Migrant Workers

Recruitment Fees

04 May 2016

Migrant workers are a ubiquitous feature of the global economy – the International Labour Organization estimates there are 150 million migrants in the global workforce. 

These workers – and in particular low-skilled migrants – are often among the most vulnerable to exploitation and frequently less able to understand, defend or promote their rights. In the labour market migrant workers can suffer job discrimination, unfair treatment, unequal wages, harsh working conditions and other affronts to their basic dignity. 

The situations low-skilled migrant workers face are often made worse by excessive debt. This debt is incurred through high recruitment fees they must pay to secure the work. 

This IHRB Briefing, updated in 2018, provides an overview of the human rights risks posed to migrant workers due to the practice of charging them fees as part of the recruitment process. It includes information on:

  • what are recruitment fees 
  • the impact of recruitment fees 
  • the business case for ethical recruitment 
  • what businesses should do 
  • key resources 
  • and more

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Commentary by Julia Batho, Research Fellow, IHRB