ILO Decent Work Indicators and Work Dignity

ILO Decent Work Indicators and Work Dignity



Decent work considers all the aspirations of all stake holders. International labour organization (ILO) defines decent work as that work that ensures there is productivity and its employees receive an income that is fair; a sort of work where stakeholders do not face security problems; and that which does not neglect the social life of employees and thus takes care of families; in such a work, employees have opportunities to air their views and also to develop at individual level. As well, descent work involves giving employees an opportunity to take part in problem solving in the working place as well as involves them when making decisions. Decent work is a key contributor in ensuring that poverty is reduced as well as ensuring there is bridge between developed word and developing communities.

There is interrelatedness between decent work and work dignity as the latter emanates from the former (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Work dignity is defined by Hudson, (2001) as the establishment of self-worth and respect for self, and acknowledgement of the respect granted by others as well as learning to respect others. To attain and as well defend one’s dignity at work, Hudson advocates for four types of behaviours for one to adopt: being proud of what one is doing and pursuing it efficiently and with passion, maintain good relations at work, always endeavour to understand concepts and always taking control, and lastly declining exploitation and overwork at work place. Dignity at work speaks against forms of mistreatment that may happen at work place (Bolton, 2007). Further Bolton argues that managements should acquire all ingredients that lead to good work, and also as reflected in International Labour Organisation’s aspects of ‘descent work’. If there is no work dignity them mistrusts and a feeling of being alienated ensue and this greatly affect productivity in a company. This paper examines the extent to which work dignity can be achieved in developing countries. It is notable that working conditions in developing countries are poor and actually often draw attention from the governmental bodies, right’s activists and even the media (Robertson, et al, 2016). Researches have highlighted the possibilities of adopting policies by ILO to ensure provision of descent work by companies with this paper coming in to examine how possible it is to ensure there is dignity at work in developing countries.


There are various ILO descent work indicators that developing countries could adopt to ensure there is decency at work place, as well as practicing work dignity by stakeholders. This paper presents them in the order: employment opportunities, unacceptable work, adequate earning s and productive work, descent hours, stability and security, balancing work and family life, fair treatment in employment, safe work environment, social protection, social dialogue and work place relationships, economic and social content of descent work

Employment Opportunities

For decent work to exist there should be fair distribution of work opportunities. Developing countries can only adopt work dignity which leads to descent work by providing employment for its citizens.  In a positive sense labor force’s activities in developing world are able to measure availability of job opportunities for citizens while in a negative sense, this can be determined by the rates of underemployment or even unemployment and as well as lack of job opportunities for the population able and willing to work. ILO in 1964 convention sets a target that should ensure countries promote productive, free and full employment to citizens (No.122). As well advocates that rate of employment should be determined by the current and future number of citizens and equitable distribution of employment and even unemployment among the citizens. This ensure no people in a developing country, that have better jobs or even are unemployed or underemployed than others. If developing countries fully put this in place, then, they ensure to achieve dignity and decency at work places.

Unacceptable Work

ILO decent indicators advocate for the decline of unacceptable work. Something that developing countries should adopt in order to practice decency at work. These countries should therefore acquaint themselves withal forms of unacceptable work in order to ensure it is excluded from measuring levels of employment in a country. Its identification and elimination also ensures there is authentic measuring of employment opportunities. According to the declaration on fundamental principle and right at work by ILO (1998), child labor and forced labour are counted acceptable works. Developing countries should thus restrain from engaging in such.

Adequate Earnings and Productive Work

To ensure there is dignity at work from employees, employers should ensure they provide adequate pay as per the living standards of the people in the developing country as stated in the preamble of ILO Constitution. The justification to this is that, we all work to earn pay and living. As well employers should ensure there is a plan in continuing to provide this descent income to employees. Employers should come up with dynamism in providing this descent pay to employees. This descent pay should see employees get further training in order to have increased future income through improved education.

Descent Hours

Dignity at work in developing countries can be achieved if works are allowed descent hours of work. By descent work, emphasis is on working normal hours as this facilitates their wellbeing as well as according them enough time with their families. If workers are allowed enough hours of rest, they are likely to attend to duty while energetic and this increases productivity. If employers complain of excess hours of work in developing countries, then it is an indication of little pay per hour worked. If workers are remunerated well per hours worked then the complaints would be minimal and productivity high. As well employees can complain of few hours of work which is an indication of lack of employment opportunities for citizens.

