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IOE Contact

Pierre Vincensini

Direct line: +41 22 929 00 15

Social Protection

The ILO has adopted 31 Conventions and 23 Recommendations on social security issues since its foundation. Despite intensive efforts to promote these, the ratification rate is low.

The concepts and means of delivery for social protection schemes have changed over time and are used differently in different cultures. There are social transfers, social protection, social security and social assistance. Benefits can be delivered in cash or in kind and can be conditional on participation in prescribed public programmes, they can be funded from a variety of private and/or state sources. The UN initiative and the Bachelet report led the debate for social protection to provide a fair and inclusive globalisation and the concept of social protection floor(s), was developed.


Social Protection Floors

The IOE supported these discussions and backed the conclusions of the discussions at the June 2011 International Labour Conference which led to the adoption of the stand-alone Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors at the 2012 International Labour Conference, where it was elaborated that the social protection floors should comprise at least the following basic social security guarantees:

  1. access to a nationally defined set of goods and services, constituting essential health care, including maternity care, that meets the criteria of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality;
  2. basic income security for children, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, providing access to nutrition, education, care and any other necessary goods and services;
  3. basic income security, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, for persons in active age who are unable to earn sufficient income, particularly in cases of sickness, unemployment, maternity and disability; and
  4. basic income security, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, for older persons.


Global Business Network

The ILO launched in 2015 the ILO Global Business Network on Social Protection Floors. The Network aims to create the opportunity for global companies to exchange information on current business practices and emerging trends related to company programmes on social protection floors, which covers a range of employee benefit programmes such as medical care, injury and illness, maternity/family leave, disability, and life insurance, as well as broader issues such stress and well-being at work. It also seeks to explore how such programmes help to support the development of public/national protection systems.


The IOE remains closely engaged with the debate because social protection measures can provide a stabilising mechanism in times of crisis and can help address, integration, diversity and migration challenges. Most importantly though, businesses in Member states will either directly or indirectly be a major funding provider for social protection measures.