DOL strengthens ethical recruitment of temporary migrant workers

Learn how the government seeks to protect migrant workers against abuse

DOL strengthens ethical recruitment of temporary migrant workers

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has strengthened its ethical recruitment of temporary migrant workers through the “Guidance on Fair Recruitment Practices for Temporary Migrant Workers,” mainly based on current DOL regulations, governing H-2A and H-2B programs and the ILO Guidelines. 

Based on the department’s news release, the guidance, issued on June 10, aims to encourage countries and employers participating in the H-2 visa programs to implement best practices. Under the DOL’s policies and regulations, the H-2A program includes temporary agricultural workers, while H-2B includes temporary non-agricultural workers.

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Secretary of Labor Marty Wash said the guidance is a significant step toward the fight against abuse of workers in the H-2A and H-2B programs. “The guidance announced today is intended to increase transparency and regulation of H-2A and H-2B worker recruitment programs and safeguard workers’ fundamental rights,” Wash said.

According to the DOL news release, the recently issued guidance is a key element of the Biden-Harris administration’s Collaborative Migration Management Strategy, primarily aimed to improve cooperative efforts to achieve a secured migration in North and Central America.          

Fair employment process

Based on the guidance, laws and regulations on all stages of the recruitment process must be comprehensive and transparent, especially to workers. Furthermore, governments should strictly enforce compliance with the provisions and design measures to verify the legitimacy of recruitment agencies.

Authorities should also impose relevant penalties on recruiters engaging in abusive and fraudulent recruitment methods to prevent such practices.

Ensuring workers’ rights

The guidance also stated that authorities must ensure that the recruitment process happens in conditions that safeguard the fundamental rights of workers. Some of the ways include:

  • Prohibition of discrimination of applicants based on sex, race, age, and other non-lawful reasons;
  • Implementation of measures to prevent forced labor and child labor;
  • Acknowledgment of the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining

Moreover, as the U.S. begins to employ H-2 workers, retailers should also take measures to prevent abusive recruitment practices in their supply chains. 

Upholding transparency and access to redress

Aside from workers’ rights, governments must also ensure clear and detailed terms and conditions of the workers’ employment, stated in a language the worker can understand. The terms should also include essential employment conditions such as wages, working conditions, and other benefits.

Furthermore, authorities should guarantee that no recruiter will solicit money and charge any recruitment fees from workers in exchange for employment contracts. Recruiters are also prohibited from confiscating and destroying the workers’ documents and agreements.

In cases where abuses related to recruitment occur within their territory, governments should ensure that affected individuals have access to effective remedies such as compensation.

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