Building on the power of worker-led organizations
to tackle debt bondage


Low-waged migrant workers underpin much of the global economy and are among the most vulnerable to serious exploitation, including debt bondage and forced labor. Despite this global prevalence, there are currently no existing accurate, transparent calculations of the recruitment costs paid by migrant workers. There are an estimated 169 million labor migrants globally, with over 24 million working in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and over 2 million working in Malaysia. Workers in the Bangladesh-Malaysia and India-GCC corridors are a focus of the FFACT project because these worker populations are especially vulnerable to debt stemming from high recruitment fees and related costs.

There has been a dramatic increase in demand for labor recruitment cost information, driven by a variety of new and emerging human rights due diligence (HRDD) legislation across the United States, Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom. This data is key for addressing exploitation of migrant workers in all types of supply chains because an important indicator of forced labor is debt bondage. Companies, governments, as well as workers’ and civil society organizations are seeking greater access to recruitment cost data to drive their actions to address debt bondage.   Debt bondage occurs when workers borrow to pay for their own recruitment to a job, and face indebtedness during employment. Verité’s extensive experience tracing labor supply chains shows that the majority of migrant workers pay for recruitment costs, and as a result, face vulnerability to exploitation due to indebtedness during employment. Despite the prevalence, there are currently extremely limited data collection tools or mechanisms available to calculate the real recruitment costs paid by migrant workers.


The Fostering Fee Accountability and Cost Tracing (FFACT) Project supports migrant workers’ communities to address labor exploitation. Beginning in 2022, the FFACT project has engaged civil society and workers’ organizations in the India-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Bangladesh-Malaysia labor recruitment corridors. The project partners have field-tested worker-centered, digital methods to collect recruitment cost data. With this data in the hands of workers’ organizations, the FFACT project seeks to promote data-driven, worker-centered, cross-sectoral interventions to address debt-related exploitation of migrant workers.


The FFACT Project in Action

Worker-centered migration guidance promotes resilience to exploitation

Build Awareness
Build Awareness

Increase civil society awareness of methods for monitoring debt bondage risks faced by migrant workers. Promote CSO capacities to provide data for human rights due diligence initiatives in supply chains. Increase worker awareness and understanding of vulnerabilities to recruitment fees and debt bondage-related labor exploitation.


Empowerment by worker-centric data
Promote Worker-Centric Data

Field test data collection and analysis methods with local civil society organizations through transparent recruitment fee tracking methods and digital tools. Promote capacities of workers’ organizations to provide data for human rights due diligence initiatives in supply chains.

Advance evidence-based advocacy
Evidence-Based Advocacy

Improve evidence-based interventions to address debt bondage exploitation through cross-stakeholder dialogues.

Project Partners

To engage worker-communities, Verité is partnering with more than seven civil society organizations focused on combating labor exploitation, particularly for migrant workers.

In India, Verité is partnering with two local civil society organizations dedicated to community-based and survivor-led interventions to end modern slavery, and mobilizing communities effected by child labor, bonded labor, debt bondage, and other forms of labor exploitation.

In Bangladesh and Malaysia, FFACT project partners include organizations with a strong track record of worker interviews and data collection to identify labor issues, which are building capacities of grassroots, worker-led migrant-worker advocacy organizations.

Fifty Eight, based in the United Kingdom, develops and maintains the Just Good Work app for migrant workers in its programming aimed at identifying and taking action to address exploitation in supply chains.

FFACT resources to engage workers

Resources for Engaging with Migrant Workers

    • Handbooks
    • Infographics
    • Videos
    • Reports

Statements from Organizations Participating in FFACT Activities

“For me personally, it changed my perceptions… about not only looking to see if [workers] get minimum wage or piece rate, but more so is that there is debt bondage happening.”

Partner Organization Participant

“Widened my view [on debt bondage] …
it involves so many companies and agencies.”

Training Participant



The FFACT Project is generously funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).
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