Labour law

A major means of ILO action

The adoption of national labour laws and regulations is an important means of implementing international labour standards, guaranteeing Decent Work and promoting the Rule of Law. As they regulate constantly evolving employment and industrial relations, labour laws are subject to regular assessment and reforms. Under the ILO Constitution, the Office is committed to extending its advisory services to Member States and to assist tripartite constituents in assessing and , where necessary, framing or revising their national labour laws. The Office provides technical advice based on international labour law and comparative labour law best practices.

How the ILO helps

  • First, the Office provides technical comments on draft labour legislation prepared by Member States themselves. This is being done on the basis of a desk review by a wide range of ILO technical experts. Comprehensive Technical Memorandum are provided to Member States and Government are expected to share ILO advice with national social partners.
  • Secondly, the Office provides comparative legal information. A database on Protection of Employment Legislation provides constantly up-dated information on national laws on types of contract of employment and their individual or collective termination. Upon request, specific comparative information on other critical issues of labour laws are also provided.
  • Thirdly, the Office may also be called upon to assist national labour law reform processes by facilitating: i) the assessment of the law, ii) the national policy debates and the tripartite consultation processes, iii) the legal drafting and iv) its adoption by the national authorities.

The challenges

The changing economic and technological patterns of the last decade as well as the globalization of the economy have lead to an increase in international trade between countries with different levels of social and labour protection. It is against this changing background that the role of labour law has been called in question, especially from the standpoint of the relationship between workers protection and international cooperation.

It is now increasingly accepted that a regulatory framework is essential if globalization is to be both socially and economically sustainable in the long term. Such a framework must include, as a minimum, all the rights and principles laid out in the ILO fundamental Conventions but the content and scope of the other work-related rules remain open to question. The Office is frequently called upon to provide advice on the basis of international and comparative labour law in order to help to cast light on the debate at the national level.

Member States request ILO advice in the field of labour law with a view to responding to various needs such as:
  • to develop national law so that it can fully implement ratified ILO standards;
  • to assess and, where necessary, reorganize the framework regulating the labour market with a view to adapting it to meet the country's current needs and challenges;
  • to take account of emerging types of employment relationships so that they can be provided with a suitable regulatory framework;
  • to be informed on good practices with regard to a given field.

Various forms of ILO intervention in the field of labour law

The labour law assistance provided by the Office can take different forms, including the following:
  • Advice on the revision of the labour law;
  • Assessment of the existing law enforcement machinery and procedures, including recommendations for improvements;
  • Technical information on a wide range of labour law subjects;
  • Training of national officials – support for the development of national competency.