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Global and European Labour Law


Admission requirements

Background in law and sufficient command of English. Preferably students are familiar with the basics of international and European law.


The International Labor Organization (ILO) is one of the oldest international organizations in the world. It is even older than the United Nations of which it is a special agency. The main aim of the ILO is the creation of social justice. Thereto the ILO promotes rights at work, encourages decent employment opportunities and strengthens social dialogue on work-related issues. It does so through setting standards by Conventions and Recommendations and through various programmes featuring decent work or promoting better work, as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR). Within the context of (economic) globalization these standards and programmes have gained importance and became leading in terms of expectations of the national labour laws of its Member States and the behaviour of multinational enterprises (MNEs). Having an even stronger economic interdependence within the European Union (EU), the EU has created an additional set of labour law rules. Moreover, the EU is more than just an international organization, it is a supranational organization that has created its own legal order. This means that for EU Member States labour law is no longer a mainly national issue. It is strongly influenced by the standards and programmes of the ILO and the social policy directives of the EU, including the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Course Objectives

Objectives of the course:

  • During this course, a general introduction into and an overview of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and European Union (EU) Labour Law will be provided.

  • We will study the basic institutional settings of the ILO and the EU, as well as their enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.

  • We will discuss the historical background of both organizations and the implications thereof for the standards and instruments they have developed over the course of time.

  • We will discuss the labour standards of the ILO, its governance Conventions and the decent work programmes.

  • We will study some issue of the EU’s social policy, among which the European social dialogue, employee involvement at the workplace in general and with regard to specific situations and the EU’s approach to equal treatment.

Achievement levels:
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

  • Historical background knowledge of global and European labour law, especially of the ILO and the EU.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the basic institutional settings of the ILO and the EU and their enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the ILO’s core labour standards, its governance conventions and its decent and better work programmes.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the most important material aspects of EU Labour Law.

  • Application of EU labour law to practical cases.

  • Ability to analyze and evaluate developments of labour law within the ILO and the EU.


See the website.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 10 (1 per week for a duration of 10 weeks)

  • Names of lecturers: Prof. dr G.J.J. Heerma van Voss, dr. M.Y.H.G. Erkens

  • Required preparation by students: Required reading for every lecture

Assessment method

Examination form

  • Exam: a written open book exam, consisting of questions and cases. The retake will be an oral open book exam, based on a case with open questions.

Areas to be tested within the exam
Compulsory reading materials and any other topics discussed in class.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Reader I EU Labour Law; Reader II EU Labour Law International Labour Law

Legislation and case law:

  • Reader III GELL Legislation and caselaw.

The course information guide and assignments will be made available on Brightspace.

There may be additional reading materials which will be published on Brightspace.


Students have to register for the lectures through uSis. With this registration you have access to the digital learning environment of this course in Brightspace. You may register up to 5 calendar days before the first teaching session begins.

Students have to register for exams and retakes through uSis. With this registration you also have access to the digital learning environment of this course in Brightspace You may register up to 10 calendar days before the exam or retake.

Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact details

  • Coordinator: Dr. M.Y.H.G. Erkens

  • Work address: Steenschuur 25 (KOG)

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7637

  • E-mail: []


  • Institution: Public Law

  • Division: Labour Law

  • Room number secretariat: Steenschuur 25 (KOG)

  • Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9.00-17.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretariat: +31 (0)71 527 7713

  • E-mail: