Fri | Sep 20, 2019

Labour ministry cautions jobseekers about overseas recruiters

Published:Wednesday | August 28, 2019 | 12:14 AMAvia Collinder/Business Reporter

The Ministry of Labour, in response to advertisements in early August where recruiters sought to attract the attention of business process outsourcing (BPO) workers for the Cayman Islands and also solicit graduate teachers for the United States of America, is cautioning jobseekers to check first with the ministry before they apply.

It also says that overseas recruiters need to register with a local, licensed agency.

The ministry, asked by the Financial Gleaner to review the offers, says it has no policing role under law, but jobseekers should check with them before responding.

“The ministry is requesting that jobseekers who are considering conducting business with any entity which purports to be an employment agency, or which seeks to place them in employment locally or overseas, should consult with the Employment Agencies Unit to ascertain the legality of their operations,” the ministry said through its communications unit.

It added that “if the entity is not operating legally, it is possible that if the arrangement falls through the only recourse the jobseeker may have is to report the matter to the police and seek to have it resolved by the court. When he Ministry is consulted and the necessary checks are conducted, jobseekers are appropriately advised of the legal status of the entity that is under consideration.”

There is no legal provision for the ministry to monitor advertisement of employment opportunities placed in the media. However, if the ministry becomes aware that recruitment is being conducted whether for overseas or local placement by an agency or organisation that does not hold the requisite licence, then an investigation will be conducted.

The ministry cautioned that “the public should be aware of the many reports that are frequently exposed by the media where unsuspecting jobseekers are fleeced of their monies by unscrupulous illegal employment agency operators who are seeking to place persons in overseas jobs.”

The ministry added that it has recently stepped up its campaign against fraudulent operators by reminding the public to be on the alert for such persons/entities.

“Persons who are uncertain about the legitimacy of agencies with which they are seeking to conduct business should contact the Employment Agencies Unit in the ministry to ascertain that these agencies have been issued a licence,” it emphasised.

It said the law requires that persons recruiting and placing persons in jobs, whether locally or overseas, be in possession of a license to do so.

The penalty for non-compliance if one is arrested, prosecuted and convicted is $1 million or one year imprisonment, or both.

The ministry nevertheless notes that “It is not a requirement for overseas employers to register with the ministry. However, the ministry requires that overseas recruiters either conduct business through a licensed agency or through the ministry itself.”

The ministry itself operates an overseas employment programme. On average, 16,000 workers participate in the programme each year. More than 9,000 persons travel to Canada, while just below 7,000 travel to the United States. The ministry also places a small number of workers in Guantanamo Bay annually.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com