The promotion of productive, high quality employment is key to ensuring sustainable social security systems, and vice versa. Together with rights at work and social dialogue they form ILO’s decent work agenda, and play an essential role in fostering inclusive and sustainable growth and social justice. Building on previous BRICS commitments, discussions and papers, this background paper addresses the important role of decent employment for sustainable social security systems in BRICS countries. Based on a review of key labour market and social protection indicators, the paper elaborates on the linkages between employment and the sustainability of social security systems. The second part of the paper discusses three concrete policy options in response to current demographic and labour market trends in BRICS countries and shows their potential impact on and implications for the sustainability of the social security system. The analysis shows that BRICS countries still have a large potential workforce that doesn’t contribute to the social security system. Bringing those who are not economically active into the labour force and supporting the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy could enhance the sustainability of the social security systems. Having more people in quality employment generates more resources for social protection and reduces pressure on governments’ social assistance budgets, thereby making social security more sustainable. The paper concludes by offering some policy recommendations to inform the exchange and cooperation among BRICS member States.