Employment services

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing jobs crisis have highlighted the critical role of employment services actors - public employment services and private employment agencies - in matching jobseekers with available vacancies, helping employers find the workers they need, and supporting both sides in adapting to labour market disruptions.

A framework for an effective regulation of employment services is provided by two international labour standards: the Employment Service Convention, 1948 (No. 88) and the Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181). The ILO encourages Member States to ratify and implement both conventions to support  a human-centred recovery that benefits all through optimally functioning labour markets.

The Conventions promote:
  • Trusted placement and recruitment services
  • A better match of skills to business needs
  • Balanced rules that enable businesses and protect workers
  • Responsible and fair recruitment
  • Reduction of informal employment

Ratification campaign on employment services conventions

The International Labour Organization is launching a campaign aimed at increasing ratifications and implementation by member States of its key Conventions on public and private employment services, which have become increasingly vital to shoring up labour markets and assuring a job-rich recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  1. Convention No. 88

    How the Employment Service Convention helps countries support employers and jobseekers in adapting to change

    ILO Convention No. 88 calls on governments to maintain a free nationwide public employment service that matches people to jobs, helps employers find the workers they need, and aligns labour market and skills needs across the economy.

  2. Convention No. 181

    How the Private Employment Agencies Convention benefits governments, employers, and workers

    ILO Convention No. 181 establishes a comprehensive framework for the registration, licensing and effective regulation of private employment agencies and the protection of workers that use their services.