International Labour Standards on Employment promotion


Convention No. 122 sets out the goal of full, productive and freely chosen employment; other ILO instruments put forward strategies for attaining this aim. Employment services (public and private), the employment of disabled persons, small and medium enterprises and cooperatives all play a part in creating employment. ILO standards in these fields provide guidance on using these means effectively in order to create jobs.

Selected relevant ILO instruments

  • Employment Service Convention, 1948 (No. 88) - [ratifications]
    Requires ratifying states to establish and operate an employment service accessible to everyone, free of charge both to workers and employers.
  • Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) - [ratifications]
    Requires ratifying states to ensure that private employment agencies respect principles on non-discrimination. Provides for cooperation between private and public employment services, general principles to protect jobseekers against unethical or inappropriate practices, and protection of workers under subcontracting arrangements and workers recruited from abroad. Also applies to temporary work agencies.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983 (No. 159) - [ratifications]
    Sets forth the principles of national policy for the vocational rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities and provides for the setting up and evaluation of vocational guidance, vocational training, placement and unemployment services for persons with disabilities.
  • Employment Relationship Recommendation, 2006 (No. 198)
    Provides that member States should formulate and apply a national policy of the protection for workers in an employment relationship. The national policy should include measures to provide guidance on establishing the existence of an employment relationship and on the distinction between employed and self-employed workers, and to combat disguised employment relationships, such as contractual arrangements where the employer treats an individual as other than an employee in a manner that hides his or her true legal status as an employee. The determination of the existence of an employment relationship should be guided primarily by the facts relating to the performance of work and the remuneration of the worker, notwithstanding how the relationship is characterized in a contractual or other arrangement that may exist. The instrument also suggests characteristics and sets forth specific indicators, for determining the existence of an employment relationship.
  • Older Workers Recommendation, 1980 (No. 162)
    Recommends that older workers should, without discrimination on the grounds of their age, enjoy equality of opportunity and treatment in employment.
  • Job Creation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Recommendation, 1998 (No. 189)
    Suggests that member states should adopt measures which are appropriate to national conditions and consistent with national practice in order to promote small and medium-sized enterprises, in regard to their importance in promoting employment and sustainable economic growth.
  • Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193)
    Aims to promote cooperatives, in particular in relation to their role in job creation, mobilizing resources, and generating investment.
  • Further relevant instruments

Securing equal access to employment for disabled workers

In 2000, the Committee of Experts noted that substantial progress had been made in Latin America and Eastern Europe in enabling persons with disabilities to participate more fully in the labour market, particularly in light of the limited resources available. Through pooling of information and some resources, the Latin American Group for Professional Rehabilitation (GLARP) has helped numerous countries in the region to develop innovative programmes for rehabilitation and integration into the labour market. European Union assistance and sharing of information, too, has contributed substantially to improvements in several Eastern European countries. The Committee of Experts noted these intergovernmental cooperative efforts with interest and encouraged other member states to explore ways to share ideas and resources. [see related comment of the Committee of Experts]

Further information

  • The story of the ILO’s Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No.193) (2015) – [pdf]
  • General Survey concerning employment instruments in light of the 2008 Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization (2010) – [pdf]
  • Guide to Private Employment Agencies: Regulation, Monitoring and Enforcement -
    Special Action Programme to combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) and Skills and Employability Department (EMP/SKILLS), ILO, 2007
  • General Survey on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons (1998) - [pdf]