Labor law: the main principles

Labor law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees. In general, labor law provides a broad framework within which individual employment relationships develop.

While labor law in its modern form is a creation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, its history reaches back to the start of the Industrial Revolution and the arising of the factory system and the problems associated with it.

The right to work

It is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in many international and regional human rights instruments. means that everyone has the right to the opportunity to gain their living by work which they freely choose or accept, and that they are able to work in conditions which are safe and which respect their human dignity.

is essential for the realization of other human rights. It is a key element in the fight against poverty and plays a vital role in social inclusion and in the promotion of gender equality. is also essential for the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

is not absolute. It may be subject to certain limitations, provided that these are in accordance with international law and are necessary to protect public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the UN agency responsible for promoting the realization of the right to work. The ILO has developed a comprehensive body of international labour standards which set out the basic principles and rights relating to work. These standards are binding on ILO member States.

The right to fair pay

It is a principle of labor law that requires employers to pay employees for their work in a way that is just and equitable. This means that employers must pay employees for their time, skills, and experience in a way that is fair and reasonable. This principle also requires employers to provide employees with benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off, that are fair and reasonable.

The right to form and join a trade union

This right is also recognized in many national constitutions and labor laws. is essential for the effective protection of workers' rights and for the promotion of social justice.

Trade unions play a vital role in promoting and protecting the rights of workers. They help to ensure that workers are treated fairly, receive decent wages and working conditions, and have a voice in the workplace. Trade unions also play an important role in advocating for social and economic justice.

is not absolute. In some cases, such as when a trade union is engaged in illegal activities, the right may be restricted. However, any restrictions must be necessary and proportionate.

The right to health and safety in the workplace

It is based on the principle that workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. This right includes the right to be free from exposure to hazardous conditions, the right to receive training and information about health and safety risks, and the right to participate in decisions about health and safety in the workplace. is protected by national and international law.

The right to equal treatment in the workplace

Workers are entitled to equal treatment in the workplace. This means that they should not be treated less favourably than other workers because of their race, colour, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Workers should also not be treated less favourably because they are pregnant or because they have family responsibilities.

Equal treatment in the workplace includes the right to the same wages and conditions of work as other workers. It also includes the right to the same access to training and development opportunities, and the right to be considered for promotion on the same basis as other workers.

The right to equal treatment in the workplace is set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This Declaration has been adopted by the International Labour Conference, the supreme governing body of the ILO, and is binding on all Member States of the ILO.

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