COVID-19 and the world of work

Sectoral impact, responses and recommendations


The ILO’s preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on specific social and economic sectors and industries is captured in a series of sectoral briefs.

The briefs also contain policy responses and measures taken by ILO constituents – governments, employers and workers – as well as available ILO tools and responses at the sector-specific level.

The intended audience is ILO constituents at the national, sectoral, regional and global level, as well as international organizations and other partners in the effort to advance decent work for women and men in specific social and economic sectors.

The briefs will be updated regularly.

Constituents are invited to comment on and contribute to the briefs so that they can serve as repository of good practices and lessons learned in pandemic responses in order to “build back better” in the post-pandemic future.​

Please share your views with covidresponsesector@ilo.org
  1. COVID-19 and road transport

    The road transport sector is essential to social and economic development and guarantees mobility across jurisdictions and countries. But in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries around the world have placed restrictions on domestic transit and/or closed border crossings for road freight transport services. Urgent action by governments, the social partners and parties to road transport supply chain parties – including shippers, receivers, transport buyers and intermediaries – will be critical in addressing decent work challenges for these key workers to tackle the crisis effectively.

  2. COVID-19 and Public Emergency Services

    This policy brief addresses issues relating to public sector workers who perform frontline duties in confronting the COVID-19 crisis in the name of the State, often described in statutes as essential services. The brief discusses their role in dealing with the crisis, the measures that governments have taken to support their work and the ILO principles and tools, including international labour standards, that protect them.

  3. COVID-19 and the automotive industry

    The automotive industry has been hit by a triple whammy: factory closures, supply chain disruption, and a collapse in demand. Just-in-time manufacturing processes have propagated the impact across the globe. Small and medium enterprises are among those hardest hit and millions of jobs are at risk. Automakers are key to kick-starting the global economy. Not only by producing life-saving ventilators and facemasks. Sustainable industrial policies and targeted support and are key to a lasting recovery – to building back better – with decent work for more women and men.

  4. COVID-19 and food retail

    Food retail workers have emerged as a new category of frontline services during this pandemic. While essential to guaranteeing food security, they are themselves at high risk of exposure to infection and play a key role in food safety. To ensure adequate numbers of food workers, they need access to and training on personal protective equipment and hygiene protocols, as well as working conditions that provide adequate wages and access to social protection, including paid sick leave.

  5. COVID-19 and the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries

    The viability of the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries is unravelling, as workers are told to stay at home, factories close, and global supply chains grind to a halt. The cancellation of orders has hit thousands of firms and millions of workers particularly hard. We urgently need solidarity and joint action across the industries’ supply chains. The ILO is committed to supporting governments in protecting the health and economic well-being of workers and businesses in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries.

  6. COVID-19 and civil aviation

    To curb the spread of COVID-19, a combination of flight cancellations and restrictions have almost entirely halted international travel. The impact of the pandemic on employment has been immediate and significant. Cost-reduction strategies may include a wide range of policies that will have an impact on employment and decent work in the civil aviation sector. The ILO has accumulated experience from previous crisis situations to help the sector recover from this shock.

  7. COVID-19 and the health sector

    The COVID-19 crisis is drawing attention to the already overburdened public health systems in many countries, and to the challenges faced in recruiting, deploying, retaining and protecting sufficient well-trained, supported and motivated health workers. It highlights the strong need for sustainable investment in health systems, including in the health workforce, and for decent working conditions, training and equipment, especially in relation to personal protective equipment and occupational safety. Social dialogue is essential to building resilient health systems, and therefore has a critical role both in crisis response and in building a future that is prepared for health emergencies.

  8. COVID-19 and the education sector

    Teachers have had to adapt to a world of almost universal distance education as nearly 94 per cent of all learners have faced school closures. Most teachers and their organizations have embraced this challenge, although in many developing countries teachers lack the skills and equipment to provide distance education effectively. As governments consider reopening school as confinement measures are relaxed, the safety of learners and teachers should be paramount, and social distancing of learners, access to personal protective equipment, and regular virus testing will be key.

  9. COVID-19 and maritime shipping & fishing

    Shipping carries most world trade, and fishing provides essential food. The pandemic impacts the safety and well-being of seafarers and fishers, their ability to join their vessels and return home, and the future of their jobs. Seafarers on cruise ships, which have often barred from entering port, are particularly hard hit. The ILO is working to protect these key maritime workers as the world seeks to protect public health.

  10. COVID-19 and the tourism sector

    Tourism is a major driver of jobs and growth. But COVID-19 has dramatically changed this. The impact on tourism enterprises and workers, the majority being young women, is unprecedented. Timely, large-scale and, in particular, coordinated policy efforts both at international and national levels are needed in consultation with governments, employers’ and workers’ representatives, taking into consideration relevant ILO international labour standards.

  11. COVID-19 and the impact on agriculture and food security

    While working to feed the world, many agricultural workers are unable to lift themselves out of poverty and food insecurity. As the pandemic spreads, the continued functioning of food supply chains is crucial in preventing a food crisis and reducing the negative impact on the global economy. Coordinated policy responses are needed to support agribusiness and the livelihoods and working conditions of millions of agricultural workers in line with relevant international labour standards.