COVID-19 and the World of Work

Responses to COVID-19: International Labour Standards and tripartite cooperation needed, says the ILO

ILO tools developed over 100 years help to address effectively the global crisis of COVID-19.

Press release | ILO Geneva | 29 June 2020

(ACTRAV INFO)-International Labour Standards and policy responses developed by the International Labour Organization over the last 100 years   are vital tools which will help mitigate the effects of the social and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,  says a new ILO study.

According to a new book, “An ILO for All Seasons”, international cooperation and social dialogue with the involvement of employers and workers’ organizations  are necessary to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“2020 will be remembered as the year the world of work was brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic. While more creativity and innovation will be required, the experience gained over the ILO’s 100 years of existence represent a major asset to support governments and social partners in these difficult times. In a world where multilateralism is in danger, we hope that this study will stimulate discussions on the best strategies for an effective global response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maria Helena André, Director of the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities.

The book, authored by Kari Tapiola, former Deputy Director-General of the ILO traces the development of International Labour Standards and policy responses and the ways they have been successfully  applied during several crises over the last hundred years. Based on these experiences, the  makes a number of recommendations:


  • Special attention and support are needed for two vulnerable groups: personnel in charge of the physical safety and well-being of the population (medical and emergency workers) and those who are exposed to the pandemic (in particular women, minorities and migrant workers);
  • Centralised national responses are needed by states to effectively address the fall-out from the pandemic;
  • Social Dialogue and tripartite cooperation should be revitalised  to  help states design and implement effective policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Effective responses need practical knowledge of the environmental circumstances and conditions of work that have  led to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Multilateral cooperation and global solidarity are indispensable for medium and long-term recovery, and this calls for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ILO’s Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the ILO has developed a four–pillar policy framework, based on International Labour Standards, to assist its constituents: Stimulating the economy and employment (pillar 1); Supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes (pillar 2); Protecting workers in the workplace (pillar 3) and Relaying on Social Dialogue for Solutions (pillar 4).

For more information, please contact:

Mamadou Kaba SOUARE
Communication and Information Officer
Bureau for the Workers'Activities (ILO/ACTRAV)
Tel:+41 22 799 74 08