Fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers

Project completed

Approximately 105 million people are currently working outside their country of origin. Many of these migrant workers have profited from international labour recruitment intermediaries. Millions, however, have fallen victim of abusive and exploitative practices by unethical recruiters. Together with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), SDC will implement activities to prevent abuses and exploitation of migrant workers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Labour migration
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
01.07.2015 - 31.12.2018
CHF  5’252’000

In today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly looking for job opportunities beyond their home country. Recent reports have highlighted the role of informal intermediaries and unscrupulous private employment agencies operating in the informal economy. Available research and experience suggest that a variety of factors contribute to recruitment abuses. First, migrant workers are often prevented from organizing and collectively bargain on working and living conditions. Second, weak labour migration governance, regulation and enforcement in countries of origin and/or destination creates incentives for non-compliant behaviour. Existing regulations in many countries are often inconsistent with or fail to uphold international human and labour standards and do not effectively address abusive recruitment practices. Even when countries attempt to implement robust regulations, a lack of cooperation between countries of origin and destination can hinder enforcement and the ability of workers to make complaints or pursue remedies. A successful approach, therefore, needs to involve many elements of current efforts to regulate recruitment, including origin-country laws controlling fees and combating fraud; registration and licensing of recruiters and other efforts to increase supply-chain transparency; private certification of recruiters and other rating systems; the creation of alternative recruitment initiatives; and pre-departure education for migrants.


Reduction in deceptive and coercive practices during the recruitment process and violations of fundamental human and labour rights, brought about through increased safe migration options, effective regulation and accreditation of public and private employment agencies, and unscrupulous actors held accountable for violations.

Target groups

Governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, private employment agencies, cooperatives, civil society actors and media outlets. By cooperating with and supporting these stakeholders and target groups, the project will ultimately work to improve labour recruitment practices and the protection of women and men migrant workers in the target countries (Jordan, Nepal, Philippines and Tunisia) as well as for migrant workers globally.

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Fair recruitment corridors based on the implementation of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW) established to prevent abusive recruitment practices.

Outcome 2: Access to reliable information and services provided to low-skilled migrant workers in the recruitment process.

Outcome 3: Recruitment intermediaries are willing to be IRIS (International Recruitment Integrity System) certified and companies and employers are better able to identify ethical recruitment intermediaries.

Outcome 4: The IRIS  certification process is tested in key migration corridors in specific economic sectors where recruitment-related abuses are known to exist.

Outcome 5: Disseminate information and enhance global knowledge about recruitment as well as engagement with the media.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Labor Organization
  • International Organisation for Migration

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’252’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    5’215’503 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF   12’000’000
Project phases Phase 99 01.02.2022 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase) Phase 2 01.10.2018 - 30.06.2022   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.07.2015 - 31.12.2018   (Completed)