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Right To Decent Work

Rights in focus

The realization of the right to decent work fosters autonomy and independence in young people, which can pave the way for the realisation of other fundamental human rights.

Work is not purely a means of generating income. The right to decent work implies just and favorable work conditions, and full and productive work should be promoted while respecting the fundamental political and economic freedoms of the individual. The right to decent work is closely intertwined with realizing the right to an adequate standard of living, and is an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.

The right to decent work includes:

  • Prohibition of forced labour; right to freely choose or accept work
  • Safe and healthy working conditions
  • Minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment
  • Equality of opportunity and treatment; non-discrimination in accessing and maintaining employment
  • Fair remuneration to achieve a decent standard of living
  • Equal pay for work of equal value
  • Reasonable working hours and holiday with pay
  • Forming trade unions, and joining the trade union of one’s choice


In depth…

Decent work is work that respects the fundamental rights of the human person as well as the rights of workers in terms of conditions of work safety and remuneration. It also provides an income allowing workers to support themselves and their families. These fundamental rights also include respect for the physical and mental integrity of workers in the exercise of their employment.

Access to a first job constitutes an opportunity for economic self‑reliance and in many cases a means to escape poverty. States have an obligation to adopt policy, legislative and budgetary measures aimed at attaining full employment to the maximum of their available resources. In addressing widespread unemployment among young people, and young women in particular, the right to work requires that States create favorable macroeconomic conditions for the realization of the right and adopt specific job promotion policies targeted at youth, particularly young women as well as youth in vulnerable situations.

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the shift from long-term, more stable jobs to short-term, task-based jobs that often promote insecurity and instability, including poor pay, lack of access to social protections, occupational safety protections and healthcare, among others. The regulation of non-standard and precarious forms of work, including the prohibition of unpaid internships, is important to realize the right to decent work for youth.

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