RDW network

4th Conference on Regulating for Decent Work: Developing and Implementing Policies for a Better Future at Work

Together with universities from around the globe, the ILO is holding a conference to discuss policies for a better future at work.

"There are fundamental questions to answer on the place and function of work in today's society", said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in his opening address to the conference
The 4th Regulating for Decent Work Conference investigated key dimensions of the future of work and focused on four thematic issues:

+ Worker protection: wages, hours, and the employment relationship;
+ Income security in the era of widening inequality – labour income, social protection, and well-being;
+ Labour market regulation and development – political economy of policy reforms and their outcomes;
+ Reaching out to vulnerable workers: voice, actions, and the role of collective labour relations.

Audio podcasts

  • Opening Plenary session
  • Session on Water and Jobs: Recognizing and formalizing water-related work
    Prof. Jayati Ghosh ( Jawaharlal Nehru University) discusses the need to recognize and formalize the work in water-related activities. Marc van Imshoot (ILO) presents ILO (water related) employment intensive investment programmes in Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Yemen. Carlos R. Carrión-Crespo (ILO) introduces the forthcoming World Water Development Report. Naoko Otobe (ILO) explains how employment policies can lead to improve water supply.
  • Session on Crowdwork and work in the sharing economy [ Part 1 ]: Opportunities and risks of the “gig economy”
    David Durward, (University of Kassel), explores crowdsourcing, crowdwork and their impact on firms and workers. Martin Risak, (University of Wien), focuses on legal aspects of crowdwork while Valerio De Stefano, discusses apps and potential threats to workers' rights in the framework of the “gig economy”. Session chaired by Janine Berg (ILO) and Valerio de Stefano (ILO).
  • Session on Crowdwork and work in the sharing economy [ Part 2 ]: Regulation and current legal trends
    Miriam Cherry (University of St. Louis) explores the current litigation landscape around crowdwork and the sharing economy, arguing for a minimum wage. Antonio Aloisi, (Bocconi University) discusses the standard terms and conditions of the most known platforms, highlighting relevant regulatory questions. Vishaka Wanasinghe, (Finance Ministry of Sri Lanka), explores problems virtual workers may face, from a developing country’s perspective. Session chaired by Janine Berg (ILO) and Valerio de Stefano (ILO).
  • Plenary Session on Vulnerable Work
  • domestic worker organizing models and strategies: a comparative study
    Comparative overview of domestic workers' organizing around the world and provides case studies on Italy and Czech Republic. It also showcases the methodology and results from a study realized in the Netherlands and South Africa on the social security needs of domestic workers, in which domestic workers themselves were empowered as part of the research team.
  • Session on Regulating Domestic Work
    Results from the research project "Gender, Migration, and the Work of Care in Asia-Pacific" under the direction of Prof. Ito Peng, University of Toronto, are presented. Presentations focus on the need for regulation at both the local and transnational levels to address the situation of migrant domestic and care work from a multi-scalar perspective.
  • Session on Claims-making in Domestic Work
    The UNRISD research team shares results of the project "When and Why Do States Respond to Women's Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change in Asia". Prof. Naila Kabeer, London School of Economics, provides an overview of women workers and the politics of claims-making, and case studies on mobilisations of domestic workers from India and Indonesia are presented.
  • Session on Realizing Rights for Domestic Workers
    Insights on how and to what extent institutions of different kinds can improve the working conditions of domestic workers. It covers the impact of formalisation and skills in Portugal, legal reforms in Brazil, cooperatives in South Africa, and wages in the domestic work sector in developing countries.
  • Session on Labour Policies, Practices, and Strategies in Global Supply Chains: ILO Better Work Programme
    Presenting evidence from Better Work programme in Vietnam, Drusilla Brown & Laura Babbitt (Tufts U) analyse non-compliance on wages and hours, and Mark Anner (Penn State U) explores the link between wildcat strikes and social dialogue. Kelly Pike (York U) and Shane Godfrey (UCT) look at the impact of Better Work programme in Lesotho.
  • Session on Labour Policies, Practices, and Strategies in Global Supply Chains: ILO Better Work Programme in Indonesia
    Laura Chirot (MIT), Colin Fenwick (ILO) and Ockert Dupper (ILO) discuss the interaction of private and public labour regulation at global and local levels looking at Better Work programme in Indonesia. Jennifer Bair (U Colorado Boulder) discussed transnational governance mechanisms in global supply chains.


The economic and social crisis still endures on a worldwide scale. Unemployment – particularly youth unemployment – is destructively high, precarious work is expanding, growing numbers of workers are found among the working poor, and an evolving awareness of inequality has galvanized policy debates across the globe. Yet the reforms in policies and institutions that would counteract these trends have yet to materialize.

This policy failure has triggered a broader unease about the future of work. To design policies that could transform this future, however, demands further investigation of complex and intersecting issues that include the role of labour regulation in development strategies; the disproportionate presence of vulnerable workers (e.g. youth, women, minorities, migrant workers) in unacceptable forms of work (UFW); the most effective strategies for protecting workers in fragmented labour markets, curbing income inequality and reducing informality; and the long-run impact of austerity policies.