Working Conditions

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People talking in a steel shop

As an employer, you are required to provide good working conditions for your employees. These are understood to include:

  • an acceptable level of pay - see the brochure Paying a Living Wage (pdf)
  • no violence at work - see the brochure Violence@Work (pdf)
  • employee training
  • health care
  • freedom of association
  • collaboration with trade organisations
  • respect for the religion and culture of employees
  • contributions to or provision of food and accommodation
  • provision of education for children of employees.

International codes and standards have been established to ensure better working conditions in developing and emerging markets.

Relevant terms are not always included in the national legislation of these countries and when they are, such legislation is often poorly enforced or not enforced at all. It is also possible that local legislation does not meet international standards. However, the international support for such standards is extensive, as they were drawn up by employers, employees and authorities working in collaboration.

International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has developed a number of basic principles (conventions) with regard to working conditions. These are used to review the conduct of businesses. The issues concern the right to organise and the right to collective bargaining, as well as protection against child labour, forced labour, and discrimination. They are further supplemented by a number of codes regarding working hours, rates of pay and employment agreements. The most important ILO standards and recommendations are included in the Tripartite Declaration of Principles.

Standard SA 8000

SA 8000 is a much used standard in the area of working conditions. The standard is intended to improve labour laws around the world and is based on international principles, such as those of the ILO. SA 8000 contains guidelines concerning child labour, forced labour, health and safety, rights of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, work hours, and fair pay.

For further information:

OHSAS 18001

An international standard for workplace health and safety.

US International Labour Affairs Bureau
Information on employment around the world, categorised by topic and region. Also produces research and publications on forced and child labour


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