Verité is pleased to launch, with ManpowerGroup, an innovative mechanism for changing the way that the recruitment industry responds to the scourge of forced labor and human trafficking.
In many business sectors worldwide, Verité has found that the presence of multiple actors, fragmented governmental authority and lack of knowledge or resources has enabled unscrupulous parties to enter the recruitment system and operate with impunity.
To respond to this challenge, we have developed a series of specific measures (the “Ethical Framework for Recruitment”) that will improve the ability of responsible firms in different countries, at different stages of the recruitment pipeline, to recognize and selectively partner with one another in upholding ethical standards in cross-border movement of workers. Our solutions are specifically designed to mobilize cooperation among ethical and responsible firms and between those firms and engaged stakeholders in order to reinforce good practices while marginalizing and excluding “bad actors.”
Our Ethical Framework envisions a system in which business can engage with governments, labor unions, NGOs, consumer associations and others to create processes and credentials to further improve the protection of workers migrating globally for work, and to reduce business and reputational risks for firms dealing with a global labor supply. This includes Standards of Ethical Practice (SEP) that build on established and recognized industry best practices as well as core global labor standards. Also included are basic requirements for independent systems to verify and certify compliance, so that any recruitment firm, employer, value chain ‘owner,’ stakeholder or individual migrant can confidently know whether a labor market facilitator is observing and upholding these standards.
We hope for new, transformative, social and market demand for ethical recruitment practices driven by employers, workers, NGOs, labor unions, consumer groups and all other engaged stakeholders. Our Ethical Framework does not, and cannot, represent a total solution to forced labor and human trafficking. But we believe it can significantly improve transparency, accountability and the wider adoption of leading industry practices among firms that facilitate the global movement of workers.
Assessing Labor Recruiters
An essential feature of an effective forced labor audit – and one which is only rarely performed – is the interview with labor brokers contracted by the facility. This can give the auditor full insight into the recruitment, selection, and hiring procedures used by the broker, and the conditions facing migrant workers in pre-deployment, transportation, arrival, and placement.
Auditors should speak with a broad cross-section of labor brokers. They should interview broker representatives and sub-agents, if possible, from each country of origin of migrant workers in the facility, as well as local partners in the receiving country. Topics to discuss range from the specifics of fees and expenses charged to workers or the contracting facility to the brokers’ legal history and its certification or license to operate in each country from which it sends workers. Some of the other issues to address with brokers include:
- The pre-departure orientation or training they provide to workers;
- Contracting procedures and contract substitution;
- Whether they also performs human resource management functions for migrant workers, such as salary payment;
- Document retention or confiscation; and
- Whether the broker has established an effective complaints mechanism or grievance procedure available to migrant workers.
Verité has conducted audits of labor brokers for some of the largest companies in the world, and uncovered risks that had previously been hidden from the employer and the buyer.
Human trafficking and broker-induced forced labor are complex issues. They are hidden, characterized by deception, and typically the result of pressures, abuses, and exploitation leveed not by a single employer, but by a number of abusive actors at each stage of the recruitment, hiring, and employment process. To address this, brands need new assessment and compliance strategies, effective tools, and trained auditors. See the Help Wanted Fair Hiring Toolkit.
Foreign Worker Assessment
Foreign Worker Assessments are focused on conditions at workplaces that employ foreign contract or migrant labor. These assessments are designed to detect labor abuses specific to the employment of foreign and migrant workers through in-depth and detailed analysis of how these workers are recruited, deployed, and employed.