Migrant Recruitment Fees

Intermediaries in a system have the power of making it effective or creating a dysfunction. Unfortunately, profit-seeking private recruitment agencies, employers and informal recruitment agents adulterate the labour recruitment process for migrants. The World Bank’s 2017 study found that Vietnamese migrants incur huge debts, paying fees to agents in Vietnam, just to get an opportunity for employment in Malaysia. The debt incurred is several times that of their annual salary in Malaysia and they take a substantial period of time to clear it. It is ironic that in order to earn an income, these migrants have to spend much more and to the point of becoming heavily indebted, even before they start working. This is just the tip of the iceberg and it is not exclusive to Southeast Asia. Fee-payment doesn’t end at the origin country. Migrant workers are required to pay administrative fees, registration fees etc. to the host country’s recruitment agency or employer.

Research reveals large numbers of migrants resorting to illegal means of crossing borders because of their inability to pay exorbitant fees or because they choose to avoid unnecessary payments. This aggravates the informal labour situation and provokes further exploitation. It is a vicious cycle. The national migration system and thus, the national migration policy is rendered ineffective. With a robust regulatory framework, unnecessary costs incurred by migrants can be avoided. Duplicate payments can be prevented by a transparent recruitment system, especially transparency in recruitment processes between sending and receiving countries. This requires collaboration between governments and formalisation of an agreement via a treaty. Ratification and implementation of the treaty are even more essential. Stricter laws and enforcement measures are needed to weed out exploitative agents, recruitment agencies and employers. Best practices in recruitment need to be shared among the sending and receiving countries, in order to eradicate duplicity constructed by intermediaries.

No Fees Please!!!


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