How social protection can facilitate formalization in the Caribbean



PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Representatives from 16 Caribbean countries are in Trinidad and Tobago (March 14-17) to discuss the extension of social protection in the context of formalization policies.

Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean Claudia Coenjaerts, opened a Caribbean training Workshop on the Extension of Social Protection in the context of formalization policies.

“Social security extension strategies should apply to persons both in the formal and informal economy and support the growth of formal employment and the reduction of informality. These policies should be consistent with and facilitate the implementation of the social, economic and environmental development plans in the spirit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” she said.

The capacity building and knowledge sharing workshop is taking place at the Kapok Hotel in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, with participants from: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and also includes four Director Generals representing their National Insurance Services.

The objectives of the Workshop are to:

  • Build capacity of participants on formalization policies that have social protection as a main element in their design and share ILO’s strategies, policies and tools for the extension of social protection and formalization;
  • Share knowledge amongst participants about the policies and practices operating in their respective jurisdictions;
  • Examine success stories from different regions of the world that successfully increased social protection coverage in the formalization process;
  • Identify target groups for extend social protection coverage through formalization; and
  • Elaborate national and regional proposals to increase social protection coverage in the context of formalization.

Emphasis will be placed on three ILO Instruments adopted by its Member States. Recommendation 204 concerning the transition from informal economy to formal economy, Recommendation 202 concerning social protection floors and ILO Convention 102 concerning the minimum standards on social security.

Latin America and the Caribbean have managed to reduce unemployment and increase social protection and wage and salaried employment. However, there are still some 130 million informal workers[1]. Informality impedes taking advantage of the potential of a key sector of the economy where entrepreneurship, initiative, resourcefulness, sacrifice and effort are plentiful. Informality is almost always synonymous with low incomes, job instability, lack of social protection, discouragement and violation of rights. The rate of non-agricultural informality is 47.7 per cent, 48 per cent of the self-employed are informal, 79 per cent of domestic workers are informal, 33 per cent of the private sector workers are informal and 60 per cent of workers in microenterprises are informal.

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