Social protection systems and social protection floors
A social protection system (or social security system) consists of all types of social protection schemes and programmes within a given country. These different schemes and programmes, which can be contributory or non-contributory, should be interlinked and complementary in their objectives and functions. For reasons of effectiveness and efficiency, it is essential that there is close coordination within the system.
Social protection floors are a fundamental element of national social protection systems, with the purpose of providing a basic level of protection for all.
The most recent social security instrument adopted by the ILO, the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), provides guidance to States on both social protection systems in general, and social protection floors in particular, to address the fact that the majority of the world’s population does not have access to social security.
It does so by providing a strategy for establishing and maintaining comprehensive social security systems through a two-pronged approach stipulating that States should (para 1):
- Establish and maintain a nationally-defined social protection floor that provides essential health care and basic income security to all residents and children;
- Progressively ensure higher levels of protection as set out in ILO social security standards (i.e. Convention No. 102 and higher standards).
States should establish nationally-defined social protection floors as quickly as possible, providing basic social security guarantees to all residents and children (paras 4 and 6). These guarantees should ensure at a minimum that, over the life cycle, all in need have access to essential health care and basic income security (paras 4 and 5). The Recommendation also provides specific guidance about establishing basic social security guarantees by law and access to complaint and appeal procedures (para 7), setting and updating the level of these guarantees (para 8), the implementation of these guarantees through different schemes and benefits, and coordination with other policy areas (paras 9 and 10), their financing (paras 11 and 12), national strategies for the extension of social security (paras 13-18) and monitoring (paras 19-24).
Recommendation No. 202 builds upon the principles laid out in Convention No. 102 to guide the implementation of national strategies for the extension of social security. This includes applying the following principles:
- Overall but also primary responsibility of the state;
- Universal protection with the aim of ensuring the social and economic participation of all members of society, and in particular disadvantaged persons, including those in the formal economy;
- Safeguarding and respecting the rights and dignity of protected persons (such as through the provision of adequate and predictable benefits; establishing a strong legal framework that provides, inter alia, for effective and accessible complaint and appeal procedures; respect for the principle of non-discrimination, gender equality; and responsiveness to the special needs of persons);
- Setting up robust social protection systems that move progressively toward the realization of social security for all through principles of:
- coherence and coordination;
- participatory management;
- solidarity in financing;
- transparency and accountability;
- financial sustainability; and
- regular monitoring and evaluation.
Photo credit: “Laos, Akha Tribe” by Dietmar Temps (CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)
National Insurance and Social Security Act (No. 15)
This Act to establish a system of national insurance and social security providing pecuniary payments by way of old-age benefit, invalidity benefit, survivors’s benefit, sickness benefit, maternity benefit and funeral benefit, and to substitute for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance a system of insurance against injury or death caused by accident arising out of […]
Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204)
This Recommendation recognizes the lack of protection of workers in the informal economy, and provides guidance for improving their protection and facilitating transitions to the formal economy. It also recognizes that decent work deficits – the denial of rights at work, the absence of sufficient opportunities for quality employment, inadequate social protection and the absence […]
Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)
A reference for the development of social security systems, Convention No. 102 is the flagship of the up-to-date social security Conventions since it is deemed to embody the internationally accepted definition of the very principle of social security. Convention No. 102 is unique for both its conceptual formulation of social security, and the guidance it provides for […]
Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)
Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]
Maintenance of Social Security Rights Convention, 1982 (No. 157)
Convention No. 157 and its accompanying Recommendation No. 167 specifically address the issue of the maintenance of social security rights of migrant workers and complement Convention No. 118, focusing on equality of treatment and exportability. Unlike Convention No. 118 however, which allows State Parties to choose one or more out of the nine branches, Convention […]
Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962 (No. 118)
Convention No. 118 addresses the issue of the social security of migrant workers in a global manner. It covers the nine branches of social security and provides that, for each branch accepted under the Convention, a ratifying State undertake to grant equality of treatment to nationals of other ratifying States (and their dependents) with its […]
Universal Social Protection Country Cases
Countries have used many options to finance universal social protection. Those options include: (i) re-allocating public expenditures (e.g., from financing public subsidies to financing specific programs); (ii) increasing tax revenues, including revenue generated from taxation of natural resources; (iii) using the reductions of debt or debt servicing; (iv) expanding social security coverage and contributory revenues, […]
EU Social Protection Systems Programme (EU-SPS)
The EU Social Protection Systems Programme (EU-SPS) is a 4-year programme supporting ten developing partner country governments and national expert institutions in their efforts to develop inclusive and sustainable social protection systems in close co-ordination with other international partners. Link to website
Why We Need Social Protection
This policy guide, developed by ESCAP together with Development Pathways, explains the basic principles of social protection and the impact it can have on poverty reduction, social cohesion, economic growth and the environment. It shows how investing in inclusive social protection can accelerate progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. The […]
Recommendation on Social Protection Floors: Basic Principles for Innovative Solutions
This book assesses the catalogue of principles included in the ILO Recommendation on Social Protection Floors from a legal perspective. Despite the international community’s recognition of social protection as a human right, the vast majority of the world’s population still has no access to social protection. In a major effort to address this situation, the International […]
Reflecting on the Human Right to Social Security
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 asserts that social security is an inalienable human right. Realizing this human right is often considered, simply, as a matter of political will and of administrative aptitude. In these terms, the progressive realization of the human right to social security may be viewed as the […]
Social Protection Floors Calculator
The ILO’s Social Protection Floors Calculator makes it possible to estimate the costs of child and orphan allowances, maternity benefits, public works programs for those without jobs, disability and old-age pensions. Link to calculator