Social protection was high on the agenda of the G20 Employment and Labour Ministers meeting on 22 June. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) contributed to the ministerial discussions, alongside other international organizations. The need to strengthen institutional capacities was highlighted in the Ministerial Declaration, including new G20 Policy Principles on social protection.
The meeting took place in Catania, Italy. It focussed on dealing with a global crisis and ensuring an inclusive recovery from the pandemic. ISSA President Joachim Breuer participated in the G20 Employment and Labour Ministers meeting. In his intervention, Professor Breuer stressed that it must be a priority to reinforce social protection policy and implementation in order to realise an inclusive recovery from COVID-19 and be prepared for a future crisis.
The G20 ministers adopted a Declaration on Fostering an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery of labour markets and societies, which picked up on the message of the ISSA President. The declaration points to the need to strengthen social protection systems, build institutional capacity, improve the accessibility of contributory systems and take into account the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) of the International Labour Organization (ILO). This approach can support an inclusive social and economic recovery, leaving no-one behind.
Interestingly, the declaration of the labour and employment ministers goes further and includes a set of G20 Policy Principles to ensure access to adequate social protection for all in a changing world of work. The document points to the need to strengthen institutional capacities to deliver timely and effective benefits and services to eligible people. It also provides further detailed guidance on how to make contributory systems more accessible and how to build social protection floors that are adequate, inclusive, sustainable, effective, and accessible to all, facilitating transitions from the informal to the formal sector.
In his intervention to the G20 employment and labour ministers, ISSA President Breuer presented findings from the ISSA mapping and analysis of social security responses to COVID-19. Measures implemented by G20 countries are similar to many other countries. This includes extending access and coverage within health care, sickness benefits and paid sick leave, unemployment protection and benefits, social assistance and family-related benefits, particularly to uncovered groups such as part-time, temporary and self-employed workers. Professor Breuer emphasised that the challenge will be to maintain necessary protection of populations and workers beyond the immediate crisis of COVID-19.
The G20 Declaration acknowledges the expertise provided by international organizations such as the ISSA, ILO, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group (WBG), and the ISSA will continue to offer its support to the G20 in order to advance towards the goal of universal social protection.