Social protection scheme

Cambodia's social protection scheme helps rebuild shattered lives

The ILO/Korea Partnership Programme in Asia and the Pacific works with the Royal Government of Cambodia to implement an employment injury insurance programme.

Feature | 24 July 2012
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (ILO News) - When his only son died in a road accident on his way to work, Traing Sreng thought the sky had fallen in. It happened just a few days before his son’s planned wedding. The marriage had been expected to bring happiness and prosperity to the family but the loss of the young man made Mr Sreng fear his old age would be spent in poverty and misery. “My son contributed to our family income. When he died we had nothing,” he recalls.

Several years have passed since the tragedy, and looking at the photo of his late son, which has pride of place in the centre of the family sitting room, still brings sadness to Mr Sreng. But the older man’s fears of financial ruin were unfounded, because he benefited from the Employment Injury Insurance scheme developed by the Cambodian Government.

Traing Sreng is beneficiary of the Employment Injury Scheme. 
The insurance scheme is financed through mandatory employer contributions of just below 1 per cent of a worker’s salary. The National Social Security Fund or NSSF, which administers the scheme, processes more than 12,000 claims annually. Before the NSSF was established there had been no social insurance in the country to protect the workers on work-related accidents. The Fund covers not only accidents and injuries at the workplace but also those that happen while commuting to or from work.

The survivor’s benefit has helped with our expenses and financial burden. For that, I thank NSSF very much.”

Mr Sreng found NSSF with the help from some social workers. He filed a claim and soon received some money. “The survivor’s benefit has helped with our expenses and financial burden,” he said. “For that, I thank NSSF very much.”

The scheme was set up with technical support from the ILO/Korea Partnership Programme and the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service or COMWEL. They collaborated closely with the Cambodian government, as well as workers’ and employers’ organizations.

“In the case of the employer-funded NSSF, technical support was more important than financial contributions,” Keo Bunna, the director of Benefits Division of NSSF, said. “The technical support and human resources provided by the ILO/Korea partnership were vital in helping us introduce this scheme.”

Kang Young-shin, Economic Consular of Korean Embassy in Cambodia, said “it is essential to have a public insurance system to have a social safety net for the labour as a whole. Therefore the Korean government wanted to have such a role in this country.”

Vong Sreymom relies on a monthly disability income from Employment Injury Insurance scheme. © ILO
Vong Sreymom is another beneficiary of the scheme. The young woman lost three quarters of her left arm in a road accident while commuting to her job in a garment factory from her home in the suburbs of Phnom Penh. The effect was devastating, mentally as well as physically.

“I wanted to cry all the time – I was so shocked. I couldn’t accept this injury,” she said. “Immediately after I left the hospital I was depressed. It was difficult to do many things including daily chores like washing my clothes.”

As she gradually recovered, Ms Sreymom re-learned ways to do light household work, but she was unable to go back to her old job or earn a living as she had before. But a monthly disability benefit from the NSSF helped her to survive, and she will continue to receive the payments for the rest of her life.

Sav Pannop receives a similar life-long, monthly disability benefit, even though he has been able to return to work. He lost the sight in his left eye in an accident at work. “I was changing the blade on a machine that cuts ceramic tiles. When I installed a new blade and tried to cut another tile, the blade snapped into small pieces and flew into my eye...”

Sav Pannop lost the sight in his left eye at work. He will receive the monthly benefit for the rest of his life. © ILO
“The ILO is the recognized authority in assisting countries in designing and reforming social security programmes,” Maurizio Bussi, the Officer-in-Charge of ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic, said. “Through this partnership with the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labour we have supported the Royal Government of Cambodia in making the NSSF a reality for thousands of workers.”

The Cambodian authorities are now planning to expand the NSSF concept into other types of social security provision, such as a public health insurance scheme.