Social protection systems around the world face challenges to provide full and effective coverage for workers in all forms of employment, including those in ‘new’ forms of employment. The nature of work is expected to change markedly over the coming decades. Major trends are: automation and digitalisation, labour market changes (including the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and rise of flexible forms of work and working patterns) and changes to the nature of production, with markets becoming increasingly dominated by large firms (Behrendt & Nguyen, 2018; World Bank, 2019).
While some emerging work and employment arrangements may provide greater flexibility for workers and employers, they may lead to significant gaps in social protection coverage (or create challenges to filling existing gaps). Many workers in ‘non-standard forms of employment have lower job and income security, poorer working conditions and lower social protection coverage’, in both traditional sectors, such as agriculture or construction, as well as emerging sectors, including the digital economy (Behrendt & Nguyen, 2018: 1). ‘Women, young people and migrants are overrepresented in these forms of work’ (ibid.), as well as indigenous people and members of many ethnic minorities. These new forms of employment will limit contributions to social insurance schemes (ibid.: 2), while ‘the inward migratory pressure that many developed countries are expected to incur in the future may squeeze social protection systems further’ (Balliester & Elsheikhi, 2018: 38). Recommendations include providing workers in non-standard forms of employment with social security benefits, and more transformative solutions such as universal basic income (ibid.).
World Bank. (2019). World development report 2019. The changing nature of work. Washington, DC: World Bank.
This World Development Report notes that many jobs today, and many more in the near future, will require specific skills – a combination of technological know-how, problem-solving, and critical thinking – as well as soft skills such as perseverance, collaboration, and empathy. The report challenges governments to take better care of their citizens and calls for a universal, guaranteed minimum level of social protection.
ILO. (2019). Work for a brighter future. Global commission on the future of work. Geneva: ILO.
This report details the new forces transforming the world of work and sets out a human-centred agenda to deliver economic security, equal opportunity and social justice. It identifies three pillars of action: increasing investment in (1) people’s capabilities, (2) the institutions of work, and (3) decent and sustainable work.
Behrendt, C., & Nguyen, Q. A. (2018). Innovative approaches for ensuring universal social protection for the future of work (Future of Work Research Paper 1). Geneva: International Labour Office.
This paper reviews innovative approaches by countries to adapt social protection systems to the changing world of work, focusing on workers who commonly are not provided with social protection: part-time workers, workers on temporary contracts, self-employed workers and those with unclear employment relationships, and workers on digital platforms. It highlights how innovative adaptations combine contributory and non-contributory mechanisms.
RNSF. (2017). Extending coverage: Social protection and the informal economy. Experiences and ideas from researchers and practitioners. Research, Network and Support Facility, ARS Progetti, Rome; Lattanzio Advisory, Milan; & AGRER, Brussels.
This book is a collection of current knowledge and experiences of how to extend the benefits of social protection to workers in the informal economy. Compiled during a workshop held at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, from 6–10 February 2017, with a mixed group of scientists and practitioners implementing projects in Egypt, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Tanzania. It argues that social protection systems can be designed to be more flexible and illustrates how the underlying idea of social protection can be made operational for the informal sector.
McCord, A. (2018). Linking social protection to sustainable employment: Current practices and future directions. Manila: Australian Aid, Social Protection for Employment Community & GIZ.
Balliester, T., & Elsheikhi, A. (2018). The future of work: A literature review (Research Department Working Paper 29). International Labour Office.
Alfers, L., Lund, F., & Moussié, R. (2017). Approaches to social protection for informal workers: Aligning productivist and human rights‐based approaches. International Social Security Review, 90(4), 67–85.
Holmes, R., & Scott, L. (2016). Extending social insurance to informal workers: A gender analysis (ODI Working Paper 438). London: ODI.