The aim of this article is to situate Arendt’s account of labour as a critical response to humanisms of labour, or put otherwise, to situate it as an anti-humanism of labour. It compares Arendt’s account of labour with that of the most prominent humanist theorist of labour at the time of the composition of The Human Condition: Georges Friedmann. Arendt’s and Friedmann’s accounts of labour are compared specifically with respect to the range of capacities, social relations, and possibilities of fulfilment at stake in the activity of labour. The comparison provides a previously unexplored context for understanding Arendt’s account of labour and her distinction between labour and work. The relevance of Arendt’s and Friedmann’s theories of labour for the contemporary debate about the meaning of work in an age of automation is also briefly discussed.