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Laos Launches First Private Employment Agency Association

Source: Vientiane Times

The new Lao Employment Business Association has been established to represent private employment agencies in Laos, marking a significant step forward in enhancing responsible business practices and social dialogue.

The Lao Employment Business Association was officially launched in Vientiane on June 28. As the nation’s first-ever industry body representing private employment agencies, the association aims to raise business standards for its members to ensure fair recruitment, particularly for migrant workers.

Speaking at the launch of the Association, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Mrs Baykam Khattiya said “Until today, there has never been a business association to represent private employment agencies in Laos, which has made it more difficult to develop migration governance policies. With the enactment of the Regulation of the Lao Employment Business Association, there will now be an opportunity for employment agencies to be directly involved in social dialogue on the recruitment of migrant workers.”

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The Australian Government, European Union and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have supported the establishment of the Lao Employment Business Association through the TRIANGLE in ASEAN and Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programmes, which facilitated consultations between workers, employers, and the Lao government, as well as providing technical inputs to the Regulation of the Lao Employment Business Association, Mrs Baykham added.

The Regulation of the Lao Employment Service Association, which provides the legal basis for the new association, was adopted in January 2024.

“Having an industry body to represent private employment agencies is vital to improving recruitment practices around migrant workers in Laos, the minister said.
The Australian Ambassador to Laos, Megan Jones, said “Drawing on the lessons learned from TRIANGLE in ASEAN, the Australian Government encourages the Lao Employment Business Association to consider developing a code of conduct to strengthen self-regulation among its member agencies.”

Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Laos, Mrs Ina Marčiulionytė, said the European Union is very pleased to fund the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programme, implemented by the ILO.

“This enables our political commitment to be translated into practical actions in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, such as the launch of the new Lao Employment Business Association.”

“Today’s event is an achievement that has required many years of hard work and commitment. We look forward to cooperating further with all stakeholders to establish an effective employment agency association that supports genuine progress towards fair recruitment practices for Lao migrant workers.”

The new Lao Employment Business Association has been tasked with playing several key roles in improving recruitment practices.

These are (1) To represent employment agencies in government policy meetings; (2) To promote labour force development; (3) To educate its members to operate in accordance with the Association’s regulations and relevant national laws; (4) To collect and share data on labour market needs domestically and abroad; and (5) To strengthen the capacity of its members through collaboration.

The Association will play a significant role in the future development of labour migration governance policies in Laos.
ILO Country Director for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, Xiaoyan Qian, said “The creation of the Lao Employment Business Association is a very positive development.”

“By working together with government and worker representatives, private employment agencies can contribute significantly to a well-managed labour migration process. We have seen in other countries in the region, such as Vietnam, that private sector self-regulation through codes of conduct can improve recruitment practices for migrant workers.”

The TRIANGLE in ASEAN programme is part of the International Labour Organisation’s efforts to increase the benefits and minimise the risks of migration for all migrant workers.

TRIANGLE delivers technical assistance with the overall goal of maximising the contribution of labour migration to an equitable, inclusive and stable growth in ASEAN. The programme is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Global Affairs Canada.

The Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programme is an initiative of the EU and the United Nations, implemented by the ILO in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the overall objective of promoting regular and safe labour migration and decent work for all migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sectors.

The programme addresses the characteristics of work in the fishing and seafood processing sectors as well as the barriers and risks present during migration, which can lead to unsafe migration, decent work deficits, abuse, and forced labour.