Labour rights

Farmer woman

As highlighted in the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization (2008), social security and the fundamental principles and rights at work are inseparable, interrelated and mutually supportive. There are many ways in which social security interrelates with fundamental principles and rights at work.

For example, the recognition of freedom of association opened the way for worker mutual solidarity organizations to collectively share the risks related to loss of health or income. These response mechanisms ultimately paved the way for modern social security institutions and in particular the democratic participation of social partners in the management of social security systems. Today, freedom of association and collective bargaining are seen as indispensable for setting up supplementary social security benefits that are created and managed by social partners themselves. The ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) are the ILO fundamental conventions with regards to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is not only a means used by social partners to extend and guarantee more favourable social security benefits but it is also used to establish and regulate social security schemes at the corporate, industry-wide and national level.

Family and child benefits, facilitating access to education, are known to be effective means for the abolition of child labour (in this regard refer to ILO Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)).

Most national security systems also recognise the principle of equality of treatment and non-discrimination as general principles underpinning the design and functioning of these. In particular matters of social security, equality of treatment should be ensured between protected and unprotected persons; between men and women, in particular as regards retirement age, and between national and foreign workers.  ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) are of particular relevance in this regard.

Social protection systems are also closely interrelated with other areas of labour rights. In some countries, some aspects of the right to social security are defined in labour legislation, including in the areas of compensation during sick leave and maternity leave, in case of employment injury, as well as with regard to severance pay. Increasingly there is also a move towards coordinating unemployment benefits with active labour market policies to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment (see ILO Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988 (No. 168).

 

Photo credit: “Farmer weeding maize field in Bihar, India” by International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Expert Commentaries

Poor Access to WASH: a barrier for women in the workplace

On 19 November, we mark World Toilet Day and highlight the staggering fact that 2.4 billion people – one third of the world’s population – still live without access to proper sanitation. What does this mean for women in the workplace? Poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) persists despite the United Nations General […]

Eliminating Unacceptable Forms of Work: A global challenge

An increasing proportion of the world’s labour force is working in conditions of insecurity, low pay and inadequate social protection. In the wake of the global economic crisis, precarious jobs have proliferated in advanced industrialized countries. In settings where informal work has long been widespread, many jobs are of very low quality and there are […]

Legal Instruments

Bekendtgørelse (Nr 1394 af 2008) af lov om forbud mod forskelsbehandling på arbejdsmarkedet m.v.

This law prohibits discrimination in the labour market. Link to law

National Policy on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work

This policy, based on principles of human rights, aims to guide the national response to HIV/AIDS in reducing and managing the impact of the epidemic in the world of work. Specifically the policy aims to: Prevent transmission of HIV infection amongst workers and their families; Protect rights of those who are infected and provide access […]

Code du travail haïtien

Article 320 -322. Le Code du travail examine les conditions d’obtention d’un conge maternité, sa durée et son indemnisation, ainsi que, dans l’Article 331, les conditions d’allaitement sur le lieu de travail.  

Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (No. 19)

Article 4.2 establishes an employee’s right to continuous employment in the event that the employee is absent from work due to taking annual, maternity or sick leave, or another type of leave. Article 8.1 states that the following reasons do not constitute good or sufficient cause for dismissal or for imposition of disciplinary action: (a) […]

Prevention of Discrimination Act, Chapter 99:09

This Act prohibits discrimination in employment, training, recruitment and membership in professional bodies, and promotes equal pay between men and women who perform work of equal value.  

Reglamento para el goce del periodo de lactancia.

Determina que toda madre en época de lactancia puede disponer en los lugares en donde trabaja, de media hora de descanso dos veces al día con el objeto de alimentar a su hijo, salvo que por convenio o costumbre corresponda un descanso mayor.  

Reglamento de la Ley de Servicio Civil. Acuerdo Gubernativo 18-98.

Establece que las madres servidoras del Estado tendrán derecho al descanso pre y post natal de acuerdo con lo prescrito por las disposiciones del Instituto guatemalteco de seguridad social. La servidora no protegida por el programa de maternidad del Instituto guatemalteco de seguridad social, tendrá derecho a licencia con goce de salario o sueldo por […]

Employment Act No. 14

This Act provides regulations relating to workers’ wages, leave, and general matters pertaining to workers’ welfare.

Employment Act No. 14 (Modified 2000)

The 2000 modification of the Employment Act No. 14 establishes workers’ rights to maternity leave and maternity benefits.

