International standards on labour statistics are of two types: Conventions and Recommendations, adopted by the International Labour Conference, and Resolutions and Guidelines adopted by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.
Two Conventions have been adopted in the field of labour statistics, which form part of the International Labour Code. The first Convention (No. 63) concerns statistics of wages and hours of work, and was adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1938 following a resolution of the Fifth International Conference of Labour Statisticians in1937. It aimed at improving the comparability of these statistics, as a direct result of the ILO's work on the October Inquiry. Some 34 countries ratified this Convention.
The second Convention (No. 160) was adopted in 1985 to replace Convention No. 63. It sets out minimum guidelines encompassing all areas of basic labour statistics. Each of the countries5 which have ratified the Conventions is required to report to the ILO each year on their application. The Bureau of Statistics then makes a technical evaluation of the situation, on the basis of which the Governing Body's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations follows up on problems or queries with the countries concerned. Currently, 48 countries have ratified this Convention.
The International Labour Conference also adopted a Recommendation (No.170) in 1985. This Recommendation is a non-binding instrument, which provides further guidance regarding frequency of data collection, recommended disaggregations of the statistics, as well as on national statistical infranstructures.
Resolutions are non-binding instruments which provide detailed guidelines on conceptual frameworks, operational definitions and measurement methodologies to produce and disseminate the various labour statistics. Their purpose is to provide necessary 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.