Gateway for Workers
Resources for workers and workers' organizations advocating for workers' rights in the informal economy.
Law and the Informal Economy: Better Laws Mean Better Workplaces
Everybody has the right to decent work. This right is protected under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and many national constitutions.
But in many countries, workers in the informal economy face challenges above and beyond those confronting workers in formal sectors. These include:
Informal workers are a valuable part of the economy and support workers in all sectors. Domestic workers allow others to work outside the home, especially other women. Street vendors provide affordable and convenient goods to urban shoppers. Waste pickers are an integral part of municipal sanitation systems. And home-based workers make crucial contributions to many global and local supply chains.
In many places, though, the laws fail to accurately reflect the needs of informal workers and their customers.
In collaboration with WIEGO's partners─member-based organizations (MBOs), researchers, policymakers, and lawyers─we strive to provide information and strategies for developing laws that enable rather than hinder work in the informal economy.
We seek to provide information on both what good laws might look like, by identifying best practices and examples of successful regulation from around the world, and how MBOs and their members have successfully organized and mobilized for better laws.
Resources for Workers
Organizing and Advocating for Worker-Centered Regulation of the Informal Economy
One of the biggest challenges in creating an enabling regulatory framework for the informal economy is that we don't always know what works and what doesn't. As a result, legal reform requires the willingness to experiment, negotiate, and periodically return to the drafting table. Throughout this process, it remains essential that stakeholders take a worker-centered approach to regulating the informal economy.
MBOs are crucial for ensuring that workers have a place at the negotiating table. And MBOs play a key role in ensuring that lawmakers are considering workers as they draft legislation.
You can encourage policymakers and the public to consider questions such as:
- What economic pressures drive informal workers and their customers, and how can the law help people respond to economic pressures?
- What special vulnerabilities do informal workers face, and how can the law fill those gaps?
- How can the law be used to extend the protections that workers in the formal sector enjoy, such as social security, to informal workers?
To this end, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources here and consider how you might use them for public advocacy, lobbying lawmakers and other stakeholders, and within-country and cross-border networking.