About the Social Protection Department

Mission and objectives

The objective of the Social Protection Department is the enhanced capacity of constituents, decision makers and stakeholders, to design sustainable social security schemes, and to manage and administer them more efficiently, with a view to the provision of better benefits and the extension of their coverage. In cooperation with ILO field offices, the Social Protection Department provides policy advice, undertakes research and carries out technical cooperation activities ranging from front-line support in the establishment of national social security legislation and actuarial valuations of social protection schemes to support in tripartite dialogue processes for the design of social protection systems and contributions to Decent Work Country Programmes.

Throughout, emphasis is placed on reaffirming the fundamental nature of social security and social protection as a human right. ILO activities aim at helping member States to improve and expand the protection they provide to all members of the community across the full range of contingencies: basic income security in case of need, health care, sickness, old age and invalidity, unemployment, employment injury, maternity, family responsibilities and death.

The work of the ILO on the extension of social protection is based on the two-dimensional strategy set out in the conclusions adopted by the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2011 as well as in the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) adopted by the 101st Session of the ILC in 2012. This two-dimensional approach aims at the rapid implementation of national social protection floors that ensure universal access to at least nationally-defined sets of basic social security guarantees (horizontal dimension), in line with the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), and the progressive achievement of higher levels of protection (vertical dimension) within comprehensive social security systems guided by the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) and other ILO social security Conventions and Recommendations setting out higher standards..

Taking full advantage of its tripartite structure to promote and ensure that member states give high priority and incorporate social security in national development plans and poverty reduction strategies, the Social Protection Department contributes to the achievement of the ILO’s mandate “to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all”.

The role of social security in the Decent Work Agenda

  1. 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.

Child Labour and Social Protection

  1. Social protection measures play a significant role in ending child labour. Pensions, as well as unemployment, maternity, employment injury and disability benefits help prevent situations where children have to work to supplement inadequate or insecure family incomes or enter child labour due to death, injury, sickness or other sudden income shocks.

Social security as a response to the crisis

  1. In crisis conditions, the provision of social assistance and security benefits paid to unemployed workers and other vulnerable recipients act as social and economic stabilizers. It not only prevents people from falling further into poverty, but it also limits the fall in aggregate demand, thereby curtailing the potential depth of the recession.

Social protection and migrant workers

  1. The protection of migrant workers has always been considered as an important issue for the ILO. The situation of migrant workers is diverse. Whatever their situation, however, their basic interest will invariably be to see the removal of restrictions in national legislation which impede their enjoyment of full social security coverage and eligibility for benefits, wherever the stay.