International standards on labour statistics are of two types: 1) Conventions and Recommendations, adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC), and 2) Resolutions and Guidelines adopted by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS).
It’s important to note that international statistical standards evolve over time. As such, users should refer to the latest set of standards on any given topic.
Conventions and recommendations
ILC Conventions are legally binding instruments for countries that choose to ratify them. ILC Recommendations on the other hand, are not binding instruments.
The ILC adopted two Conventions in the field of labour statistics, and these form part of the International Labour Code:
Currently, 34 countries have ratified C063 and 50 countries have ratified C160.
NOTE: ILC to consider abrogation of C063 at its 2024 session
Each country that ratifies one of the Conventions is required to report to the ILO on their application. The ILO Department of Statistics then makes a technical evaluation of the situation. The Governing Body’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations uses this information to follow up on problems or queries.
The ILC also adopted R170 – Labour Statistics Recommendation, 1985. It provides further guidance regarding frequency of data collection, recommended disaggregations of the statistics, as well as on national statistical infrastructures.
Resolutions and guidelines
ICLS Resolutions and Guidelines are both non-binding instruments. Resolutions provide detailed guidance on conceptual frameworks, operational definitions and measurement methodologies to produce and disseminate labour statistics. Their purpose is to provide guidance to countries wishing to develop or revise their national labour statistics programmes, as well as to enhance international comparability. Guidelines provide more general guidance relating to particular areas of interest.