E.g., 09/25/2023
E.g., 09/25/2023
Running in Circles: Progress and Challenges in Regulating Recruitment of Filipino and Sri Lankan Labor Migrants to Jordan
July 2011

Running in Circles: Progress and Challenges in Regulating Recruitment of Filipino and Sri Lankan Labor Migrants to Jordan

Migrants from the Philippines and Sri Lanka have taken on a growing role in filling labor shortages in Jordan in recent years, which has led to significant challenges surrounding the recruitment of these foreign workers. In Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Jordan, private recruitment agencies play an important role in facilitating and driving labor migration. But despite comprehensive laws and guidelines to control migration systems, Sri Lankan and Filipino workers migrating to Jordan remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at the hands of these recruitment agencies.

Review of government data, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions with migrants point to specific problem areas such as the proliferation of licensed agents, unlicensed subagents, and brokers; exploitation among agents and between agents and employers; insufficient capacity to weed out unqualified employers; a broken legal system for migrants; and the recruitment ban on Filipino domestic workers. To address these gaps, this report recommends initiatives and programs to strengthen system management, including controlling and reducing the number of licensed recruitment agencies and unqualified employers; defining legally acceptable transactions among recruiters, migrants, and employers; and creating migrant-friendly grievance mechanisms.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Sri Lankan and Filipino Labor Migration to Jordan: Trends and Characteristics

III. The Recruitment Marketplace, on Paper

A. The Licensing of Recruitment Agencies

B. Requirements for Worker and Employer Qualifications

C. Setting the Terms and Conditions of Recruitment

D. Ensuring Compliance Through Monitoring, Adjudication, and Sanctions

IV. The Recruitment Marketplace, in Practice

A. Placement Fees Vary by Workers’ Sector and Gender

B. Expensive Predeparture Loans

C. Prohibitive Deployment Costs

D. Underpayment or Nonpayment of Wages

E. Confiscation of Passports

F. Poor Working and Living Conditions

G. Physical Abuse and Sexual Harassment

V. Gaps Between Policy and Practice

A. An Overcrowded Market for Licensed Agents

B. Proliferation of Unlicensed Subagents and Brokers

C. Exploitation and/or Collusion Among Agents and Between Agents and Employers

D. Difficulty in Screening Out Unqualified Employers

E. A Broken Legal System for Migrants

F. Ban on the Deployment of Filipino Domestic Workers

VI. Bridging the Gaps: Five Ways Forward

A. Reduce the Number of Recruitment Agencies to an Optimum Level

B. Bring Subagents and Brokers into the Formal Sector

C. Ensure that Employers Are Qualified

D. Regulate Transactions Among Recruiters and Between Recruiters and Employers

E. Address Inadequacies of Existing Grievance Mechanisms

VII. Conclusion: Developing Capacity for Better Implementation