IRIS is a social compliance scheme that is designed to promote ethical international labour recruitment. It has been created by IOM and a coalition of like-minded partners – in practical terms, IRIS is about identifying and supporting ethical labour recruiters. It does this by:

  1. Defining and setting a benchmark for ethical recruitment – ‘the IRIS Standard’,
  2. Establishing a voluntary certification process for international labour recruiters, which includes creating a list of ‘certified ethical labour recruiters’ to help employers and workers make more informed decisions about recruitment, and
  3. Ensuring that the IRIS Standard is being maintained by certified recruiters through a monitoring and compliance mechanism.

The goal of IRIS is to transform the international recruitment industry to make it fair for workers, recruiters and employers. It does this by:

  • Promoting the Employer Pays Principle,
  • Promoting greater transparency within international recruitment, and
  • Promoting the rights of migrant workers.

IRIS created was created because the exploitation of migrant workers often begins at the recruitment stage when workers are charged recruitment fees and costs, 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. Over the years, several companies have approached IOM asking for support in identifying ‘ethical’ labour recruiters – especially in countries of origin. It is for these reasons that IOM and a coalition of likeminded stakeholders decided to develop the IRIS initiative in 2014.

Important Roles:

Scheme Owner –– Provides Conformity Monitoring and Integrity Program governance and secretariat. Has overall responsibility for IRIS Certification Scheme design, credibility, performance and ongoing improvement. The IRIS Scheme Owner is the IRIS Secretariat, situated in IOM Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Scheme Manager –– Independent organization appointed by Scheme Owner to provide administration and quality oversight of scheme management requirements. Accountable to IRIS secretariat for implementing and monitoring certification scheme. The IRIS Scheme Manager is Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS), a division of Social Accountability International (SAI).

Labour Recruiter ––  for the purpose of IRIS Scheme the term labour recruiter applies to private recruitment agencies that offer labour recruitment services. Labour Recruiters can take many forms, whether for profit or non-profit, operating within legal and regulatory frameworks. Labour Recruiter is the subject of IRIS certification (may be prospective Applicant, an Applicant, or a certified Labour Recruiter).