The European Social Charter, the human rights treaty on social and economic rights, guarantees the right to work with no discrimination (Article 1), the right to just conditions of work (Article 2), the right to safe and healthy working conditions (Article 3) and the right to a fair remuneration (Article 4), as well as the freedom to organise (Article 5) and the right to bargain collectively (Article 6).

To be considered fair within the meaning of Article 4§1 of the Charter, the minimum or lowest net remuneration or wage paid in the labour market must not fall below 60% of the net average wage. When the net minimum wage is between 50 and 60% of the net average wage, it is for the state to establish whether this wage is sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living. However, a net wage which is less than 50% of the net national average wage will be deemed to be unfair and therefore the situation of the State Party concerned will not be in conformity with Article 4§1 of the Charter. Under Article 7§5 of the Charter, domestic law must provide for the right of young workers to a fair wage and of apprentices appropriate allowances. The “fair” or “appropriate” character of the wage is assessed by comparing young workers’ remuneration with the starting wage or minimum wage paid to adults (aged 18 or above).

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) monitors the implementation of the Charter, not only in law, but also in practice. The Committee examined the situation with regard to the above mentioned rights in its Conclusions 2022 (to be published in March 2023).

Under Article 1§2 of the Charter, forced labour in all its forms must be prohibited. States Parties must adopt legal provisions to combat forced labour including within the family and protect domestic workers, as well as take measures to implement them. The ECSR examined the situation and measures taken by States Parties with regard to the implementation of Article 1§2 of the Charter in its Conclusions 2020 (to be published in March 2021).

With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of Article 3 of the Charter which guarantees the right to safe and healthy working conditions, States Parties undertake to promote workplace safety and ensure the protection of all workers, including those in precarious employment. The ECSR examined the situation and measures taken by States Parties with regard to the right to safe and healthy working conditions in its Conclusions 2021.

Article 15§2 of the Charter requires States Parties to promote an equal and effective access to employment on the open labour market for persons with disabilities. Regarding work conditions, there must be obligations on the employer to take steps in accordance with the requirement of reasonable accommodation to ensure effective access to employment and to keep in employment persons with disabilities. The ECSR examined the situation and measures taken by States Parties with regard to Article 15§2 in its Conclusions 2020 .

The ECSR by its decision of 23 of March 2017 on the merits of the complaint Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) v. Greece (No. 111/2014) concluded that new legislation enacted as part of the austerity measures adopted in Greece during the economic and financial crisis affects workers’ rights in a manner that is contrary to the Charter and found violations of Article 1 (the right to work), Article 2 (the right to just conditions of work), Article 4 (the right to a fair remuneration) and Article 7 (the right of children and young persons to protection) of the 1961 Charter, as well as Article 3 of the 1988 Additional Protocol (the right to take part in the determination and improvement of the working conditions and working environment).

In its decision of 9 September 2020 on the merits of the complaint Confederazione Generale Sindacale (CGS) v. Italy (No. 144/2017), having regard to the situation of public education staff not registered in specific reserve lists (known as “eligibility ranking lists to be drawn upon exhaustion” - ERE lists) and recruited under successive contracts with interruptions for an overall length of more than 36 months, the ECSR considered that that there has been a disproportionate interference with their rights to earn their living in an occupation freely entered upon, on account of : (i) the absence of effective preventive and remedial safeguards against abuse arising from the undue recourse to fixed-term contracts, combined with (ii) the legal uncertainty, resulting from the repeated changes to legislation and case-law and (iii) the restricted chances of obtaining indefinite duration contracts regardless of actual competences and working experience. The Committee therefore held that there has been a violation of Article 1§2 of the Charter.

The Committee considered that an adequate balance must be struck between needs for flexibility and the rights of workers to earn their living in an occupation freely entered upon. In particular, fixed-term employment contracts should not be used to elude more stringent rules applying to indefinite duration employment contracts. To this effect, there must be adequate legal safeguards preventing abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts. Furthermore, where such abuse should occur, adequate, proportionate and dissuasive remedies must be effectively available in law and in practice (§113 of the decision on the merits). It also considered that where fixed-term contracts have been successively renewed over a very long period of time they can no longer be considered to respond to exceptional, unpredictable and temporary needs, and that this indicates that there has been no adequate prevention of abuse arising from the recourse to fixed-term contracts (§117 of the decision on the merits).

