible recruitment

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implement & verify responsible recruitment practices


  • Verify recruitment practices of suppliers.




  • Implement (and require subcontractors to implement) ethical recruitment policies that observe legal compliance and respect all relevant laws, ensuring:

    • No-fee services to jobseekers and workers;  

    • Provision of written contracts to workers, including a copy of the contract provided to workers, with all terms explained in language worker is fluent in; and

    • Provision to prevent the retention of worker documents, including identity and immigration documents, work permits or travel documentation. 

  • Verify recruitment practices in any downstream operations.