Frequently Asked Questions




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    What is the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS)?

  • User Avatar IRIS Team 




    IRIS is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for labour recruiters developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and a coalition of stakeholders committed to ethical recruitment and the protection of migrant workers. For businesses and migrant workers, IRIS will serve as a due diligence tool for the assessment of labour recruiters.

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    What do you mean by ethical recruitment?

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    Definitions of “ethical”, “fair” or “responsible” recruitment are rooted in existing international standards and conventions. In particular, the International Labour Organization (ILO) C181-Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 establishes clear protections for jobseekers, notably respect for the fundamental principles and rights at work and prohibition of fee charging. This Convention has been elaborated further in ILO’s General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment, with additional emphasis placed on promoting transparency and fairness for the benefit of both workers and employers.

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    Why should companies practice ethical recruitment?

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    Five reasons why it makes business sense to act ethically and how it can save your company money...

        1. Meet expectations of customers and international buyers

        2. Build and preserve company brand, and protect the reputation of the industry

        3. Avoid civil and criminal litigation, and promote trade

        4. Fight unfair competition

        5. Boost workplace productivity and facilitate better recruitment of workers


    Read more here

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    What does IRIS aim to achieve?

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    IRIS aims to identify and support ethical labour recruiters, and to bring transformative change to the international recruitment industry. IRIS takes a management systems approach to ensure ethical recruitment, transparency and due diligence throughout the recruitment process. IRIS works with businesses to prevent and mitigate the negative consequences of unethical recruitment, which may include exposure of workers to exploitation and human trafficking, loss of business, reputational damage and legal liabilities. 

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    How will IRIS achieve its goals?

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    By recognizing and supporting labour recruiters committed to ethical recruitment principles, IRIS seeks to:


      1. Level the playing field for ethical labour recruiters

      2. Present migrant workers and employers with a publicly available roster of certified labour recruiters

      3. Support existing government regulation on international recruitment by incentivizing compliance and good practice

      4. Promote the ‘Employer Pays Principle’ business model


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    What is the IRIS Standard?

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    The IRIS Standard defines the operational benchmarks for compliance with ethical recruitment principles:  

      1. Respect for Laws, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

      2. Respect for Ethical and Professional Conduct

      3. Prohibition of Recruitment Fees and Related Costs to Jobseekers

      4. Respect for Freedom of Movement

      5. Respect for Transparency of Terms and Conditions of Employment

      6. Respect for Confidentiality and Data Protection

      7. Respect for Access to Remedy


    The IRIS Standard has been developed through extensive consultation with stakeholder and expert communities and is based on international human rights instruments, labour standards and industry best practices such as UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human RightsDhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, and other guiding tools for ethical recruitment.

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    Who is eligible for IRIS certification?

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    The IRIS certification currently under development will assess labour recruiters' compliance with the Standard.

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    How do labour recruiters apply for and obtain IRIS certification?

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    IRIS is currently under development and being pilot tested prior to global roll-out. In addition to a “front end” assessment and certification process, IRIS-certified members will be required to demonstrate ongoing compliance. The assessment will be conducted by IRIS trained auditors using tailor-made assessment tools and methodology.

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    How and where is IRIS pilot tested?

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    IRIS will be pilot tested in two phases. The first phase will test the feasibility and applicability of the IRIS Standard in different geographical, jurisdictional, and sectoral contexts. This phase will enable adjustment  and recalibration of the Standard, as well as facilitate the integration of feedback by the auditors, labour recruiters, regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders into the draft certification scheme. Once the certification scheme is developed, the second phase of pilot testing will validate the feasibility and applicability of its end-to-end certification system. During the first stage, the IRIS Standard will be pilot tested in multiple sectors in selected migration corridors in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. IRIS will only be pilot tested in jurisdictions with an existing regulatory framework governing labour recruiters.

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    When is IRIS expected to be launched?

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    While the pilot testing of the IRIS Standard commenced in 2017, IRIS is expected to be launched and fully operational in 2018. More information on the technical and operational aspects of the IRIS certification process will subsequently become available on this website and the newsletter

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  • What are the benefits of IRIS certification?

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    For migrant workers:

      1. Improved transparency of recruitment and deployment processes

      2. Eliminated  risks of exploitation during recruitment

      3. Improved access to remedy


    For governments:

      1. Reduced recruitment related exploitation and human trafficking

      2. Strengthened enforcement by incentivizing business models that comply with international standards

      3. Enhanced international policy coherence in the recruitment field


    For employers:

      1. Identified labour recruiters committed to ethical recruitment

      2. Enhanced due diligence in the procurement of recruitment services

      3. Demonstrated efforts to eliminate modern slavery


    For labour recruiters:    

      1. Recognized businesses that comply with ethical recruitment principles

      2. Improved management systems and recruitment processes through capacity building

      3. Leveled playing field to gain market advantage

      4. Fostered industry-wide adoption of ethical recruitment principles


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    How can the private sector support IRIS?

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      1. Promote ethical recruitment principles and practices throughout their supply chains

      2. Integrate ethical recruitment principles in their supplier Codes of Conduct

      3. Adopt the 'Employer Pays Principle' to ensure that the cost of recruitment is not borne by migrant workers

      4. Pilot test IRIS in parts of their supply chain

      5. Share best practices and lessons learned from social audits  

      6. Choose IRIS-certified labour recruiters and create further demand for ethical recruitment services


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    How can governments support IRIS?

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      1. Improve the enforcement of existing recruitment regulation and ensure that regulation is compliant with international law

      2. Incentivize private sector companies to adopt the ‘Employer Pays Principle’ so that migrant workers do not pay the costs of recruitment

      3. Reform public procurement to include due diligence on human rights issues

      4. Share knowledge and learnings


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    How can civil society organizations support IRIS?

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      1. Bring the voices of migrants to IRIS multi-stakeholder consultations

      2. Inform social audit processes and compliance monitoring of labour recruiters

      3. Support the implementation of government regulation related to recruitment, migration, human rights and decent work standards


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    What is the role of IOM in IRIS?

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    IRIS is currently being developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and a consortium of stakeholders. IOM serves as the secretariat, hosting the IRIS project management and coordination team. IRIS is able to leverage IOM’s institutional and operational infrastructure in its development and operationalization.

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    How does ethical recruitment link to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

  • User Avatar IRIS Team




    Because unethical recruitment and debt bondage are known indicators of forced labour, IRIS will contribute to the achievement of SDG Goal 8, which calls for decent work for all, elimination of forced labour and protection of labour rights. Ethical recruitment also relates to target 10.7 which calls for orderly, safe, regular and responsible mobility of people.