Ethical Recruitment is labour recruitment whereby the costs of recruitment are borne by employers, not jobseekers and workers, and is conducted in a legal, fair, and transparent manner.

Issara's Ethical Recruitment work is driven by empowered worker voice. Worker feedback channels connect with jobseekers and workers at both source and destination locations, and partnerships with brands and retailers, suppliers, and recruitment agencies drive more responsive remediation and systems change.


Ethical recruitment is labour recruitment whereby the costs of recruitment are not borne by jobseekers and workers, but instead are borne by the employer. This includes all charges, including those by recruitment and employment agencies, as well as by brokers, sub-brokers, and agents. In ethical recruitment arrangements both employers and employment agencies share responsibility to:

  • respect all relevant laws,

  • ensure ethical and professional conduct toward

  • workers and each other,

  • uphold decent health, safety, working, and living

  • conditions for workers, and

  • ensure access to remedy and functioning, credible

  • grievance mechanisms.


Ethical recruitment models of recruitment have become a recent focus of responsible sourcing. A growing number of brands and retailers from Europe, North America, and Australia want their suppliers to ensure ethical recruitment practices are used to hire their workforce. In this way, businesses can be more confident that risks of human trafficking, forced labour, and exploitative recruitment are eliminated from their supply chains.


Read more about our unique approach and achievements to date in our updated program brief (click on report at right).

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Issara’s groundbreaking March 2018 research on ethical recruitment along the Myanmar-Thailand corridor, Developing a Financially Viable Ethical Labour Recruitment Model: Prospects for the Myanmar-Thailand Channel, provides analysis and perspective of labour recruitment along the largest source and destination countries for migrant workers within the intra-ASEAN region. 

The paper advances our understanding of current recruitment practices, and proposes steps to drive Thailand and Myanmar along a more ethical recruitment track. In order for ethical recruitment to be implemented and adopted by employers/suppliers and recruitment agencies, we must look at the business opportunity (prospects and obstacles for developing a financially viable model), the stakeholders involved, and the business enabling environment.  Issara advocates for taking a market systems development approach to transform the current recruitment ecosystem in Thailand and Myanmar, and draws upon its on-the-ground research and in-depth interviews with workers, recruitment agencies, employers, and government to highlight key considerations. It also breaks down and explains actual costs of recruitment against the official channel and ethical recruitment aims, from the positions of employers and workers, presents the work of Issara Institute and how its structure and approach enables ethical recruitment on the ground. 

Overall, Issara seeks to advance the growing commitments of leading global brands and retailers seeking to implement ethical recruitment in their supply chains in Thailand and in Southeast Asia, as well as globally, and to provide greater protections and empowerment to workers.  Our September 2018 research, based on interviews with workers, recruiters, and CSOs, assessed the effectiveness of ethical recruitment programming to date in the origin country of Myanmar and destination country of Thailand, and found promising opportunities with the role of CSOs and digital technology at the first mile village level, but still a strong need to incentivize Thai employers toward ethical recruitment on the part of global brands and retailers. 

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