A growing number of emerging and developing economies run unemployment benefit programmes to protect workers against the risk of job-loss and to prevent out-of-work poverty. However, coverage of these interventions remains low especially among vulnerable groups and this limits their effectiveness. We study the determinants of participation in the unemployment benefit system in Mauritius, a policy that stands out internationally as it grants access also to previously informal workers. Our main result is that informal workers – despite having legal access to the programme – largely fail to participate. This is because they are both less likely to meet the eligibility criteria and to take-up the policy even when they are eligible.