The "Ordre national du Travail" was instituted on April 1st 1942 by the French Marshall Pétain. It was meant to be an order in three grades Knight (Chevalier), Officer (Officier) and Commander (Commandeur). The awarding had to be one after the other, beginning with the grade of Knight. After 35 years one could be awarded the grade of Officer. As criteria were 10 years of working experience, special working skills, excellent social behaviour or special services for the line of work or the French Nation. Besides that one had to be at least 35 years of age.
The awarding was done by a comittee thet was preceded by the Labour Secretary of State and containing two workers, two artists, two employers, two union leaders and four other members.
After the liberation of France, the temporary government lead by Charles de Gaulle decided not to award any more decorations in this Order. Until then there were awarded 100 persons each time on the May 1st ralleys in 1943 and 1944 in the Grade of Knight. With this the Knight was the only grade produced.
The cross of the National Order of Labour as awarded to Knights, hung on a ribbon in the colour blue with two red stripes. On this ribbon was a cross in the form of a blue enamel silver Maltese Cross. On this cross was a madallion with a drawing of Marchall Pétain surronded by the words "PHILIPPE PETAIN - MARECHAL DE FRANCE - CHEF DE L’ÉTAT" in whit letters on a blue ring. On the reverse are the words "ORDRE NATIONAL DU TRAVAIL". Above the cross a silver laurel wreath can be found.