The Committee adopted a Statement on Covid-19 and social rights on 24 March 2021.

In its Conclusions 2021, the ECSR adopted a Statement of interpretation on Article 3§2 (The right to safety and healthy working conditions) - Digital disconnect and electronic monitoring of workers

In its decision of 8 September 2021 on the merits of the complaint Youth Forum (YFJ) v. Belgium (No. 150/2017), the ECSR concluded that there was a violation of Article 4§1 of the Charter on the ground that the Labour Inspectorate is not sufficiently effective in detecting and preventing “bogus internships”. The Committee examined the effectiveness of the inspection system regarding “bogus internships”. It considered that the inspection system should be adapted to the features of the targeted population, such as disadvantaged young interns. It noted that given that young interns might not be aware of their rights or might not want to take any legal action in case of abusive internships in order not to affect their potential for future employment in the labour market. Given this strong disincentive for young interns to take legal action and their possible lack of knowledge concerning their rights in the implementation of internship contracts, a proactive approach, apart from an efficient inspection service, by the relevant authorities may be necessary and governments should give serious consideration to monitoring internships to ensure that such internships allow for a real learning experience and are not used to replace regular workers. The ECSR also considered that the insufficient efficiency of the Labour Inspectorate in this respect inevitably will have discriminatory consequences in respect of “bogus interns” as this category of workers is in practice deprived of an effective right to a fair remuneration guaranteed to other workers who perform analogous or relevantly similar work under a regular employment contract. It held therefore that there was a violation of Article E read in conjunction with Article 4§1 of the Charter.

In its decision of 23 March 2022 on the merits of the complaints Confédération Générale du Travail Force Ouvrière (CGT-FO) v. France (No. 160/2018) and Confédération générale du travail (CGT) v. France (No. 171/2018), the ECSR found a a violation of Article 24.b of the Charter in respect of adequate compensation. The ECSR considered that the ceilings set by Article L.1235-3 of the Labour Code are not sufficiently high to make good the damage suffered by the victim and be dissuasive for the employer. Moreover, the courts have a narrow margin of manoeuvre in deciding the case on its merits by considering individual circumstances of unjustified dismissals. For this reason, the real damage suffered by the worker in question linked to the individual characteristics of the case may be neglected and therefore, not be made good. In addition, other legal avenues are limited to certain cases. The Committee considered therefore that the right to adequate compensation or other appropriate relief within the meaning of Article 24.b of the Charter is not guaranteed.


HELP course on Labour Rights, developed in cooperation with the Secretariat of the European Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe. It has the following modules:

  1. Introduction
  2. Right to work and employment relationship
  3. Working time
  4. Fair remuneration and protection of wages
  5. Termination of employment
  6. Equality and non-discrimination
  7. Collective labour rights on all levels
  8. Occupational safety and health

The promotion of human rights of LGBTI persons in the workplace is ensured trough the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. A new toolkit

“Diversity in the Workplace, a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression and Sex Characteristics approach” is aimed at assisting member States to respect the employment-related measures highlighted in the Recommendation.

To enhance the employment and economic growth of Roma communities in Western Balkans and Türkiye, the Council of Europe/European Union Joint Programme Roma Integration III supports the development of programmes for the formalization of work among Roma and increasing the number of Roma employed in private and public sectors. The project assists at least 400 Roma workers and entrepreneurs in strengthening their income generation, access to employment, development of enterprises, including green and digitalized businesses.

The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) actively promotes and contributes to attain sustainable development goals proposed under the 2030 Agenda through its three lines of action “Investing in People and Enhancing Human Capital”, “Promoting Inclusive and Resilient Living Environments” and “Supporting Jobs and Economic and Financial Inclusion”.

The CEB will continue to provide financing for investment and working capital needs of MSMEs through intermediary financial institutions. These operations aim at promoting entrepreneurship and self-employment, supporting the establishment and scaling-up of micro-businesses, thereby contributing to income generation, preservation and creation of jobs, as well as the financial inclusion of vulnerable populations, including rural community, women, migrants and ethnic minorities, with the goal to address regional disparities, income inequalities and gender imbalances.

The Bank will prioritise financial intermediaries that support the financial inclusion of women and vulnerable groups or, more generally, are attentive to the social impact of their operations. The CEB will continue to support MSME lending for energy efficiency and climate adaptation and will aim to reach underserved regions and contribute to territorial cohesion by working more with smaller, local cooperative banks and providing incentives to commercial banks to operate in these areas.


The Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings is a ground-breaking and comprehensive instrument which is of relevance notably to achieving target 5.2 of Goal 5, target 8.7 of Goal 8 and target 16.2 of Goal 16. While building on existing international instruments, the Convention goes beyond the minimum standards agreed upon in them and strengthens the protection afforded to victims. The Convention has a comprehensive scope of application, encompassing all forms of trafficking and taking in all persons who are victims of trafficking (women, men or children). The Convention makes particular reference to children’s vulnerability in trafficking and requires States to take special account of their need for special protection and assistance. The Convention is not restricted to Council of Europe member States; non-members States and the European Union also have the possibility of becoming Party to the Convention. The implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Convention by the State Parties is monitored by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the Committee of the Parties.

The Council of Europe offers member States and other stakeholders guidance and support for achieving targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2 to end human trafficking through the provision of recommendations resulting from the monitoring of the Convention by GRETA and expertise on human trafficking issues and activities, such as round-table meetings in the monitored countries. The round-table meetings are a tool for stimulating dialogue between relevant stakeholders in each country, and identifying areas where the Council of Europe can support national anti-trafficking efforts. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also adopted in 2022 a  Recommendation to member States on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation.

The Council of Europe supports the implementation of the SDGs that aim to end human trafficking by organising conferences and other events to raise awareness of the provisions of the Convention and GRETA’s recommendations. Further, in order to strengthen capacity in preventing and combating human trafficking, workshops and training seminars are organised for different professional groups.

A free online course on human trafficking has been developed by the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals of the Council of Europe (HELP) and translated into a range of languages. In addition, information and good practice examples are collected for the promotion of the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Convention.

The Council of Europe furthers the achievement of the trafficking-related SDGs through the financing and implementation of anti-trafficking projects and activities whose results bring along the necessary outcomes at national or regional level, in line with the SDGs 5, 8 and 16 and its associated targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2. The projects support the national authorities in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, by addressing the legislation, policy and practice in particular fields.


The Youth Department advocates and supports the development of youth policies that take into account the difficulties encountered by many young people to secure meaningful employment opportunities, putting a particular emphasis on young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods – based on CM Recommendations (2015)3 and (2016)7 (see also Goal 1) and (2016)7 (see also Goal 3).

The situation of young people in rural areas is being explored by the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) with a view to a possible Committee of Ministers recommendation. The EU/CoE Youth Partnership has throrougly researched the situation of rural youth, producing different papers, podcasts and other tools.

The Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card, in 2018, in a seminar entitled BRAIN DRAIN OR BRAIN GAIN?, looked at the role of the European Youth Card in providing opportunities for young people at home and abroad to support their economic autonomy, notably through social entrepreneurship, while maintaining links with their country of origin and supporting their social inclusion in the host country.

The EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership organised a seminar on “Young people’s autonomy”, in the context of economic, political and social uncertainty, financial crisis and precarity in 2022. Young people, youth work practitioners, policymakers and researchers discussed and reflected on a wide range of topics including youth unemployment rates, contemporary nature of work (contractual precarity, unpaid labour/internships, quality of jobs for young people, etc.) and the resulting social and economic issues, that need to be addressed by the youth policy and practice, such as in-work poverty, housing and financial literacy. Other resources on the theme of youth transitions are also available.


