Ethical Recruitment: A Priority for Kenya

News Mon, 05/17/2021 - 16:14 Share

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Kenya, with funding from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) and under a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of State, has enhanced knowledge of 30 private recruitment agencies (PRAs) in Nairobi on ethical recruitment practices in a series of workshops.

These trainings are part of a larger project that aims to create sustainable business models for the recruitment of migrant workers that are consistent with international ethical recruitment standards. In a follow up workshop, 10 agencies were trained on the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), a voluntary certification process that promotes the right of migrant workers, enhances transparency and accountability in recruitment, advances the ‘Employer Pays’ Principle and strengthens public policies, regulations and enforcement.

Recruitment agencies find jobs for Kenyans in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries– Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The high rate of unemployment in Kenya, proximity to the GCC, and the need to fill labour gaps in some sectors are drivers of labour migration. There are more than 400 registered PRA’s in Kenya.

Unethical recruitment practices are rampant and remain a challenge across Kenya. Practices like deception on the nature and conditions of job, charging unapproved and exorbitant fees, and improper documents are common and expose migrants to trafficking and exploitation. These practices are mostly carried out by unscrupulous recruitment agencies.

In Kenya, it is a legal requirement for all PRAs to be vetted and accredited by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection through the National Employment Authority (NEA). A list of certified recruitment agencies is available on the NEA website, visit

To protect Kenyan migrant workers and promote ethical recruitment, the government is applying strict measures on issuance and renewal of operating licenses for recruitment agencies. However, unscrupulous private employment agencies are operating without NEA certificates and are exploiting vulnerable migrant workers”, cited John Njue, Director of Labour Migration, NEA.

Ethical recruitment contributes to safe and orderly labour migration which benefits countries of origin and destination, employers and migrants. For instance, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya’s highest foreign earner is diaspora remittances, which totaled 290.8 million USD in March 2021 and continue to rise steadily despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ethical recruitment can protect, and even increase, these remittances.       

The willing IRIS trained recruiters from the workshops will undergo certification and will incorporate the seven IRIS principles in their management systems. These include respect of law and fundamental rights, ethical and professional conduct, prohibition of recruitment costs to migrant workers, respect for freedom of movement, transparency of terms of employment, confidentiality and data protection and respect for access to remedy. The recruiters will promote safe, orderly, regular and legal labour migration, as well as combat forced labour and exploitation.


IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people. The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.


GFEMS, an international fund catalyzing a coherent global strategy to end human trafficking by making it economically unprofitable. With leadership from government and the private sector around the world, the Fund is escalating resources, designing public-private partnerships, funding new tools and methods for sustainable solutions, and evaluating effectiveness to better equip our partners to scale and replicate solutions in new geographies. For more information about GFEMS, visit


The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) leads the Department’s global efforts to combat modern slavery through the prosecution of traffickers, the protection of victims, and the prevention of human trafficking by: objectively analyzing government efforts and identifying global trends, engaging in and supporting strategic bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeting foreign assistance to build sustainable capacity of governments and civil society, advancing the coordination of federal anti-trafficking policies across agencies, managing and leveraging operational resources to achieve strategic priorities, and engaging and partnering with civil society, the private sector, and the public to advance the fight against human trafficking.

This article was made possible through support provided by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery under a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of State.