The IRIS certification scheme assesses labour recruiters’ compliance with the IRIS Standard and relevant international human and labour rights instruments. The Standard provides the operational benchmarks for compliance with ethical recruitment principles. Labour recruiters compliant with the Standard will receive IRIS certification via the certification scheme. The compliance assessments are conducted by IRIS trained auditors using tailor-made methodology and tools. In addition to a “front end” assessment and certification process, a monitoring and compliance system supports certified labour recruiters in maintaining their commitment to ethical recruitment. IOM guided capacity building and training helps labour recruiters to improve their management systems and recruitment processes.
Why IRIS Certification is Important
The exploitation of migrant workers often begins at the recruitment stage when workers are charged predatory fees or misled about the job on offer. According to the latest global estimates of modern slavery, around 25 million people are victims of forced labour globally – with about half of all victims in debt-bondage.
When it comes to combatting modern slavery, many interventions focus on the employment stage – ie on how workers are treated in the factory or farm setting. While these interventions are important, they often come too late when it comes to tackling unethical recruitment and its consequences. Over the years, several companies have approached IOM asking for support in identifying ‘ethical’ labour recruiters – especially in countries of origin. However, it has been difficult to respond to these requests given the lack of a standard definition of ethical recruitment, as well as inconsistencies and gaps in how international recruitment is regulated.
What IRIS Certification Aims to Achieve
It is for these reasons that IOM and a coalition of like-minded stakeholders decided to develop the IRIS initiative in 2014. IRIS is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), as well as the Governments of Australia, Canada, and Sweden, and through private sector donations.
With the development of the IRIS standard, IRIS certification aims to provide a uniform definition of what ethical recruitment is and provide a program that certifies individual labour recruiters against that definition. This will allow recruiters to signal to stakeholders their commitment to ethical recruitment, and for stakeholders to have some assurance of the ethical practices of the labour recruiter. Ultimately, the certification program aims to build the capacity of and set a high expectation for labour recruiters in regards their social performance.
How IRIS Certification Aims to Achieve these Goals
IRIS will achieve the above goals through a multilayered approach.
- The Approach
First, IOM and partners will work with interested labour recruiters in building their capacity to both meet the standard’s expectations and to exceed them.
- Application and Certification
Second, interested and prepared labour recruiters will apply for IRIS certification, and where applicable, become certified against the standard and continually improve over the certification cycle.
- A Management Systems Approach
Third, the introduction of a management systems approach to providing due diligence in both the upstream and downstream supply chain of labor recruiters will impact not only their own operations and controls, but also the expectations that their suppliers and contractors have to meet, thereby lifting the practice of actors all along the labour supply chain.