International regulations

What is Decent Work?

Since 1999, the ILO works according to the so-called Decent Work Agenda. In the meantime, the Decent Work Agenda has been widely accepted as an important strategy to fight poverty and foster development. The Agenda has been incorporated in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. In short, the idea behind Decent Work is first of all an income, which allows the working individual a good life. Moreover, at work, everybody has an equal chance to develop themselves; working conditions are safe; there is no instance of child and forced/bonded labour; and discrimination does not occur. Trade unions are allowed a real say in work related matters and the state has created a social safety net for all especially for the sick, weak, elderly and expecting women.

What is ILO doing?

The international labour standards are laid down in ILO-Conventions. ILO is the specialised body of the United Nations working on labour issues and was founded in 1919. In the ILO, negotiations are always going on between governments of the member states, national trade unions and employers associations regarding work related issues like rights at work and social protection. These negotiations may take years, but eventually lead to so called Conventions or Recommendations. In Conventions, minimum standards are laid down. Conventions are not the law, but the intention is that member states subscribe to the standard in question. The proper way to do that is to have these Conventions ratified by parliament and then make national laws (Some countries may follow the system of self-executing treaties). National law can be enforced. ILO-Conventions are usually accompanied by Recommendations on how to implement the standards.

About: Decent Work Check

The Decent Work Check makes the pretty abstract Conventions and legal texts tangible. Because, in the end, you want to know what your rights on the job mean in practice, what you may claim and what protection you are entitled to in case something unexpectedly does go wrong. The Decent Work Check employs double comparison system. It first compares national laws with international labour standards and gives a score to the national situation (happy or sad face). On the second level, it allows workers to compare their real situation with national regulations in the country. Workers then compare their own score both at national and international levels. The Decent Work Check is based on de jure labour provisions, as found in the labour legislation. The real practice is informed by the employees themselves. This Check is different from other indices like World Bank's Doing Business Indicators or Women, Business and Law Database or even ISSA's Social Security Programs throughout the World as it is not only descriptive in nature (bereft of any subjective opinions) but also that it covers a lot of different variables. The Revised Decent Work Check is also designed while taking into account upcoming Decent Work Indicators. While Decent Work Indicators focus more on statistics, our priority is informing workers about their rights through this Decent Work Check. Decent Work Check is useful both for employees and employers. It gives them knowledge, which is the first step towards any improvement. It informs employees of their rights at the workplace while simultaneously enlightening employers about their obligations. Decent Work Check is also useful for researchers, labour rights organizations conducting surveys on the situation of rights at work and general public wanting to know more about the world of work.


WageIndicator teams, around the world, have found out that workers, small employers and labour inspectors don't even know the labour law.

When you are informed - being a workers, self-employed, employee, employer, policy maker, labour inspector - there is a greater possibility that you ask for your rights (as a worker), you comply with rules (as an employer) and you strive to enforce these (as a labour inspector). As soon as you complete the DecentWorkCheck, you see which issues need improvement in your work life. 

This is exactly the strategy chosen in the debates in many WageIndicator countries. In the debates with roughly 20-30 people around the table from all sides, the Decent Work Check has soon the effect of a mini social dialogue. The people who run the dialogue are equally well informed.

Decent Work Check Methodology


WageIndicator presents at the Decent Work Day 2013 an other way of comparing labour market regulations worldwide through worker rights perspective. We do this on the basis of the improved DecentWorkCheck and use it to analyse de-jure labour market institutions in nearly 32 countries of the world. These include low, middle and high-income countries (World Bank classification). WageIndicator considers nine important elements of the decent work agenda and convert these into legal indicators/questions that workers can easily respond to and know whether they are employed in decent working conditions or not. De-facto institutions will only be informed by workers using these Checks in meetings, awareness raising campaigns organised by Wage Indicator Foundation in our sample countries. Through DecentWorkCheck Wage Indicator introduces an online and offline tool that can be used by workers to benchmark their condition against national and international work standards. The tool creates awareness among workers and employers about their rights and obligations vis-à-vis international labour standards. This paper documents the methodology we would use in creating DecentWorkCheck and ranking of countries. It also presents a prototype of Revised DecentWorkCheck for Pakistan. Based on this methodology and revised Check, WageIndicator Foundation will create many more Checks.