Tighter rules for shady recruitment agencies are finally on the horizon

Tighter rules for shady recruitment agencies are finally on the horizon

Many migrant workers work and live here in appalling conditions. This has been known for years, but until now not much has been done about it. While examples are widely available.

Second class citizens

Migrant workers — who run distribution centers, cleaning companies, and agricultural and horticultural businesses — are confined to homes like second-class citizens. This causes so much friction that in one year five migrant workers were killed by their housemates.

When migrant workers lose their jobs, they often lose their shelter and end up on the streets. Or they end up in a tent in the bush near major cities.

Housing requirements

The new law – which has been debated for a long time – would make it more difficult for the thousands of malicious recruitment agencies that cause it. The aim of the law is to ensure that recruitment agencies take better care of the people they recruit, even if there is no work for a while.

The most important components of the law at a glance:

  • Recruitment agencies must be accredited as of 2026
  • They must pay a deposit of €100,000
  • If they do not adhere to the rules, they may lose their certificate
  • Accommodation must meet minimum requirements
  • Migrant workers may not be immediately expelled from their homes upon the expiration of their employment contracts

The fact that a law has been introduced to “regulate at least something” is progress, says SP leader Jamie Dick. However, according to him, the law is still insufficient. “Regarding the special plan, we want to reintroduce work permits and temporarily halt labor migration.”

Sleeping in a parking garage

Polish couple Anna and Arthur – their surnames are known to editors – are hopeful about the new law. She lost her cleaning job after injuring her hand. She found a place in a shelter for homeless immigrants.

“It is very difficult,” she says. “We do not sleep well.” Her fiancé sleeps in a parking garage. A homeless organization tried to help him find work. It worked. Arthur got a job at a meat processor. But he still sleeps in the parking garage.

The rules are not until 2026

Unfortunately for him and other migrant workers, the new rules of the law will not take effect for the time being. The House and Senate still have to vote on it. Even if this happens without delay, the new rules are not expected to take effect until January 1, 2026.

In fact, this was supposed to happen a year ago. But the authorities who should check whether companies are actually complying with the law are not yet ready. Outgoing Minister Karin Van Gennep reported this to the House of Representatives in October.

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