COVID-19 and the World of Work

Human Wrongs Watch

By the International Labour Organization*

The world of work is being profoundly affected by the global virus pandemic. In addition to the threat to public health, the economic and social disruption threatens the long-term livelihoods and wellbeing of millions.


The ILO and its constituents – Governments, workers and employers – will play a crucial role in combating the outbreak, ensuring the safety of individuals and the sustainability of businesses and jobs.

What can workers do?

    • Efficient social dialogue at all levels is essential for quick and effective action.
    • Workers’ organizations can play an important role in participating in decision making and policies responses to the crisis on COVID-19. They can contribute to the prevention and protection of workers by giving reliable information. Workers’ organizations can promote solidarity and non-discrimination / stigmatisation of workers and sick persons.
    • Since COVID-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets good workplace hygiene practices are essential, e.g. regular hand-washing, using hand and surface sanitiser.
    • Avoid touching your face, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. If you feel unwell self-isolate and seek medical assistance.
    • Encourage responsible behaviour, cooperate with response measures and stay calm.​

What can employers do?

    • Educate the workforce and communicate regularly with employees
    • Reinforce good hygiene practices and take related safety precautions
    • When feasible, appoint an emergency management team
    • Monitor developments on a daily basis
    • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home and send sick employees home
    • Be mindful of the many different laws and policies implicated that relate to the coronavirus and its impact on the workplace and prepare contingency plans
    • Suspend or limit business travel
    • Quarantine potentially exposed employees
    • Consider having non-essential employees work remotely

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