Two of the biggest employment agencies from the Philippines and Hong Kong have signed a code of conduct that conforms to standards set by the International Labour Organization on fair recruitment and better protection for migrant workers.

The code of conduct contains a no-recruitment fee provision and binds the signatories to strictly adhering to the laws on recruitment in both the sending and receiving countries, sunwebhk.com reported.

They also are bound to charge “reasonable rates” for training and medical tests, provide clear employment contracts, ensure applicants attend pre-departure and post-arrival orientation seminars, monitor the status of workers and provide them with a safe channel for reporting grievances.

The code of conduct was signed at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong on Sunday by Teresa Liu for the Association of Hong Kong Manpower Agencies and Alfredo Palmiery of the Society of Hong Kong-Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines.

Gaela Roudy-Fraser, project manager of the ILO’s Integrated Programme for Fair Recruitment, signed as a witness, along with Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre.

Consul General Antonio A Morales welcomed the move, but noted that Hong Kong association represented a small number of the 1,700 licensed employment agencies in the city. There was a need to reach out to more groups to spread the message about better protection for migrant workers, he said.

Hong Kong was the first country to have a code of conduct of this kind and the organization will expand the project to countries like Qatar, Jordan and Tunisia and cover other industries or sectors.