IOM Releases Guidelines for Labour Recruiters of Migrant Domestic Workers

Geneva – Globally, there are more than 67 million domestic workers over the age of 15. Eighty per cent are women; one in five is a migrant worker.  

Migrant domestic workers often are left out of global efforts to engage private sector employers and encourage increased accountability and protection of employees in operations and supply chains. Due to the hidden nature of their work in private households, migrant domestic workers are harder to reach, and more vulnerable to mistreatment. 

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is releasing guidelines for labour recruiters on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy mistreatment of migrant domestic workers.   

With an estimated 260,000 private recruitment agencies spread over the globe, labour actors continue to shape the migration experiences of migrant workers. They can at the same time also play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant domestic workers in their recruitment journey.  

The intersection of gender, race, religions and other factors combine to create a unique mode of discrimination for these migrants, and not only in the workplace. Abuse also occurs during recruitment. All over the world, persistent (and fraudulent) abusive recruitment practices put migrant domestic workers into exploitative situations before they even have begun to work in an employer’s household. 

In response, IOM has developed the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work, Access to Remedy of Migrant Domestic Workers. The guidelines have been informed by existing international labour standards and related International Labour Organization instruments, including the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (C189) and Domestic Workers Recommendation, 2011 (R201).  

Structurally, the guidelines are derived from the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) Standard, developed by IOM through extensive multi-stakeholder consultation process; and follow the seven IRIS principles, offering special guidance and best practices tailored for the migrant domestic workers’ recruitment industry.  

“It is more important than ever for labour recruiters to uphold international ethical recruitment standards during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marina Manke, Head of the IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division, Department of Migration Management. “By providing concrete, operational guidance to labour recruiters and highlighting good practices, the guidelines support labour actors to establish and implement policies to assure the rights of migrant domestic workers during the recruitment process,” Manke added.  

The guidelines have three chapters which provide an overview of the risks facing domestic workers, outline the responsibilities of labour recruiters and set forth operational guidelines on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy based on the IRIS Standard.  

The guidelines will be translated into multiple languages for wider usage. 

Download the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work and Access to Remedy for Migrant Domestic Workers 

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: +63 916 237 0574, Email: