Social protection systems
One of the major challenges in social protection is integrating diverse initiatives into genuine systems with the capacity to coordinate programmes with the State institutions responsible for their design, financing, implementation, regulation, monitoring and evaluation, with the aim of raising the population’s living standards.
To adequately supply benefits, social protection policies and programmes need to be coordinated among the different social policy sectors —social development, health, education, labour among others— and between the different administrative levels at which these policies and programmes are implemented. On the demand side, social protection systems should seek to address the different needs among the population, in terms of both the individual and family life cycles and the social group to which they belong. This depends on factors such as income level, type of labour-market participation, area of residence or ethnic group, among others (Cecchini and Martínez, 2011).
Building blocks for social protection systems
Since the early 20th century, several international instruments and recommendations have been drafted and ratified by States. These documents provide a substantial framework from which to begin designing and implementing social protection systems from a rights-based approach. These instruments, particularly Convention No. 102, set down the following principles to guide the implementation of the social security system, irrespective of the type of scheme or programme used to supply benefits:
- Compulsory affiliation: All persons protected by the different schemes and programmes that make up the social security system must be affiliated.
- State responsibility: The state has overall responsibility to guarantee the proper administration of the social security system including by securing financial sustainability through periodical actuarial valuations, and has the obligation to ensure that benefits are duly provided.
- Collective financing: The cost of benefits and the costs associated with administering the delivery of all benefits should be shared by all members of society whether through social insurance contributions or taxes (or a mix of both) to ensure social solidarity and cohesion.
- Participatory management: To ensure that the interest of the persons protected by the scheme are duly taken into account, the representatives of the persons protected should participate, or be consulted, in the management of the scheme whenever a scheme is not entrusted to a public institution.
- Due process: Persons protected by social security schemes must have a right of appeal in the event of the refusal of a benefit or a right of complaint as to the quality or quantity of the benefit.
- Grounds for suspension: While the suspension of a social security benefit is not entirely prohibited, cases leading to a suspension are be limited to three types: (1) the absence of the person concerned from the territory of the State in which the entitlement to the benefit has been acquired; (2) situations in which the person concerned is maintained at public expense, or at the expense of a social security institution or service, or is in receipt of other benefits or indemnities; and finally, (3) a number of cases related to the personal conduct of the beneficiary, for example, making a fraudulent claim or wilful misconduct.
- Periodic adjustment: Benefits provided over a long period, such as old age pensions, must be adjusted periodically according to changes in the cost of living so benefits maintain their purchasing power over time.
Recommendation No. 202 has further developed this framework, particularly by setting out that states should establish as quickly as possible nationally-defined social protection floors as a fundamental elements of their national social protection systems (paras 1, 2 and 4).
- Social protection systems and social protection floors
- Disability benefits
- Employment injury protection
- Family and child benefits
- Health care, long-term care and sickness benefits
- Maternity protection
- Old age and survivors’ pensions and related benefits
- Unemployment protection
- Other benefits