RationaleAs the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, more and more countries are seeking guidance on immediate measures to protect workers from contracting COVID-19, as well as options for responding to the detrimental employment related effects of the crisis in the medium and long-term: increases in unemployment and underemployment, reduced incomes for informal workers and increased working poverty and pressures on remaining livelihoods to cater for larger numbers of people.
In particular, in countries with insufficient fiscal space, weak social protection systems and large numbers of informal workers, the pressures on governments to respond will be enormous. Many of these countries may seek guidance from the ILO on how to respond. Experience with different types of past crises has clearly demonstrated that increased fiscal spending on infrastructure, emergency employment schemes and Public Employment Programmes (PEPs) are an effective and indispensable part of such responses. They remain the most viable instruments for governments to generate immediate employment opportunities.
While COVID-19 has posed some specific challenges related to the health risks of participants in such programmes, measures to minimize these risks have been developed for affected programmes adapted to their country context.
It is important that such strategies and programmes are well-designed and implemented to ensure they achieve their intended goals. The ILO's Employment-Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) therefore supports member states by:
- Advocating for and developing financing modalities for these programmes, both with national government and development partners;
- Collaborating with governments in the design of these programmes to ensure that they are effective and respond to societal needs while creating assets and jobs;
- Supporting governments with the operationalizing and implementation of these programmes and, in the context of COVID-19, ensuring the health risks are adequately mitigated;
- Developing institutional capacity and technical training of government technical agencies, contractors and communities;
- Documenting best practices and sharing learning across programmes and countries.
Guidance and notes
- Policy Brief: Coping with double casualties: How to support the working poor in low-income countries in response to COVID-19 (also available in French, Spanish, and Japanese)
- Policy Brief: The role of public employment programmes and employment guarantee schemes in COVID-19 policy responses (also available in Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese)
- EIIP Guidance: Adjusting labour practices in employment-intensive works in response to COVID-19 (also available in French and Arabic)
- EIIP Guidance: COVID-19 - Job Creation through Employment-Intensive Public Works Programmes (also available in French, Spanish, and Arabic)
- EIIP Guidance: Technical note on water, sanitation and health (WASH) interventions in response to COVID-19 (also available in Spanish, and Japanese)
- Assessment Report: Facing double crises: Rapid assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable workers in Jordan
- Blog piece: "The construction sector can help lead the economic recovery – Here’s how" (also available in Japanese)
Country responses1. Tunisia: Click here to read the summary of actions taken in Tunisia (available only in French).
2. South Africa: Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
3. ILO Regional Office for Arab States (Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq)
4.Click here for an external publication on Public Works Programmes in India, the Philippines, and Uzbekistan.
Helpful guidelines and tools
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
Increasing Employment Impact of Infrastructure (Environmental) Investments
- Entry page for EmpIA-related information
- Guide for Monitoring Employment and Conducting Employment Impact Assessments (EmpIA) of Infrastructure Investments
- Local investments for climate change adaptation: Green jobs through green works
- Entry page for Community and Local Resource-Based (LRB) Approach
- Community contracting initiatives in calamity-prone areas: A Practical Guide
- Job creation for Syrian refugees and host communities: Employment-Intensive Investment strategies in Jordan and Lebanon (click here for a note on Jordan)
- Lebanon: Public works for women’s empowerment, refugee livelihood promotion and host community development
- Lessons from Kinofelis, the Greek public employment programme
- Rapid employment creation in times of crisis: From cash for work to sustainable recovery and livelihood development
- Community Infrastructure in Urban Areas: Creating jobs while improving low-income settlements
Public Employment Programmes (PEPs)
- Entry page for PEPs-related information
- Towards the right to work: A guidebook for designing innovative public employment programmes (IPEP)
- Employment Working Paper No. 69: Towards the right to work: Innovations in Public Employment Programmes
- Employment Working Paper No. 150: Towards acceptable wages for public employment programmes: A guide for conducting studies for wage setting and estimating labour supply response
- Tanzania: Gender-responsive public works as a key building block of social protection for all