2018 SafeDay in Peru – Leading by example
In his address to the International Labour Conference on 6 June, ISSA Secretary General Hans-Horst Konkolewsky emphasised the importance of gender mainstreaming in social security. He expressed full support to the ILO’s push for gender equality from the ISSA and its global membership.
The International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva gathers government, employer and worker representatives from member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO). At this year’s 107th conference, the ILO put gender equality at the centre of attention through its new report “The Women at Work Initiative: the push for equality”.
On 6 June, the Secretary General of the ISSA, Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, addressed the ILC on behalf of ISSA President Joachim Breuer. Mr Konkolewsky welcomed the ILO’s focus on gender equality, and emphasised the important role of appropriate social security systems and delivery. ISSA and its membership fully support the ILO on this issue.
Evidence shows that poorly designed social security systems risk perpetuating gender equalities that exist in the labour market by mirroring pay gaps or unpaid care periods in lower levels of protection for women. However, experiences from Scandinavia for instance demonstrate that well-designed social security systems can compensate for inequalities in pay and work.
The ISSA is actively addressing gender equality in social security through its reports on global challenges, compiling of good practices and through events and traing. It recently organized a seminar on gender mainstreaming in Iceland, where it was discussed how to take forward gender mainstreaming in the 12 ISSA Guidelines for excellence in social security.
During the ILC, the ISSA met with delegations from the International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM), the Cuban Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Social Security Board of Indonesia, the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development of South Sudan and the Minister of Labour from Palestine. ISSA also met and discussed with many of its members at its stand.
The world of work is changing rapidly, with platform workers, non-standard contracts and self-employment becoming more and more common. This presents a challenge to social security systems to guarantee effective access to all branches of social security for all kinds of workers, without discrimination based on the type of contractual relationship.
The ISSA European Network discussed in depth these issues at a recent seminar held in Brussels. As Europe experiences a trend towards a wider variety of forms of work and with greater numbers of workers engaged in “atypical” work arrangements, policy-makers and social security administrations are looking into what this means not only for the protection of workers but for the financing of social security programmes. There is increasing urgency to address these new and emerging challenges. In most countries, self-employed and non-standard workers do not have the same degree of protection as workers with a conventional employer-employee relationship. This is especially so in the domains of unemployment, sickness and maternity benefits as well as for accident protection at the workplace.
The ISSA European Network seminar contributed to taking forward discussions on how social security systems should adapt to the evolving world of work. New ways of financing social security are being investigated by policy makers and experts, including taxation of machines or robots, increasing valued added tax, or introducing an “Eco tax”. Social security programmes and administrations are evolving. While responses must be country-specific, a common feature is for a holistic life-course approach, involving all branches of social security, as well as other sectors, such as the education and health systems.
The world of work is changing rapidly, with platform workers, non-standard contracts and self-employment becoming more and more common. This puts a challenge on social security systems to guarantee effective access to all branches of social security for all kinds of workers, without discriminating based on the type of contractual relationship. These issues were discussed in-depth within the ISSA European Network at a seminar in Brussels recently. As Europe experiences a trend towards a wider variety of forms of work, policy makers and social security administrations are looking into what this means and how to address new arising challenges.
On the one hand, a variety of employment and contract models can represent a positive opportunity for both employers and workers in terms of more flexibility, and for policy-makers it can mean more job creation and labour market integration. On the other hand, it can pose a challenge to social security schemes. In many countries, self-employed and non-standard workers are not offered the same protection as traditional employees, especially in the domain of unemployment, sickness or maternity benefits or for accident protection at the workplace. New ways of organizing work and production also represent a challenge for the sustainable and adequate financing of social security programmes. Income generated through online platforms may not be subject to contributions, the lower wages earned by many in non-standard work will elicit lower contributions and thus lower future benefits, the absence of employer contributions will heighten this challenge, and increasing automation and the development of robot technologies may lead to the replacement of some types of jobs, again reducing social security contributions.
Efforts are being made to see how social protection schemes can benefit all types of workers, and to suppress thresholds and barriers that prevent workers in precarious situations to adequately benefit from these very schemes. The European Union is active in addressing these issues. In April, the European Commission proposed measures encouraging EU countries to allow non-standard workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes, build up and take up adequate social benefits, and facilitate the transfer of social security benefits between schemes. The proposal covers a broad range of social security benefits.
New ways of financing social security are also being investigated by policy makers and experts, including taxation of machines or robots, increasing valued added tax, or introducing an “Eco tax”. However, each one of these fiscal transfers poses new challenges that have to be considered carefully. Not least, they signal a reduced role for social insurance and a greater role for state financing. The EU has so far avoided the issue of taxing robots and technology, and has rather focused on driving forward innovation while ensuring a stronger focus on upskilling and reskilling of the workforce. The ILO recently published a research paper on the future of work and innovative approaches for social protection.
Some countries are piloting experimental projects. One policy option may be universal basic income (UBI). Paid unconditionally to all, this would help satisfy the human right to social security. The detail of the design of UBI is one key issue, not least how such a programme will operate alongside existing social security guarantees. The impact of labour market activity is another key issue. As a global first, a national pilot study is underway in Finland.
The seminar organized within the ISSA European Network, contributed to taking forward discussions on how to adapt social security in order to face this new world of work. Social security and its institutions will have to evolve, adapt to the variety of the forms of work, innovate and look for alternative solutions. The answer can only be holistic, involving all branches of social security, as well as other sectors, such as the education systems, and take into account cross-border and international realities.
In Peru, our highly esteemed long-time supporter Cecilia Rosas celebrated this year's SafeDay on 28 April by giving two courses: "Prevention of Electrical Risks" and "Prevention of accidents at home". In both courses, participants learned about the "Five Safety Rules: Working in a de-energised state" and talked about the World Day for Safety and Health at Work – SafeDay.