Unemployment insurance

Opening address at the workshop on Implementing reforms on the Philippines’ protection from unemployment schemes

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Workshop on Implementing reforms on the Philippines’ protection from unemployment schemes, Pasig City, Philippines, 15 December 2016

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 15 December 2016
  • Secretary Pernia of the National Economic Development Authority,
  • Congressman Ting of the House Committee on Labor and Employment,
  • Deputy Director General Edillon of the National Economic Development Authority,
  • Undersecretary Lagunzad of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Mr Isgut of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific,
  • Distinguished guests from the government of Korea and Viet Nam,
  • Officials from the government, academe, employers’ and workers’ organizations, civil society organizations, and development partners,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
It is a great pleasure to address this workshop with UN ESCAP and the Philippine Government as represented by the National Economic Development Authority. Our joint presence here today shows that protection of workers and their family, especially in difficult times such as losing a job, is a priority for all of us.

Last week, I attended the Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in Bali wherein 48 countries and territories from Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States agreed on the importance of promoting decent work and social justice. This becomes more and more relevant when job insecurity seems to be a challenge across countries.

While discussing the “future of work”, ILO constituents - government, workers and employers - recognize that social protection play a crucial role in securing income and livelihood of workers and their families, reducing poverty and inequalities and creating an enabling environment for inclusive economic growth.

The economic and financial crisis had an impact on jobs in every country of the region, including the Philippines. Often the only alternative for those who lost employment is to accept or create some informal and precarious jobs. In response, the United Nations adopted the social protection floor concept in 2009.

Later, representatives of the Government, but also workers and employers of 185 member States, including the Philippines, unanimously adopted the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202). Such strong consensus recalled the commitment of each member State to pursue efforts to extend social protection systems, including social protection floors. This commitment is also at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Unemployment protection is a significant part of a comprehensive social protection system. As an example, Japan and Thailand, in the recent ILO- ASEAN Seminar on social protection to build resilience to disasters, highlighted unemployment insurance, as a measure to support those who were not able to continue working as an impact of the disaster.

Unemployment protection, through a combination of financial compensation for the loss of income, and active labour market policies, remain a paramount measure to mitigate the impact of economic recessions and to ensure smooth transition of the economies. Indeed such combination aims to increase employability and adaptability of workers as remedy to unemployment, poverty and inequality in line with decent work.

Each country in the world has a unique unemployment protection system. If one day, the Philippines established its unemployment protection scheme, it will also be unique. This is where social dialogue comes in. An informed tripartite dialogue involving the government, workers and employers and key partners is crucial in designing an unemployment protection system.

Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations need to understand well the labour market situation and existing laws and programmes aimed at supporting the unemployed. International labour standards, and in particular the Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988 (No. 168), are very useful resources to guide the design of the system.

The ILO constituents discussed for over 10 years the adoption of this Convention. It is not a surprise.Unemployment insurance schemes might be the branch of social security that requires the most dedicated social dialogue to finally reach a consensus among all parties.

Therefore, in the Philippines too, probably further social dialogue involving all relevant stakeholders not only at the national level but also at the sub-national and sectoral level is needed to enhance the environment for consensus building.

In this sense, I am grateful to UN ESCAP and NEDA to provide such a forum today for starting a social dialogue process, which will call for wider range and extensive consultations with workers, employers and governments in the coming months and years.

The ILO is ready to provide its technical expertise and knowledge that can support this national dialogue.

In particular, the ILO has recently developed a comprehensive guide that compiles experiences and lessons from ASEAN countries and beyond, as well as a range of tools and instruments that can guide the design of the unemployment protection system. Mr John Carter, with us today, is one of the authors of this guide.

From this, we hope to see recommendations that will feed into future dialogues towards extending social protection to all, including the unemployed and vulnerable workers. With the changing world of work, it is high time for all stakeholders to come together to deliver on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is to leave no one behind.

Again, thank you to UN ESCAP and NEDA and to each of you present today. I wish you all a productive and successful workshop!