The Parliamentary Assembly, through its Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, has undertaken a considerable amount of work towards this goal over the past years, including through its activities building up to Resolution 1993 (2014) on Decent work for allResolution 2068 (2015) Towards a new European Social ModelResolution 2158 (2017) on Fighting income inequality as a means of fostering social cohesion and economic developmentResolution 2146 (2017) Reinforcing social dialogue as an instrument for stability and decreasing social and economic inequalities, Resolution 2312 (2019) on The societal impact of the platform economy and Resolution 2345 (2020) and Recommendation 2186 (2020) on “Artificial intelligence and labour markets: friends or foes?”. Resolution 2366 (2021) and Recommendation 2196 (2021) on the “Impact of labour migration on “left-behind” children”, Resolution 2410 (2021) and Recommendation 2216 (2021) on the “Best interests of the child and policies to ensure a work-life balance”, Resolution 2384 (2021) and Recommendation 2205 (2021) on “Overcoming the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic” and Resolution 2393 (2021) and Recommendation 2210 (2021) on “Socio-economic inequalities in Europe: time to restore social trust by strengthening social rights” were adopted by the Assembly in 2021.

In 2022, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2442 (2022) and Recommendation 2234 (2022) “Eradicating extreme child poverty in Europe: an international obligation and a moral duty”, as well as Resolution 2467 (2022) and Recommendation 2239 (2022) “The future of work is here: revisiting labour rights”. In 2023, Resolution 2504 (2023) and Recommendation 2255 (2023) on “Health and social protection of undocumented workers or those in an irregular situation” and Resolution 2496 (2023) and Recommendation 2254 (2023)  on “Safeguarding democracy, rights and the environment in international trade” were adopted.


Reports on “Children in the world of work: eradicating harmful child labour” and on “Sustainable European guidelines to counter social dumping and strengthen collective bargaining mechanisms”  are currently in preparation by the Committee.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination is currently preparing a report on Women in the economy: employment, entrepreneurship and gender budgeting. In 2019, the work of this Committee led to the adoption by the Assembly of Resolution 2257 (2019) Discrimination in access to employment and Resolution 2258 (2019) For a disability-inclusive workforce.

In 2017, the work of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons led to the adoption by the Assembly of Resolution 2175 (2017) and Recommendation 2109 (2017) on Migration as an opportunity for European development, urging member States to recognise the economic value of migration and migrants’ importance for national labour markets. Furthermore, in October 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2310 (2019) on Labour migration from eastern Europe and its impact on socio-demographic processes in these countries. In this context, the Assembly called for concerted action by both sending and receiving countries to “alleviate the negative impact of labour migration on the countries of origin, while doing everything needed to preserve the positive aspects”. Measures could include upping support for families left behind in countries of origin – particularly any children – and providing clear information on the opportunities and risks for migrant workers, as well as steps to help those who wish to return home. For their part, receiving countries should do all they can to stop “unofficial” labour migration, while helping migrant workers who come officially to integrate more fully.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has also promoted the Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec (2016)3 on Human Rights and Business (see the Parliamentary Assembly’s Resolution 2311 (2019) and Recommendation 2166 (2019)). Additionally, in 2019, the Assembly  adopted Resolution 2318 (2019) on the protection of freedom of religion or belief in the workplace.

Based on the work of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Assembly also adopted Resolution 2398 (2021) and Recommendation 2213 (2021) on
“Addressing issues of criminal and civil liability in the context of climate change”.

The approach of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is based on three key principles: achieving SDGs is the shared responsibility of all levels of government; local and regional authorities must have the necessary competences and financial autonomy to achieve the goals in their respective areas; citizens must always remain at the heart of the action.

For a society to reach an inclusive and sustainable economic growth, conditions must be created to allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Congress contributes to these conditions to ensure and develop an equitable work environment, which includes all members of the society. The integration of disadvantaged populations is thereby an opportunity to stimulate economic and social growth, by undermining inequalities.

The Congress adopted the following texts in relation to SDG 8:

The following thematic activities of the Congress are particularly related to SDG 8:

Congress has issued the following SDG 8 relevant publications:


The work of the Commissioner for Human Rights relating to this goal focuses on reminding member states of the importance of upholding social rights as human rights and placing them at the epicentre of business practices. In addition, the Commissioner has raised awareness on the impact of austerity measures on quality working opportunities in particular for the youth. The Commissioner has also issued concrete recommendations to member states to address the gender pay gap, the persistence of child labour in Europe, and the need to improve protection for victims of trafficking in human beings and forced labour.

See Commissioner’s thematic webpage on social rights: employment.

See in particular the following Human Rights Comments of the Commissioner: