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. ILO standards on wages address these problems by providing for regular payment of wages, the fixing of minimum wage levels, and the settlement of unpaid wages in case of employer insolvency.
Selected relevant ILO instruments
- Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949 (No. 94) - [ratifications]
Aims at ensuring respect for minimum labour standards in the execution of public contracts.
- Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 (No. 95) - [ratifications]
Wages shall be paid in legal tender at regular intervals; in cases where partial payment of wages is in kind, the value of such allowances should be fair and reasonable. Workers shall be free to dispose of their wages as they choose. In cases of employer insolvency, wages shall enjoy a priority in the distribution of liquidated assets.
- Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 (No. 131) - [ratifications]
Requires ratifying states to establish a minimum wage fixing machinery capable of determining and periodically reviewing and adjusting minimum wage rates having the force of law.
- Protection of Workers' Claims (Employer's Insolvency) Convention, 1992 (No. 173) - [ratifications]
Provides for the protection of wage claims in insolvency and bankruptcy by means of a privilege or through a guarantee institution.
- Further relevant instruments
- Also relevant:
Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) - [ratifications]
Lays down the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
- 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]
- Conditions of Work and Employment Programme (TRAVAIL):
- Web page on wages ;
- Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws: Legislation in force 2008/2009 on minimum wages, working time and maternity protection on more than 100 countries from all regions