ILO Decent Work Indicators and Work Dignity
ILO Decent Work Indicators and Work Dignity

Stability and Security

Ensuring there is job security and stability at work places is essential as it promotes work dignity in developing countries. If countries adopt this descent indicator by ILO, then they could be assured of increased productivity achieved through dedicated services from employees. If employees lose jobs they incur economy loses such as being unable to meet daily cost of living and even if they get a new job, this position renders knowledge received in previous job irrelevant especially where they are adopted in different fields. Also changing jobs makes employees lose benefits like pension and essentially disrupts various aspects of one’s life such as been forced to migrate, changing schools for children. Job stability and security is very essential as it promotes dignity at work through provision of peace of mind to employees.F)

Balancing Work and Family Life

It is very necessary that employers oversee that their employees practice a balance between work and family. The two are core factors that ensure wellbeing of workers. The governments should ensure there are friendly family employment policies to ensure the large number of women entering the labour market is well protected. Women are recognized as the key persons who run a family but as well their contribution in labour market is encouraged. Employees should be assured of job protection in case one is required to attend to matters family. These could include being granted paid maternity leaves and also being allowed time to attend to child care. In case of family calamities, they should be provided with benefits in terms of money to attend to these issues and any arising needs on daily basis to attend to urgent matters at home. This ensures peace of mind of employees and even at work place hence increased productivity.

G) Fair Treatment in Employment

By this ILO advocates for adoption of equality in employment opportunities, equal pay for equal work and even equality in occupations. ILO’s discrimination convention (1958) (No. 111) discourages discrimination by defining it as any exclusion on issues by basis of either race, sex, color, religion, social or political inclinations and even national extractions. Developing countries should also ensure there is no discrimination on basis of age and gender. Fair treatments promote dignity at work hence increased productivity. There should be no forms of harassment or any sort of violence and incase of conflicts they should be handled justly and fairly.

h) Safe Work Environment

The occupational safety of 1981 (No. 155) advocates for adoption of a policy that prevents injuries and ensures protection of heath at work place. To ensure there is work dignity this is one of the policies that should be promoted for increased productivity. There should always be promotion of psychological and even physical wellbeing of workers. As well the employment injury benefit convention, 1965 (No.121) advocates for initiation of a policy of employer responsibility upon employees and ensuring their safety while at work is always guaranteed.

Social protection

Enough social protection characterizes decency at work in all organizations.  Different societies have different ways of exposing employees to risks and as well how to protect them differs greatly around the world. The need for protection is needed by all people facing threats. The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No.102) came up with 9 benefits people could get when under threat. They include: sickness benefit, medical care, unemployment benefit, employment injury benefit, old-age benefit family benefit, invalidity benefit, maternity benefit and survivors’ benefit. This benefits are available across the world and also within the poor. Social security systems available everywhere in the world. They are private and mixed; public, universal and targeted; compulsory and voluntary; although most of these are based on employment. Even when practiced around the world the key purpose is to basically protect workers against any financial constraints on life contingencies for employees and their close knits


J) Social dialogue and workplace relationship

Another way of promoting dignity at work is by giving workers the right to speech. They should always feel that they can express grievances without victimization and this promotes decent work and conducive working environment. They always feel part of the company or working place and will always endeavor to give the best. Airing of employees’ opinions can either be direct form the employer to employees or the other way round or even employees can be asked to select representatives who will be their voices to management. If an employer feels that they can freely stand for their opinions and even defend them plays a pivotal function and promotes democracy at work place. It also promotes social dialogue in the sense that employers, government representatives and even employees can exchange ideas on policy formulation in the company.


K) Economic and social content of decent work

Developing countries should ensure that they have stability of economic and even social content for decent work to be seen. This is according to ILO constitution. They should ensure there is consistency between level of output per employee and that this output is seen as growing. They should also take into consideration the inflation levels in the country and that employees attain all education as deemed fit. They should also ensure there is equality in employment and that rate of poverty is reduced. They should put into consideration the socio-economic performance, economic context and even the employment composition to ensure there is dignity at work place.



We would be lying to state that there are some indicators above that cannot be achieved by developing countries. However, it acceptable that there those indicators above that are easy to ahoy and others that would take time to be actualized in developing countries. This does not mean dignity at work should be compromised, no. Workers should work with what is available to ensure the maximize dignity at work for improves productive; which is one of the greatest means through which developing countries can bridge their gap with the developed words. Achieving descent working hours, unacceptable work, practicing balance between family and work and fair treatment are the easiest to achieve. These are merely decisions by management that may require if any, very little costs to effect and so developing countries should start practising them. On the other hand, safe work environment, social protection, social dialogue and work place relationships, economic and social content of descent work may take time to implement due to the criteria and parties involved in actualising them. However, it does not mean that these cannot be fully implement, they can.


Decent Work Indicators: Guidelines for Producers and Users of Statistical and Legal Framework Indicators. International Labour Office. -Geneva: Ill, 2013

Bolton, S. (Ed.). (2007). Dimensions of Dignity at Work. Routledge.

Hudson, R. (2001). Dignity at Work. Cambridge University Press.

Robertson, Raymond. Thronging, Brown, Drusilla and Deejay, Rajeev. Working Conditions Outcomes, and Policy in Asian Developing Countries. Db Economics Working Paper Series, No 497, 2016

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