The regulation of working time is one of the oldest concerns of labour legislation. Already in the early 19th century it was recognized that working excessive hours posed a danger to workers' health and to their families. The very first ILO Convention, adopted in 1919 (see below), limited hours of work and provided for adequate rest periods for workers. Today, ILO standards on working time provide the framework for regulated hours of work, daily and weekly rest periods, and annual holidays. These instruments ensure high productivity while safeguarding workers' physical and mental health. Standards on part-time work have become increasingly important instruments for addressing such issues as job creation and promoting equality between men and women.
Selected relevant ILO instruments
- Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1) - [ratifications]
- Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1930 (No. 30) - [ratifications]
These above two conventions set the general standard at 48 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day.
- Forty-Hour Week Convention, 1935 (No. 47) - [ratifications]
- Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No. 116)
These above two instruments set out the principle of the 40-hour workweek.
- Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921 (No. 14) - [ratifications]
- Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957 (No. 106) - [ratifications]
The above two conventions set the general standard that workers shall enjoy a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours every seven days.
- Holidays with Pay Convention (Revised), 1970 (No. 132) - [ratifications]
Every person to whom the convention applies shall enjoy at least three working weeks of annual paid holiday for one year of service.
- Night Work Convention, 1990 (No. 171) - [ratifications]
Requires ratifying states to take measures required by the nature of night work for the protection of night workers. Night work is defined as work performed during a period of not less than seven consecutive hours, including the interval from midnight to 5 a.m. Also requires alternatives to night work to be offered to women for specified periods during and after pregnancy.
- Part-Time Work Convention, 1994 (No. 175) - [ratifications]
Requires ratifying states to ensure that part-time workers receive the same protection, basic wage and social security, as well as employment conditions equivalent to those accorded to comparable full-time workers.
- Further relevant instruments
- General Survey on Hours of Work (2005) - [pdf]
- Conditions of Work and Employment Programme (TRAVAIL):
- Web page on working time ;
- 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