Migrant workers are frequently confronted with a choice: pay illegal or unethical recruitment fees for employment abroad or go without work altogether. To finance these exorbitant costs, they may take out loans that leave them vulnerable to debt bondage, a form of forced labor. For more than a decade, Verité has worked with global companies in diverse sectors to ensure their suppliers and business partners absorb the true cost of recruitment and prohibit the charging of recruitment costs to workers, in accordance with international standards and regulations.
This past February, Verité released a new research study on the nature and indicators of forced labor and human trafficking for labor exploitation in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire. The report is accompanied by a comprehensive set of actionable recommendations for government, industry, and civil society to address the problem through strategic, targeted programming.
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Prohibiting federal contractors from charging workers recruitment fees is a cornerstone of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requiring contractors and subcontractors to take specific preventive measures to detect and eliminate forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains. In December 2018, the U.S. Government amended the FAR to include a comprehensive and clear definition of what constitute “recruitment fees.”
Verité’s White Paper on The Cost of a Job: Systemic Forced Labor in Asia and What Companies Can Do to Eliminate It, we quantify the extent to which unscrupulous labor brokers and their client employers exploit foreign workers’ vulnerability for their own profit by inflating the cost of migration through recruitment fees. Verité’s experience in 2014 alone is that foreign workers in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore pay between the equivalent of between $1,500 and $6,000 to obtain their jobs.