Session 1

Social insurance and protection as the missing fundamental for the informal sector

29 September 2020
2:00 – 3:15pm Manila time



COVID-19 has forced a strict lockdown in many parts of the world, resulting in a loss of jobs and livelihoods especially for a large part of the two billion informal workers globally who are often working without adequate safety measures and social protection . In developing and emerging economies, the informal sector accounts for a third of official GDP (on average) and roughly 70 per cent of total employment. The lacking safety measures and medical insurance have also made households relying on informal work more vulnerable to the health-related impacts of the pandemic. Many unregistered, mostly small-scale businesses have had to permanently halt their operations during the lockdown, often due to the lack of savings and their exclusion from COVID-19 stimulus and financial assistance packages.

Knowing this, the session aims to examine how to advance the accessibility of social insurance and protection schemes to the informal sector to strengthen the resilience of the low-income populations and microenterprises to COVID-19 and other disasters.

Economic recovery from the current pandemic may be long, 5 to 10 years, and not without setbacks caused by other catastrophic events. In the medium and long term, it may be best to think about measures that will reduce informality and thus allow these workers and businesses to access social insurance and protection. The focus goes on the following questions:

  1. What are the key lessons learned from the social protection schemes and DRF solutions in regard to reaching the informal sector?
  2. What factors inhibit social protection schemes and DRF solutions to reach and meet the needs of informal businesses and workers?
  3. How can social protection schemes and DRF mechanisms be made more accessible to the informal sector? As one example, how can more effective clustering of the informal sector be encouraged to ensure a stronger voice in insurance product and policy development?
  4. How can the capacity and expertise of private insurance providers contribute to the accessibility of social protection and DRF solution?
  5. How can DRF become a means to help informal workers and business to transition into the formal sector? How can it promote greater awareness of the advantages and protection that come with formalization?