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PHL, HK recruiters sign code of conduct on ‘fair’ hiring

04 June 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

Image may contain: 4 people, including Jalilo Dela Torre, people sitting
Signing the CoC from left: Palmiery, Liu, Roudy-Fraser and Dela Torre

A landmark Code of Conduct that conforms to standards set by the International Labor Organization on ‘fair recruitment’ was signed on Jun 2 by two of the biggest employment agency organizations deploying Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

The CoC was signed at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office by Teresa Liu for the Association of Hong Kong Manpower Agencies (AHKMA) and Alfredo Palmiery of the Society of Hong Kong-Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines (SHARP).
Gaela Roudy-Fraser, project manager of ILO’s Integrated Programme for Fair Recruitment signed as witness, along with Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre.

The CoC contains, among other things, a no-recruitment fee provision and binds the signatories to strictly adhere to the laws on recruitment in both the sending, and the receiving countries.
They also are bound to charge “reasonable rates” for training and medical tests, provide clear employment contracts, ensure applicants attend pre-departure and post-arrival orientation seminars, monitor the status of workers and provide them a safe channel for reporting grievances.
CG Morales says more agencies
must adhere to the CoC

Labatt dela Torre welcomed the initiative, but urged both sides to “walk the talk,” meaning, they should ensure their member agencies adhere strictly to the Code.

Consul General Antonio A. Morales also said it was a welcome move, as “the protection of our nationals abroad is one of the pillars of our foreign policy.”
But he noted that AHKMA represented only a small number of the 1,700 licensed employment agencies in Hong Kong, so there was a need to reach out to more groups to spread the message about better protection for migrant workers.

Roudy-Fraser called the signing of the CoC as a significant first step towards protecting migrant workers rights, noting that Hong Kong was the first destination country to have a CoC of this kind.

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“You are really ahead of the curve, (compared with) other countries,” she said.

Between this year and 2021, she said the second phase of the Fair project will be implemented, which means expanding its application to other countries like Qatar, Jordan and Tunisia, and covering other industries or sectors.

In response, Palmiery said the ILO initiative was a good move because “ideally, it should benefit all sectors” including employers, he said.
But he raised a question on its overall implementation. He said if member-agencies are held bound to the CoC, what about the others who are not signatories?

To ensure compliance, he suggested the Philippine government through POLO, should provide incentives to agencies that sign and adhere to the CoC. He also said the government should make it mandatory for all agencies to sign up with an organization that pledges to be bound by fair recruitment practices.

Liu was more upbeat, saying, “We believe that the CoC, supported by the Philippine government and the Hong Kong Labour Department can further enhance professionalism and service quality in our trade.”
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