Labour Law

The adoption of labour laws and regulations is an important means of implementing ILO standards, promoting the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and putting the concept of decent work into practice. Under the ILO Constitution, the Office is committed to offering technical cooperation and advisory services to member States and to assist them in assessing and, where necessary, framing or revising their labour laws. This includes assistance in the development of national laws and regulations to allow for the ratification of Conventions or implementation of the corresponding principles.

The changing economic and technological patterns of the last decade as well as the globalization of the economy have led to an increase in international trade between countries with different levels of social and labour protection. It is now increasingly accepted that a regulatory framework is essential if globalization is to be both socially and economically sustainable in the long term. The ILO is frequently called upon to provide advice on the basis of international and comparative law in order to help cast light on the debate at the national level.

The labour law assistance provided by the ILO can take different forms, including the following:
  • advice on the revision of labour law
  • technical comments on draft labour legislation, including comments in light of ILO standards
  • assessment of the existing law enforcement machinery and procedures, including recommendations for improvements
  • participation in national discussions on the assessment and revision of labour law
  • capacity-building in participatory labour law reform
  • training of national officials, including judges of industrial courts and tribunals, on how to apply international labour standards in national law and practice.
The establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which allows for the free movement of labour within the Caribbean region has brought the issue of the alignment of labour laws to the fore. In 1995 and 1997, the ILO provided technical support in drafting four model legislation in the areas of termination of employment; registration, status and recognition of trade unions and employers’ organizations; equality of opportunity and treatment in employment and occupation; and occupational safety and health and the working environment. As a follow-up to the model legislation and in light of the CSME, the ILO has implemented a project on the Harmonization of Labour Legislation in 13 ILO member States in the Caribbean. It aimed to evaluate the extent to which national legislation and policies are consistent with fundamental principles and rights, relevant ILO Conventions and CARICOM model labour laws. The project was sponsored by the Government of Canada.