ILO, tripartite partners and parliamentarian committee hold consultation on draft social security law in Iraq

The law is a significant step in extending social security for workers in the private sector, as part of efforts towards establishing a comprehensive social protection system in Iraq.

Press release | 19 June 2021
(ILO News) The ILO held a two-day meeting with its tripartite constituents - government, employer, and worker representatives - and the parliamentary committee to review the draft retirement and social security law currently under consideration by the Parliament.

The law is a significant step in extending social security for workers in the private sector, as part of efforts towards establishing a comprehensive social protection system in Iraq.

“The focus of our discussions today falls within one of the key priorities of the Decent Work Country Programme, which is to reduce vulnerabilities through extending and strengthening social protection in Iraq,” said Maha Kattaa, ILO’s Country Coordinator in Iraq. “As part of these efforts, the ILO has developed actuarial and legal assessments of the draft law, that are in line with International Labour Standards and international good practice.” 

The two-day meeting on June 18-19 brought together members of the parliamentary committee, representatives of the General Federation of Iraq Trade Unions, the Conference of Iraqi Workers Federations and Unions, the Iraqi Federation of Industries, and representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Planning. It follows a series of bilateral technical meetings which were held in recent months between the ILO, the government and social partners, to discuss key findings of actuarial technical note and a legal assessment.

“The ILO is exactly in the right place here because this exercise of dialogue between government, employers and workers is what the ILO is about,” said Luca Pellerano, Senior Social Protection Specialist at the ILO’s Regional Office for the Arab States. “We are very happy to support this workshop and the upcoming steps that you would want to take, to make sure that this very important law reflects the views of all our tripartite partners and is in line with international labour standards in the area of social security.”

The two-day meeting focused on five key issues, namely financial sustainability; long-term benefits such as the retirement system; short term benefits including unemployment, maternity coverage and employment injury; the extension of coverage to the self-employed and informal workers; and issues of governance.

Iraq’s system of social protection covers mainly two distinct groups of the population: public employees and the poor. Coverage of other working adults and their families, including those employed in the private sector, especially those in unstable forms of wage employment and the self-employed, is not automatic. The draft law is intended to replace the current Social Security Law No. 39 of 1971. If passed, the draft law will bring in several changes that would make the Iraqi social security legislation closer to meeting the minimum requirements of International Labour Standards.

“This law will cover a large category of workers in Iraq and this law is not for one year or two years, but for the future of the next generations. It will lead to positive change in Iraq’s society and open new opportunities. It will encourage the private sector and support the sector to advance,” said Raad Hamid al-Dahlaki, the Head of the Parliamentarian Committee on Labour, Social Affairs and Displacement.

The workshop is part of efforts, supported by the European Union to reform social protection in the country as outlined in the Government’s White Paper on economic reform.  The ultimate objective of the joint programme, which also brings together the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), is to ensure that the vulnerable and the poor, including children, youth, women, elderly, informal economy workers, Persons with Disabilities and Internally Displaced Persons benefit from equitable access to an integrated social protection system.

Barbara Egger, the Head of Cooperation for the EU in Iraq confirmed the EU’s full commitment to supporting social protection reform in Iraq by stating “The Covid-19 pandemic compounded by the economic crisis, has had a significant impact on the socio-economic well-being of all Iraqis, thereby highlighting the need for a comprehensive functional social safety net in Iraq. As European Union, we are thus pleased to support together with our UN-partners the laudable efforts of the Iraqi Government for reinvigorating the social compact and undertaking comprehensive social protection reform as laid out in the White Paper and relevant sector policies such as the Decent Work Country Programme. The inclusive tri-partite consultation workshop organised by ILO in June in Erbil to discuss the draft retirement law and the draft social protection law, is a welcome first tangible result of our EU efforts in this regard. At this stage, we put our hopes in the deliberations of the Iraqi Council of Representatives to take this important agenda forward.”

Moving forward, the improvements agreed upon during the two-day workshop will be reflected in a revised draft of the law. Social partners agreed to meet again in another workshop to revaluate the revised draft and work collaboratively to arrive at the best draft law that maximizes the societal outcomes and contributes to the aspiration for an economically productive and socially inclusive nation.