by Paul Landsbergis, PhD, MPH

One of the key United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, discussed on Sept. 18-19 at a U.N. meeting in New York, is “Decent Work.” 

Decent Work is very similar to “Healthy Work”, as promoted by the Healthy Work Campaign. The Decent Work idea, developed in 1999 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the U.N., and as described in an editorial in the October 2023 British medical journal, The Lancet, includes workplace health and safety, a fair income, dignity, and equality. 

Other ILO documents specify additional details of Decent Work: 

  • the right to organize a union and bargain contracts
  • avoiding precarious work
  • avoiding occupational segregation and discrimination by gender, race, or migrant or disability status
  • the development of skills
  • health care
  • unemployment and injury benefits
  • decent work hours
  • paid leave, and 
  • time for family and personal life. 

The connection between Decent Work and healthy work is further explored in a 2022 American Public Health Association policy document. The ILO has promoted Decent Work throughout the world through ILO Decent Work Country Programs, national laws and regulations, collective bargaining and worker cooperatives. 

The Healthy Work Campaign is encouraged by the increasing recognition internationally of the importance of decent work and healthy work.

And, don’t miss “World Day for Decent Work: It’s Time for a Pay Rise” from the International Trade Union Confederation, to publicize the World Day for Decent Work on Saturday, October 7.

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