Experts urge social security benefits for all workers

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(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Experts urged the Social Security Corporation (SSC) to make extensive efforts for developing a comprehensive social protection system, inclusive of all workers to provide them with benefits and social insurance on equal basis.اضافة اعلان

Their call followed an SSC announcement that its Estidama++ program will be launched soon, setting the stage for establishments and the self-employed to submit applications for benefits through the program.

 Beneficiaries include establishments operating in the agricultural sector, and micro, small, and medium enterprises which employ 10 workers or less, regardless of their nationality, as well as self-employed individuals, whether Jordanians or non-Jordanians, in the tourism and transportation sectors.

The SSC announced that its original Estidama program, which provided assistance to workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, will expire at the end of June. The corporation and the International Labor Organization (ILO) signed an agreement on May 24, paving the way for the emergence of the new initiative, entitled Estidama++ Fund.

The corporation said the fund will promote formalization in the most vulnerable sectors in the Jordanian economy by providing income support and subsidizing contributions of Jordanian and non-Jordanian workers, including refugees, to encourage their participation in the SSC. It said the first phase will be implemented over 18 months and it is expected to benefit 13,000 workers in key sectors.

Mazen Al-Maaytah, head of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, stressed the importance of the Estidama++ program in supporting the labor sector, especially those working in the informal economy sectors.

He said the program provides data on workers in small and micro economic enterprises, which contributes to the transition to an organized economy.

Maaytah maintained that violation of workers’ rights is increasing in the unorganized labor sector, which requires strict measures to protect workers.

He said that the program differs from previous ones introduced by the SSC during the COVID-19 pandemic because “this one allows the self-employed workers to benefit from it”.

Maaytah pointed out that the “SSC has a great responsibility towards developing the social protection system to include all segment of workers, and to provide them with the benefits and social insurance provided by the Social Security Law.”

He noted that the participation in social security is a right for the worker, whether those in the organized or the unorganized economy. “It is one of the decent work standards guaranteed by domestic legislation and the ILO’s conventions,” he explained.

Mousa Al-Subaihi, an insurance and social protection expert, said Estidama++ must expand the base of those covered by the SSC “by including groups that suffer greatly from the low level of regulation, some of which are included in the informal labor sector and the informal economy”.

He emphasized that “it should extend to wider sectors of agricultural holdings and transportation, and include self-employed workers in other sectors such as trade, stall sellers, street vendors, workers in various professions and services, in addition to the workers of the construction sector.”

Head of the Jordanian Workers’ House Hamada Abu Nijmeh said that “Estidama++ aims at “improving the situation of the most vulnerable workers in Jordan by expanding their coverage with social security, and facilitating their access to income support by registering them with the SSC.”

He said that the stated goal “is important, but the lesson is how would it be implemented”.

“It is important that the worker would not be bogged down by any additional burdens at a time when the pandemic exhausted him financially,” he said. “Also, the right of a worker to access a comprehensive insurance shall not be prejudiced.”

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