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).
Photo credit: “Homeworkers and their families in Indonesia” by iloasiapacific (CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).
For an Alternative Framing of Pension Policy
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The Compatibility between ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the ICESCR
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The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors
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Conditionality and Human Rights
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Conditionalities, Cash and Gender Relations
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Persons with disabilities
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Persons living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses
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Depending on the definition of social protection used (which my vary from country to country) in any given context, national social protection systems may also comprise benefits which cannot easily be classified into the nine “standard” branches of social security, namely health care, sickness, old age, unemployment, employment injury, family and child support, maternity, disability […]
Unemployment protection schemes provide income support over a determined period of time to unemployed people who are capable of working. Their objective is to provide at least partial income replacement for the loss of earnings resulting from temporary unemployment, enabling the beneficiary to maintain a certain standard of living during the transition period until he […]
Old age and survivors’ pensions and related benefits
It is essential that persons are provided with reliable sources of income security throughout their old age. As people grow older, they can rely less and less on income from employment for a number of reasons: while highly educated professionals may often continue well-remunerated occupations until late in their life, the majority of the population […]
Maternity protection and parental leave entitlements
Maternity protection includes protection against suspension or loss of income during maternity leave, and access to maternal health care. Maternity leave supported with cash benefits to fully or partially replace women’s earnings during the final stages of pregnancy and after childbirth is of critical importance for the well-being of pregnant women, new mothers and their […]
Health care, long-term care and sickness benefits
Health coverage, and particularly access to health care when it is needed, is crucial for human well-being. In addition, of all the elements of social protection, health care is most essential to the economy as a whole and to economic recovery in particular. Against this background, health protection schemes and systems that are well designed […]
Family and child benefits
Child and family benefits, in cash and in kind, play a particularly important role in realizing children’s rights and addressing their needs, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society. Evidence from many parts of the world demonstrates that social protection benefits have led to a marked improvement in children’s nutritional status. Cash transfer programmes […]
Employment injury protection
Employment injury benefit schemes, providing benefits in cash and in kind in cases of work-related accidents and occupational disease, were established to address one of the key challenges in modern workplaces. Employers are not only responsible for ensuring working conditions which secure the occupational safety and health of their workers, but also for ensuring fair, […]
Code du travail haïtien
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National Insurance and Social Security Act (No. 15)
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Reglamento para el goce del periodo de lactancia.
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Reglamento de la Ley de Servicio Civil. Acuerdo Gubernativo 18-98.
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National Insurance Act (Modified 2007)
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Survivors Benefits for Unmarried Couples and their Children in the UK
The Laws Regional standards: Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which secures the rights and freedoms of the ECHR without discrimination, read with the right to respect for family life under Article 8 and the protection of property rights in Article 1 of the First Protocol (A1P1). National legislation: Section […]
The Rights to Work and Health in The Sudan
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Women’s Right to Maternal Health Services in Uganda
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The Right to Affordable Care in the United States of America
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Women and children’s social and economic rights (including health) in Uganda
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The privatization of the pension system in Chile
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Application of international provisions concerning maternal health in the Netherlands
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Reduction of pensions for condemned prisoners in Azerbaijan
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How Secure Is Employment at Older Ages?
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How to Implement Inclusive Social Protection Schemes
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Universal Social Protection Country Cases
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EU Social Protection Systems Programme (EU-SPS)
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