The Sectoral Activities Department is the ILO’s repository of knowledge on sector-specific labour and social issues. Research and studies conducted, in line with the ILO’s research policies, deal with emerging and priority issues of strong interest for ILO’s sectoral constituents.

Working Papers, vehicles for disseminating information on a range of topics related to the world of work and the evolution of social and labour policies and practices for a given sector, are regularly published and widely disseminated. Background reports and issues papers, which provide more in-depth analysis on specific issues, are also published for discussion at international tripartite meetings and global dialogue fora.


  1. International Framework Agreements in the food retail, garment and chemicals sectors: Lessons learned from three case studies

    31 May 2018

    With a focus on three recent IFAs in three economic sectors, this working paper is a contribution to the growing body of knowledge on international framework agreements. It complements existing and ongoing research on national and cross-border social dialogue and international framework agreements by other international and regional organizations and by the ILO itself.

  2. Back to the Future: Challenges and opportunities for the future of work addressed in ILO sectoral meetings since 2010

    10 May 2018

    This working paper summarises how issues directly related to the future of work have been discussed by ILO constituents in sectoral meetings held since 2010, as further material for reflection by the Global Commission on the Future of Work, as it carries out its important and ambitious programme of work. It has also been prepared to inform and inspire ILO constituents in specific sectors, who in recent years have launched their own debates and exchanges at national, regional and global levels on the future of work.

  3. Sectoral Policies Department - Highlights 2016-17

    09 March 2018

    The Sectoral Policies Department (SECTOR) is responsible for providing support to ILO constituents in addressing employment and labour issues in specific economic and social sectors at the global, regional and national levels.

  4. The flexibility clauses of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188)

    26 February 2018

    This sectoral working paper discusses the various types of flexibility clauses found in the Work in Fishing convention, 2007 (No. 188), with a view to assisting those considering making use of these clauses when ratifying and implementing the Convention. Working papers are preliminary documents circulated to stimulate discussion and obtain comments.


  1. Decent work for migrant fishers

    15 August 2017

    Report for discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Issues Relating to Migrant Fishers (Geneva, 18–22 September 2017)

  2. Improving Employment and working conditions in health services

    21 March 2017

    This report has been prepared by the International Labour Office as a basis for discussions at the Tripartite Meeting on Improving Employment and Working Conditions in Health Services, to be held from 24 to 28 April 2017 in Geneva. It provides an overview on recent developments in the health sector and reviews challenges and opportunities for enhancing decent work in health services.

  3. South Africa: Case study on working time organization and its effects in the health services sector

    21 March 2017

    The present working paper explores the complex issues around working time organization and their effects in the health services sector in South Africa. It is one of the products of a research initiative jointly carried out by the ILO Working Conditions and Equality Department (WORKQUALITY) and the ILO Sectoral Policies Department (SECTOR), in follow-up to the Conclusions of the Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Working Time Arrangements (2011). The research initiative aimed to develop a better understanding on how contemporary working time arrangements function in specific sectors and for different types of workers with the main objective of identifying aspects where improvements in working time arrangements and related practices can better meet both workers’ needs and organizational requirements.

  4. Wastewater and jobs: The Decent Work approach to reducing untreated wastewater

    21 March 2017

    This working paper discusses the potential of investments of wastewater and how they impact productivity, livelihoods, job creation, skills needs, occupational safety and health, and women’s employment. It further identifies the respective roles of the public and private sectors and of cooperatives.

  5. Rural teachers in Africa: a report for ILO

    08 February 2017

    Lack of access to education in rural areas is one of the main development challenges in education. Evidence shows that primary school enrolment rates in rural areas lag behind urban rates in most developing countries. In rural areas, learning outcomes are lower, and completion rates for girls lag behind those in urban areas. Teacher quality is lower, pupil-to-teacher ratios are higher, and teacher retention and teacher absenteeism are larger problems. This paper examines African responses to the rural teacher challenge, and highlights good practices and approaches aimed at fostering motivated and qualified teachers for rural areas.

  6. Sectoral Guidelines

    03 February 2017

    ILO Sectoral Guidelines are reference tools setting out principles that can be reflected in the design and implementation of policies, strategies, programmes, legislation, administrative measures and social dialogue mechanisms in a particular economic or social sector or cluster of (sub)- sectors. Sectoral Guidelines are adopted by a Meeting of Experts comprising governments, employers and workers. They can be implemented progressively to take into account different national settings, cultures, and social, economic and political contexts.