What are Injured and Ill Workers' Human Rights?

Injured and ill workers' human rights means access to the health care, income support, rehabilitation and retraining that all workers need when they are injured or made ill on the job. It means reliable and effective public accountability mechanisms that support workers’ participation in decisions that affect how their rights are realized. 

By placing people—rather than costs and profits—at the center of policy and practice, human rights offer a framework that starts with people’s needs and places clear obligations on governments and private actors. Human rights principles provide tools for evaluating workers’ comp systems and identifying the changes needed to protect injured and ill workers’ human rights:

  • Universality: Every person must have full, prompt, and guaranteed access to health care, income support, retraining, and rehabilitation, according to their needs after a work injury or illness.

  • Equity: Health care and income support for injured and ill workers must be publicly financed through equitable taxation, and must be aligned with other health care and social support systems. All people must have equitable access to workers’ compensation regardless of the nature of their injury or illness, their industry of employment, or any other factor.

  • Accountability: Oversight, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms must ensure that injured and ill workers’ human rights are realized.

  • Transparency: Decision-making processes that affect the design, implementation, and management of systems for injured and ill workers must be open, clear, and easily accessible. All relevant data and information must be collected and provided clearly and accessibly to workers, and must accurately report work injuries and illnesses.

  • Participation: Government must support a meaningful role for workers in decisions that affect how their human rights are met after experiencing a workplace injury or illness.