Policy Brief: Sex Work as Work


This global policy brief looks at sex work through a labour framework, and advocates for the recognition of sex work as work. Where sex work is criminalised, sex workers’ workplaces are often excluded from national labour laws. This creates an environment where sex workers have no option but to accept exploitative working conditions. As a result, the struggle for the recognition of sex work as work is closely tied to the struggle for decriminalisation. This policy brief outlines the benefits of looking at sex work through a labour approach. A community guide is also available. You can also view and download an infographic summarising this paper.

Contents include:

  • Introduction
  • International Policy Framework
    • ILO and the Decent Work Agenda
    • ILO’s Stance on Sex Work
    • NSWP Policy on Sex Work and Labour
  • Sex Worker Organising Using a Labour Framework
  • Ten Benefits of a Labour Approach
    • Legal Protection
    • Reduced Stigma
    • Setting Standards for Decent Work and Reduced Exploitation
    • Freedom to Organise and Unionise
    • Reduced Violence and Police Harassment
    • Improved Occupational Health and Safety
    • Improved Access to Social Protection
    • Improved Access to Social Services and Resources
    • Free Choice of Employment
    • Alliances with Other Workers and Broader Social Movements
  • Towards a Decent Sex Work Agenda
  • Recommendations

This resource is useful because it summarises all available international frameworks for looking at work and the right to work, and specifically, sex work as work, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the International Labour Organization. It is useful for anyone interested in learning about sex workers’ rights through a labour framework.

You can download this 18 page PDF above. This resource is available in English and in Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.