52% of all employment is done by key workers
A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for countries to improve the working conditions and earnings of key workers who were essential during the COVID-19 crisis. The report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2023: The value of essential work, highlights the extent to which economies and societies depend on key workers, yet they are undervalued.
Key workers can be found in eight main occupational groups and in the 90 countries where data was available, 52% of all employment is done by key workers. However, on average, key workers earn 26% less than other employees, with 29% of them being low paid. The report recommends greater investment in physical infrastructure, productive capacity, and human resources of key sectors, among other recommendations, to ensure the continuity of essential services during future pandemics or other shocks.
Gilbert F. Houngbo, ILO Director-General commented: “Healthcare workers, supermarket cashiers, delivery workers, postal workers, seafarers, cleaners, and others supplying food and necessities continued to perform their jobs, day in and day out, even at the height of the pandemic, often at great personal risk. Valuing key workers means ensuring that they receive adequate pay and work in good conditions. Decent work is an objective for all workers but it is particularly critical for key workers, who provide vital necessities and services both in good times and bad.”