ILO’s 2016 General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment

The objective of these non-binding ILO general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment is to inform the current and future work of the ILO and of other organizations, national legislatures, and the social partners on promoting and ensuring fair recruitment. The general principles are:
  • Recruitment should take place in a way that respects, protects and fulfils internationally recognized human rights, including those expressed in international labour standards, and in particular the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and prevention and elimination of forced labour, child labour and discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
  • Recruitment should respond to established labour market needs, and not serve as a means to displace or diminish an existing workforce, to lower labour standards, wages, or working conditions, or to otherwise undermine decent work.
  • Appropriate legislation and policies on employment and recruitment should apply to all workers, labour recruiters and employers.
  • Recruitment should take into account policies and practices that promote efficiency, transparency and protection for workers in the process, such as mutual recognition of skills and qualifications.
  • Regulation of employment and recruitment activities should be clear and transparent and effectively enforced. The role of the labour inspectorate and the use of standardized registration, licensing or certification systems should be highlighted. The competent authorities should take specific measures against abusive and fraudulent recruitment methods, including those that could result in forced labour or trafficking in persons.
  • Recruitment across international borders should respect the applicable national laws, regulations, employment contracts and applicable collective agreements of countries of origin, transit and destination, and internationally recognized human rights, including the fundamental principles and rights at work, and relevant international labour standards. These laws and standards should be effectively implemented.
  • No recruitment fees or related costs should be charged to, or otherwise borne by, workers or jobseekers.
  • The terms and conditions of a worker’s employment should be specified in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner, and preferably through written contracts in accordance with national laws, regulations, employment contracts and applicable collective agreements. They should be clear and transparent, and should inform the workers of the location, requirements and tasks of the job for which they are being recruited. In the case of migrant workers, written contracts should be in a language that the worker can understand, should be provided sufficiently in advance of departure from the country of origin, should be subject to measures to prevent contract substitution, and should be enforceable. Workers’ agreements to the terms and conditions of recruitment and employment should be voluntary and free from deception or coercion.
  • Workers should have access to free, comprehensive and accurate information regarding their rights and the conditions of their recruitment and employment.
  • Freedom of workers to move within a country or to leave a country should be respected. Workers’ identity documents and contracts should not be confiscated, destroyed or retained.
  • Workers should be free to terminate their employment and, in the case of migrant workers, to return to their country. Migrant workers should not require the employer’s or recruiter’s permission to change employer.
  • Workers, irrespective of their presence or legal status in a State, should have access to free or affordable grievance and other dispute resolution mechanisms in cases of alleged abuse of their rights in the recruitment process, and effective and appropriate remedies should be provided where abuse has occurred.
The operational guidelines are meant to inform governments, enterprises and public employment services.