Ministries of labour: comparative overview. History, mandate, challenges world-wide database and organizational charts

The main purpose of this publication is to provide ILO constituents and other readers with an analysis of current developments and trends in ministries of labour all around the world.


A special focus is put on the role of labour administration on promotion of industrial relations as it is a specific feature which makes ministries of labour rather unique among governmental bodies.

In addition, this paper gives information on the assistance the ILO has been recently providing in evaluating and enhancing the institutional capacity of ministries of labour. Indeed, especially during the last four or five years, the number of requests from governments to assist in reshaping and modernizing ministerial structures, improve their management methods or to enhance their labour inspection capacities have been on the increase. We have been providing this assistance not to standardize ministerial structures, in order to fit them into some predetermined framework, but to assess their functioning taking into account mainly international comparative practices in an effort to make them better adapted to the needs of modern administration.

Last, but not least, this working paper is providing the reader with practical information about ministerial structures, mandates, addresses, websites and telephone numbers. We are aware of the fact that this information is sometimes better available online and some details may be outdated even before this working paper is printed. However, we should not have an illusion that the whole world is perfectly connected to the Internet. The digital divide might be narrowing, but– as we can see in ILO assessment reports all over the world – access to modern communication technologies is a challenge inmost developing countries. We thus prepared this publication having in mind ILO’s constitutional obligation to collect and distribute information on labour related matters and to promote cooperation between its member states through horizontal networking between labour administrations all over the world.