International Labour Standards on Wages

Most people work in order to earn money. Yet in many parts of the world, access to adequate and regular wages is not guaranteed. In numerous countries, non-payment of wages has led to huge wage arrears, and wages are sometimes paid in bonds, manufactured goods, or even alcohol. Large wage arrears have been linked to debt bondage and slavery. In other countries, workers face loss of wages when their employer goes bankrupt. Before the 2008 economic crisis, the link between wages and labour productivity was already broken in many countries and this contributed to the creation of global economic imbalances. The Global Jobs Pact, adopted by the ILO Conference in 2009, made several references to minimum wages as one of the means of responding to such crisis, and Convention No. 131 is the only ILO instrument to which it refers specifically in that regard. When wages rise in line with productivity increases, they are both sustainable and create a stimulus for further economic growth by increasing households’ purchasing power. ILO standards on wages address these problems by providing for regular payment of wages, the fixing of mini- mum wage levels, and the settlement of unpaid wages in case of employer insolvency.

Selected relevant ILO instruments

Further information

  • Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949 (No. 94) and Recommendation (No. 84): A practical guide (2008) - [PDF]
  • General Survey concerning Labour Clauses in Public Contracts (2008) - [PDF]
  • General Survey on Protection of Wages (2003) - [PDF]
  • General Survey on Minimum Wages (1992) - [PDF]
  • Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch (INWORK): webpage on Wages