International Labor Law

International labor law is the body of international legal norms that regulates issues concerning work. It is the body of rules spanning public and private international law which concerns the rights and duties of employees, employers, trade unions, and governments in regulating the workplace. This law covers both the substantive rules of law established at the international level and the procedural rules relating to their adoption and implementation at the national level. The International Labour Organization and the World Trade Organization have been the main international bodies involved in reforming labor markets.

The principal international institution that develops and enforces international labor law is the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations with the mandate to promote social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. International labor standards are a set of rules produced by the ILO to protect the rights of workers and to make sure they have good working conditions. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection, and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO is the source of international labor law that is embodied in its Conventions and Recommendations and the documents that emanate from the supervisory mechanism responsible for the application of those international labor standards.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have indirectly driven changes in labor policy by demanding structural adjustment conditions for receiving loans or grants. The adoption of labor laws and regulations is an important means of implementing ILO standards, promoting the ILO Declaration and the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and putting the concept of Decent Work into practice. Issues regarding Conflict of laws arise, determined by national courts when people work in more than one country, and supra-national bodies, particularly in the law of the European Union, has a growing body of rules regarding labor rights. This includes assistance in the development of national laws and regulations to allow the ratification of Conventions or implementation of the corresponding principles. In such matters as hours of work, health and safety conditions, or industrial relations, the statutory or collective elements may define most of the substance of the rights and obligations of the individual worker, while with respect to such things as the duration of his appointment, his level and extent of responsibility. The organizations also help businesses stay on track and remain compliant by being a direct resource for education on the rules and regulations regarding labor laws in specific countries.