Social protection

Access to adequate social protection is recognized by International labour standards and the UN as a basic right . It is also widely considered to be instrumental in promoting human welfare and social consensus on a broad scale, and to be conducive to and indispensable for fair growth, social stability and economic performance, contributing to competitiveness

Today, only 20 per cent of the world’s population has adequate social security coverage, and more than half lack any coverage at all. They face dangers in the workplace and poor or non-existent pension and health insurance coverage. The situation reflects levels of economic development, with fewer than 10 per cent of workers in least-developed countries covered by social security. In middle-income countries, coverage ranges from 20 to 60 per cent, while in most industrial nations, it is close to 100 per cent.

Social Protection is one of the four strategic objectives of the Decent Work agenda that define the core work of the ILO. Since its creation in 1919, ILO has actively promoted policies and provided its Member States with tools and assistance aimed at improving and expanding the coverage of social protection to all groups in society and to improving working conditions and safety at work.

The ILO has set out three main objectives reflecting the three major dimensions of social protection:
 
  1. Extending the coverage and effectiveness of social security schemes
  2. Promoting labour protection , which comprises decent conditions of work, including wages, working time and occupational safety and health, essential components of decent work
  3. Working through dedicated programmes and activities to protect such vulnerable groups as migrant workers and their families; and workers in the informal economy. Moreover, the world of work's full potential will be used to respond to the AIDS pandemic, focusing on enhancing tripartite constituents' capacity

The Social Protection Floor Initiative

Recognizing the importance of ensuring social protection for all, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (UNCEB) adopted, in April 2009, the Social Protection Floor Initiative, as one of the nine UN joint initiatives to cope with the effects of the economic crisis. This initiative is co-led by the International Labour Office and the World Health Organization and involves a group of 17 collaborating agencies, including United Nations agencies and international financial institutions.

The Social Protection Floor approach promotes access to essential social security transfers and social services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, education, food, housing, life and asset-savings information. It emphasizes the need to implement comprehensive, coherent and coordinated social protection and employment policies to guarantee services and social transfers across the life cycle, paying particular attention to the vulnerable groups.

Latest

  1. Seoul Declaration bolsters commitment to expanding social protection and social dialogue

    12 December 2014

    Key actors from around the globe pledge to promote social protection floors through social dialogue.

  2. © Eric Miller/ World Bank 2014

    Global health protection crisis leaves almost 40% of the world’s population without any coverage

    12 December 2014

    New ILO study reveals large health coverage gaps, including in West African countries, where 80 per cent have no coverage.

  3. © Ted Aljibe / AFP 2014

    ILO: around 800,000 workers affected by Typhoon Hagupit

    10 December 2014

    The ILO estimates 800,000 workers have been affected by Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as Ruby, with their source of livelihood damaged or disrupted overnight. The ILO stands ready to allocate US$1.5 million and to support the government through emergency employment and sustainable livelihood.

  4. Addressing the Global Health Crisis: Universal Health Protection Policies

    08 December 2014

    This policy paper (i) examines the dimensions of the global health crisis based on severe deficits in health protection and limited access to needed health care; (ii) presents the extent of the health crisis at global, regional and national level as well as rural/urban divergences within countries and their root causes; (iii) suggests policy options to address the health protection crisis using the framework of national social protection floors by focusing on inclusive legislation and adequate financing as well as making quality services available and providing financial protection; (iv) concludes that progressing towards universal health protection is possible by developing a three step approach that yields highest rates of returns in terms of sustainability, economic growth and equity. The Annexes present global data on total health expenditure, health coverage and skilled health workers for 171 countries.

  5. Decent work, social protection can help close the gap

    01 December 2014

    Statement by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder on World AIDS Day 2014.