ILO and Fafo launch rapid impact assessment of COVID-19 on workers in Jordan

The assessment highlights the vulnerabilities of informally employed workers, including Syrian refugees, during lockdown.

Press release | 01 May 2020
Amman, Jordan (ILO News) The ILO and Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research have launched the results of a rapid assessment on Friday (May 1), which examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups in the Jordanian labour market, including Jordanians, Syrian refugees, women and workers in informal employment.

The assessment, published on International Workers’ Day, is based on a selected sample of 1,580 respondents that includes workers and job seekers, who have received support or participated in programme and project schemes implemented by the ILO in Jordan.

The objective of the assessment was to explore some of the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment situation of workers in Jordan, and provide a baseline for assessing the longer-term impacts on those workers through follow-up surveys in the coming months.

It does this by examining the employment status of individuals before and during the lockdown, implications on their livelihoods as a result of changes in their employment status and the COVID-19 crisis in general; as well as coping and adaptive mechanisms taken by individuals and their families to deal with the crisis. It covers workers employed in various sectors, including construction, manufacturing, agriculture and the services sector.

The findings highlight the vulnerabilities of informally employed workers as a result of lockdown measures aimed to contain the COVID-19 virus in Jordan. Surveyed Syrian refugees were among those hardest hit as a result of their largely informal employment situation - whether in relation to lack of written contracts, social security and health insurance coverage or valid work permits.

Almost half (47 per cent) of the respondents who were in employment before the COVID-19 outbreak, were currently out of work. Out of these, 13 per cent had been permanently dismissed, while 18 percent had been temporarily laid-off and 16 per cent were on paid leave. A third of surveyed Syrians who were in employment before the crisis had lost their jobs permanently, compared to 17 per cent of surveyed Jordanians.

In March, the average monthly wages for both surveyed Jordanian and Syrian workers were reduced by more than 40 per cent. This decline in income was reported to have been due to reduced working hours as well as the dismissal of some workers from their jobs on a permanent basis. A substantial number of individual respondents reported that their household income had decreased, particularly those in informal employment.

The assessment also explores the employment status of women, the majority of whom in the sample work in the manufacturing sector, which is largely a formal sector. Results show that women in the sample were better covered in terms of wage protection and social security as a result of working in more formal employment than men. The study also looks at increased duties during lockdown for household members, including childcare responsibilities. The increase in duties was substantially higher among women respondents than men.

“It is clear from the findings that formalisation and decent work are the most effective measures to support and protect workers before, during and after crisis situations,” said Maha Kattaa, ILO Regional Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist. “Even though women’s household responsibilities have increased during the lockdown, the sample of surveyed women shows that they are more resilient than the men because the majority of surveyed women workers are employed in the formal economy, so they are covered by written contracts, paid leave, social security and regular wage.”

“As part of the urgent response to address the needs and vulnerability of those employed in the informal economy, it is recommended that the responsive mechanisms established by the Government of Jordan to mitigate the impact of COVID 19, be continually reviewed to ensure that they are inclusive and leave no-one behind.”

The report proposes a set of recommendations to help better respond to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. This includes addressing pre-existing labour market challenges, mainly that of high informality, through an inclusive and gradual transition from an informal to a formal economy, which takes into consideration the concerns of both workers and employers.

The assessment is part of a series of studies on the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.