Engaging private enterprises in promoting Social Protection Floors: Public-Private Partnership

In 2014 some 73 per cent of the world population did not enjoy adequate social protection. Some 39 per cent have no access to health care at all. One in two children lives in poverty. Only 12 per cent of the unemployed receive unemployment benefit, and 50 per cent of the elderly have pensions. The majority of the population excluded from social protection are the poor and those working in the informal economy.

Facts and figures
Partners Private enterprises in France
Beneficiary Countries Global
Timeframe 2014

Social security is a human right as well as a social and economic necessity. Social protection schemes not only help to prevent individuals and their families from falling into or remaining in poverty, but also contribute to economic growth by raising labour productivity and enhancing social stability.

The response

Social Protection Floors (SPF) are nationally defined sets of at least four basic social security guarantees that ensure –
  • Essential health care, including maternity care, at a nationally defined minimum level that meets the criteria of availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality;
  • Basic income security for children at a nationally defined minimum level, including access to nutrition, education, care, and any other necessary goods and services;
  • Basic income security at a nationally defined minimum level for persons of active age who are unable to earn sufficient income, in particular in the case of sickness, unemployment, maternity, and disability;
  • Basic income security at a nationally defined minimum level for older persons.
The ILO has supported the establishment and extension of social protection floors in various countries, providing information and management support to improve the administrative and financial governance of the system. This includes –
  • Support for the development of national strategies on social protection (93 countries)
  • Support for the design and setting up of new schemes (53 countries)
  • Improvements of existing systems (26 countries).
The commitment of companies on this topic can be expressed through a framework of innovative policies on human resource development, whereby they can give effect to their social responsibility. In this context, the ILO and the public interest group Health and Social Protection International (GIP SPSI) have decided to work together on corporate social responsibility in the context of the Global Campaign on Social Protection Floors.

There are several areas of potential collaboration – 
  1. Develop social protection systems for employees of the company, with the support of the ILO
  2. Engage executives in volunteering or sponsorship of competence to the ILO for its field missions
  3. Support the ILO in the implementation of social protection floors worldwide through financial and material support.


The results of collaboration between enterprises and the ILO on social protection floors include:
  • Producing research analysing the relation between social protection, productivity improvements, firm competitiveness, absenteeism, and workers’ loyalty to the firm. A study entitled “Survival of the fittest and most compliant” has already been produced by the Department of Social Protection using data from Better Factories Cambodia. The partnership can be extended to other countries where Better Work programmes are in place, including Bangladesh, Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho, Nicaragua, and Viet Nam;
  • Producing “life stories” on the impact, on workers and their families, of the progressive improvement of access to social protection in firms taking part in the Better Work programme. The testimonies will be in the form of scripts and videos;
  • Conducting research on the codes of conduct of French enterprises that purchase goods and services in foreign countries and across different sectors in order to ensure the incorporation of social protection as part of the code of conduct, as well as workers’ access to social protection along the value chain;
  • Performing a cost/benefit analysis to compare costs to French enterprises based on different potential scenarios;
  • Offering social protection guarantees to their employees in the host country versus investing over 2-3 years in the implementation of a long-lasting and sustainable social protection scheme, and then pay only the employer’s contribution to the plan;
  • Implementing verification procedures on the proper application of codes of conduct relating to social protection along the value chain versus investing over 2-3 years in the implementation of a universal social protection floor targeted at all workers and their families;
  • Compensating victims of major industrial accidents versus investing over 2-3 years in the implementation of a long-lasting and sustainable social protection scheme, and then pay only the employer’s contribution to the plan;
  • Disseminating research results and “life stories” with a training and resource pack at the ILO Training Centre in Turin aimed at workers, employers and firms; share the pack with French enterprises;
  • Hosting a working group aimed at exchanging ideas and sharing synergies between French firms and firms from other countries (United States, India, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Brazil, etc.) on social protection, well-being and enterprise competitiveness.