Informal workers lack knowledge about employment, insurance

Seven out of every ten informal workers did not know about employment policies and more than 40 percent of freelance workers had never heard about voluntary social insurance, according to a survey of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).



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The outcomes of the survey, which covered Hanoi and the central province of Nghe An, were revealed at a workshop on October 6.



Of those did know about voluntary social insurance, most learned from local authorities (32.3 percent), friends or acquaintances (18.3 percent). Few were informed by insurance agencies (8.1 percent).

Voluntary social insurance regulations took effect in Vietnam in January 2008, aiming to provide insurance for informal sector workers, mainly farmers and rural employees.

However, only 237,000 people have bought voluntary social insurance in the last 10 years, and few of them are workers in the informal sector for whom the safety net was designed.

Besides, most voluntary social insurance participants formerly had compulsory social insurance and they shifted to voluntary as they were unable to continue to use compulsory social insurance for various reasons.

Trinh Thu Nga, director of the Centre for Population, Labour and Employment Study under ILSSA blamed poor communication for the low rate of voluntary social insurance uptake.

People did not know about it, did not understand it, and thus did not join, Nga said.

She added that labourers are willing to pay about 400,000 VND a month for insurance, or 7.1 percent of their average income.

So the voluntary insurance fee of 154,000 VND per month is not an issue, according to Nga.

She also pointed out that voluntary social insurance participants complained that they have fewer benefits compared to those covered by compulsory insurance.

The voluntary social insurance only covers pensions and survivor benefits, while compulsory packages provide protection for a wide range of scenarios, including accident and sickness benefits.

At the workshop, the ILO recommended that communication should be tailored to target groups for voluntary social insurance.

Vietnam should consider adding more benefits to voluntary social insurance participants as well as reducing the number of years paying insurance fees to at least 15 years (the current requirement is at least 20 years), it also said.

The country aims to have half its workforce covered by social insurance by 2020. By the middle of this year, about 13.1 million people had compulsory and voluntary social insurance, accounting for 24.5 percent of the workforce. 

VNA

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