Decreto 275 reforma al Código de Trabajo

Prohíbe demandar un examen de embarazo previo a contrato.

Legal Cases

The Right to Decent Work and Freedom of Association in Peru

This is the first judgment delivered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that recognizes the direct enforceability of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) under Article 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights. In this case, a labor leader successfully asserted a claim against Peru for violating his rights to work, to freedom […]

Access to Leave from Work for Domestic Violence in Australia

Law Four-yearly review of modern awards under section 156 of the federal Fair Work Act 2009. Reasoning Building on the success of collective bargaining for clauses supporting workers facing domestic and gender-based violence (GBV), and concerned for female and male workers not covered by agreements, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) put a case […]

Regional Protection against HIV-Based Discrimination in the Armed Forces

The decision originated in separate employer decisions to discharge from the Mexican Army two HIV-positive servicemen who had tested for the virus in standard army-run medical examinations. In the first case, J.S.C.H. had been in the army as a driver for 19 years. The second case involved M.G.S., an infantry corporal with twelve years’ service. […]

The Rights to Work and Health in The Sudan

Nature of the Case Upon consideration of a communication submitted before it, the African Commission held that in its persecution of human rights defenders, the government of Sudan violated several provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights to work and health. Summary In 2012, the African Commission on Human […]

Access to courts and the right to work for informal traders in South Africa

Upon an urgent request, the Constitutional Court of South Africa intervened in a lower court affair to prevent the municipal government and Metropolitan Police Force from hindering what was asserted to be lawful activity by informal traders under the auspices of “Operation Clean Sweep”. Until the legality of the program that prevented trading in public […]

Resources

Innovative approaches for ensuring universal social protection for the future of work

Social protection systems around the world face challenges to provide full and effective coverage for workers in all forms of employment, including those in “new” forms of employment. While some emerging work and employment arrangements may provide greater flexibility for workers and employers, they may lead to significant gaps in social protection coverage, at a […]

Eliminating and Preventing Forced Labour: Checkpoints app

This mobile app allows business managers and auditors to create interactive checklists that will help them ensure a forced labour-free operation. There are 38 checkpoints in total – each one provides best-practice recommendations for taking action. A PDF version is also available.

The impact of HIV and AIDS on the world of work: Global estimates

The majority of people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS are of working age. It is essential to understand and measure the economic and social impacts of the epidemic on the labour force. Bringing together health data, in particular HIV prevalence data, with labour force, economic and demographic data, the report sets out […]

Organizing On-Demand: Representation, Voice, and Collective Bargaining in the Gig Economy

This paper examines challenges to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining for workers in the gig economy, and explores the broad range of strategies that gig-economy workers are using to build collective agency, and to promote effective regulation of gig work.

Exporting, Importing and Wages in Africa: Evidence from matched employer-employee data

This paper studies wages in exporting and importing firms of the manufacturing sector in Africa, using firm-level data and employer-employee-level data from the World Bank Enterprise Surveys. We find that exporters pay on average higher wages to their workers than non-exporters. Gains from economies of scale explain the positive wage premium of exporters, rather than […]

The Future of Work: A Literature Review

An enormous amount of literature has emerged over the last few years in the context of the “future of work”. Academics, think tanks and policy makers have fuelled rich discussions about how the future of work might look and how we can shape it. Indeed, labour markets in developing and developed countries are likely to […]

World Employment Social Outlook: Greening with Jobs (2018)

While climate change mitigation measures may cause short-term job losses, the report shows that a just transition to a more sustainable economy offers much potential for job creation and the promotion of decent work. The report also looks at key issues linked with the path to a greener economy, including macroeconomic and environmental policy, public […]

Improving the Safety and Health of Young Workers

The ILO has prepared this brief for the 2018 World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which aims to promote a safe and healthy generation. The goals of the brief are to describe the OSH risks faced by young workers and to encourage a global conversation on the need to improve their safety and […]

Building Trade Union Power with Gender Equality: The Case of the Unified Workers’ Central of Brazil

The Unified Workers’ Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores, CUT) of Brazil, one of the world’s largest trade union federations, the most important in Latin America, and the country’s most representative, in 2015 implemented gender parity in its decision making bodies at national and state level. With this step it put itself at the forefront of […]

Women at work: addressing the gaps

Despite progress in education and health worldwide, women still face significant barriers to engage as full economic citizens. There are significant gender gaps in wages and labour market participation. In many cases, women also face barriers and lack the assets needed to become entrepreneurs. These inequalities remain large, persistent and pervasive in many parts of […]

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