There is growing interest in the ability of the informal sector to provide gainful work in much of the developing world. However, the literature on work in the informal sector remains dominated by resource- and rights-based approaches, which fail to consider the features of work valued by informal workers themselves. This article investigates perceptions of ‘good work’ based on focus group discussions with informal workers in the capitals of Uganda, Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka. Using the capability approach as a framework, it reveals that informal workers value a combination of instrumental features of work, such as income and working hours, and intrinsic aspects, such as relationships and recognition. The article’s findings contribute to debates on quality of work in formal and informal contexts by illustrating the role of social and environmental conversion factors, including gender and class relations, in mediating the relationship between work and well-being.