Reforming recruitment processes and standardizing operational conduct of private employment agencies in Nigeria

Arising from institutional and operational challenges that pervades the recruitment industry in Nigeria, the Federal Government with support from the FAIRWAY Programme completed a revision of the Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies, introducing revised guidelines to facilitate ethical conduct of licensed recruiters of outsourced personnel.

News | 13 December 2021
On 18 and 19 November 2021, stakeholders converged in Abuja to review and validate a revised Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria. The event which was organized by The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in collaboration with the FAIRWAY Programme (and the ACCEL Africa project) was the culmination of an extensive process of updating the previous Code of Conduct which was introduced in 2011.

Amongst other shortcomings of the 2011 document was the limited awareness of its existence by various stakeholders, inadequate adherence and application of its normative framework, and its lack of effectiveness in addressing issues such as unregistered recruiters. The revised Code of Conduct is more comprehensive than its predecessor, and based on the foundation of international labour standards and guidelines, including the Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) and the General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment. It outlines responsibilities of Private Employment Agencies to stakeholders across the entire recruitment cycle, including during recruitment of migrant workers, and sets out disciplinary procedures arising from breaches of any part of the Code of Conduct, as well as the role of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Tarfa represented by the Director of the Employment and Wages Department, Mr John Nyamali identified the Code of Conduct as an important guiding framework to promote fundamental principles and rights at work in Nigeria and in line with the ILO Private Employment Agencies Recommendation, 1997 (No. 188).

Ms Vanessa Phala, Director of the ILO Abuja Country Office also commended the efforts of stakeholders and noted that the revised Code of Conduct could address persistent issues in the industry, particularly the presence of unregistered recruiters. Mr Mühlebach of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation noted Switzerland’s commitment towards promoting safe labour migration processes as demonstrated through supporting targeted interventions in Nigeria for over a decade. Mr Tunji Balogun of the Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria identified the evolution of the recruitment industry in the last decade as a significant justification for reviewing the Code of Conduct to accommodate the new and ever-changing demands and challenges of the business environment.

In 2020, the Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria identified the need to update the existing Code of Conduct for recruiters as a priority activity, and in March 2021, a stakeholders’ meeting to initiate the review process was convened by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in collaboration with the ILO.