Consumer Goods Companies Release Practical Guidance on Repayment of Worker-Paid Recruitment Fees

  • Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour and AIM-Progress member companies release step-by-step guide for repayment of worker-paid recruitment fees

  • Around one-fifth of all people in forced labour exploitation in the private economy are in situations of debt bondage, which can be caused by paying recruitment fees

  • New Guidance is designed to be used by all employers throughout the consumer goods value chain

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Human Rights Coalition Working to End Forced Labour (HRC), in partnership with AIM-Progress, has released new “Guidance on the Repayment of Worker-paid Recruitment Fees and Related Costs” to support corporate action around the topic of remediating worker-paid recruitment fees. As workers in global supply chains – particularly migrant workers – may be coerced to pay fees to recruitment agencies in order to secure jobs, they are at risk of falling into debt bondage, which may lead to cases of forced labour. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around one-fifth of all people in forced labour exploitation in the private economy are in situations of debt bondage.

This Guidance is intended to be a practical tool for all businesses to help ensure their recruitment and employment practices respect the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles (PIPs), which were launched in 2017 and define the most common, yet problematic, employment practices which can lead to cases of forced labour. The PIPs state:

  • Every worker should have freedom of movement.
  • No worker should pay for a job.
  • No worker should be indebted or coerced to work.

Guidance is a powerful tool to support companies respect these Principles, particularly the second – no worker should pay for a job – as well as the Employer Pays Principle, in their employment practices. The Guidance is designed to be updated as the global sustainability landscape evolves, businesses enhance their human rights due diligence (HRDD) systems, and more actors undergo the remediation process. With its step-by-step guidelines for how to repay workers for any recruitment fees and related costs, the HRC and AIM-Progress invite all relevant actors from different sectors to use this Guidance as a tool to strengthen their HRDD approach, especially in areas where recruitment fees are a common practice, to ensure responsible recruitment of workers worldwide.

HR Technology News: Talent Shortage to Handle your Virtual Events could Hurt Your Brand

The Guidance was released during a session at the CGF’s annual Sustainable Retail Summit about “Industry Action on Responsible Recruitment to Fight Forced Labour” featuring Didier Bergeret, The Consumer Goods Forum; Heidi Koester Oliveira, Mars, Inc.; Anbinh X. Phan, Walmart; Benjamin Gatland, The Heineken Company; and Rosey Hurst, Impactt. The Guidance is derived and aligned with Impactt’s “Principles and Guidelines for the Repayment of Migrant Worker Recruitment Fees and Related Costs.”

As an initiative of 30 of the world’s largest consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, the HRC is committed to helping achieve fair and decent working conditions worldwide by eradicating forced labour from its supply chains. The work of the HRC continues the CGF’s long history of engagement on the issue of forced labour within consumer goods supply chains by building on the CGF’s Social Resolution on Forced Labour, the first of its kind in the industry; its Priority Industry Principles; and ongoing relationships with key stakeholders in the industry.

AIM-PROGRESS is a global initiative of fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and their common suppliers with a mission is to positively impact people’s lives and ensure respect for human rights, while delivering value to our members and their supply chains. This is done across four areas: human rights priorities and respective Working Groups, the Regional Hubs, Mutual Recognition work stream to create synergies in approaches, and the Capability Building work stream to equip our members with knowledge and ability to execute strong responsible and sustainable sourcing programmes.

Didier Bergeret, CGF Director of Sustainability, said, “With the ILO releasing new calculations on modern slavery that show more people worldwide are in cases of forced labour compared to 2016, all employers have a responsibility to step up actions to ensure their workers are recruited and employed fairly. This Guidance offers step-by-step advice for businesses on how to address the important topic of recruitment fees.”

HR Technology News: Nearly 90% Of Project Teams Are Hybrid According to New Report by ProjectManager

Louise Herring, Executive Director of AIM-Progress, said, “Responsible recruitment is a central focus of AIM-Progress’s and its members’ work on human rights. We recognise that providing practical guidance, alongside hands-on support, to suppliers and recruitment intermediaries is critical for improving supply chain practices. We hope this Guidance will support further collaboration between supply chain partners to remediate and tackle the root causes of recruitment fees.”

Heidi Koester Oliveira, Global Director, Social Impact, Mars, said, “Responsible recruitment is not the norm in certain global supply chains, and that’s why Mars is working with major brands and retailers to shift systems, support suppliers, and show that progress is possible. We believe that vulnerable workers can be recruited responsibly – without bearing fees and expenses –  when the true cost of recruitment is shared across the value chain. This Guidance can support companies in addressing recruitment fees where they are identified, so we can move forward to focus on government advocacy and new systems, controls, and commercial levers to eliminate this practice.”

Rachel Cowburn-Walden, Global Head of Sustainability, Human Rights, Unilever, said,  “Unilever supports the launch of this Guidance which includes practical steps that, when implemented, will help workers, reduce business risks and create a more responsible recruitment industry.”

Rosey Hurst, Founder of Impactt, said, “We welcome the launch of this Guidance which has the potential to drive remedy at scale across global supply chains and make a significant contribution to reducing debt bondage and repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to workers who have paid fees”.

HR Technology News: Electives Raises $2.25 Million to Revolutionize Learning and Development in the Workplace

To share your insights with us, please write to