Fundamental Rights of Workers

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    • The rights of workers include standards for wages and safety.construction workers image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com

      The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 outlined global guidelines of the rights of individuals regardless of their geographic location. The International Labour Organization was established in 1919, and over the course of several decades, the organization passed several recommendations and conventions that specifically outline the rights of workers and employees. Both of these documents provide the framework for the basic and fundamental rights of workers in their workplace. Businesses use these guidelines for establishing rules about pay, time off, workplace amenities and benefits.

    Equal Pay

    • Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization address the issue of wages for equal work. In 1951, the International Labour Organization introduced the equal remuneration convention that was ratified by 140 countries or states. Workers are entitled to receive wages equal to those of their co-workers for performing an equal amount of equivalent work. The equal pay for equal work rule is most often cited in cases of wage differentiation between male and female workers. Equal pay is conventionally extended to include not only salary or hourly wages but also benefits like health and dental coverage.

    Unions

    • The International Labour Union passed two conventions in 1948 and 1949 that guaranteed workers' rights to organize and form unions to negotiate with company owners about wages, benefits and other worker concerns. Convention 87 established that workers have the right and freedom to organize and form groups or associations without the clearance of their bosses or administrators. While many organizations interpreted the convention to include unionizing, subsequent Convention 98 further protected workers from anti-union legislation or policies.

    Rest and Leisure

    • Several internationally recognized provisions guarantee workers the right to time off and breaks during the work day. The Human Rights Declaration restricted forced overtime labor and limited the hours of the workday; though original hourly limits were set at 10 hours, the limit is periodically re-evaluated based on changes in labor. Workers are also guaranteed breaks for rest and eating during extended work hours. The declaration also recommends that workers are offered paid time off for holidays or personal needs.

    Nondiscrimination

    • Though the equal remuneration convention was used to combat sexism, additional conventions explicitly extend protections for other categories. The Declaration of Human Rights establishes that all workers are equal before the law and therefore must have equal access to employment opportunities and wages. Convention 111 of the International Labour Organization was ratified in 1958; it extended protections such as access to employment, equal wages and equal working conditions regardless of race, nationality, sex, religion or political affiliation.

    Occupational Health and Safety

    • Every worker has the right to expect adequate safety education and procedures in the workplace. The International Labour Organization established Recommendation 164 and Convention 155 to guarantee workers access to safety and health training relevant to their employment. Employers are required to prevent injuries and accidents that result from inadequate training or hazard prevention.

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