Facilitating access and simplifying administrative procedures
Many workers in the informal economy face difficulties regarding administrative procedures in social protection schemes, including registration, and may find themselves unprotected, even if covered by the legislation. While employees in formal employment can rely on employers to register them with the social security institution and pay contributions on their behalf, most workers in the informal economy do not benefit from this intermediary role of an employer.
This module identifies administrative barriers that all or different groups of workers in the informal economy can face, and discusses possible solutions for overcoming administrative barriers.
- What are the administrative barriers that workers and employers in the informal economy face regarding registration and other administrative procedures?
- How can access to and registration in social security systems be facilitated for both employers and workers in the informal economy?
- How can administrative procedures be adapted to the needs and circumstances of workers and employers in the informal economy, such as through facilitating access and simplification of procedures?
- Lack of information and awareness: Remoteness or isolation of the workplace and home, illiteracy and/or a low degree of organization can cause a lack of information regarding the right to social protection, as well as on how to access them.
- Geographical barriers to access social security offices: Long distances, particularly in rural and remote areas, to the social security offices, lack of affordable transport facilities to the next office and high opportunity costs can make registration and information particularly difficult and costly.
- Complex registration procedures can be particularly challenging for workers and employers in the informal economy, particularly for those who cannot read or write (illiteracy), or if documents are not available in the language spoken by the applicant. In addition, the requirement to provide supporting documents can become a hurdle where these documents do not exist or are difficult and/or expensive to obtain.
- Opportunity cost and costs of compliance: The indirect cost associated with administrative procedures, such as transportation costs and foregone earnings (opportunity costs) during the time spent on administrative processes can hinder workers and employers from registering to social protection schemes.
- Raising awareness and disseminating information through different channels, adapted to the specific needs and situation of the workers and employers.
- Actively reaching out to individuals, communities and employers.
- Involving employers’ and workers’ organizations.
- Report by World Solidarity: Facilitating the access to social security through a workers' organization in the Dominican Republic
- Mobile social protection registration campaign targeting the construction sector in Zambia (video)
- ISSA good practices: Involving community members as intermediaries in Indonesia
Facilitating access to administrative procedures
- Facilitating access to information on administrative procedures.
- Expanding physical access points by increasing the number of local offices, implementing mobile offices and setting up self-service terminals.
- Introducing mobile, online and other remote access points, including telephone helplines, mobile phone services, online platforms and other electronic services, provided that there is internet access.
- Collective registration or insurance agreements.
- ISSA good practices: Community engagement officers and mobile service centres in Australia
- ISSA good practices: Digital mobile application in Vietnam
- ILO country brief: Reaching out to rural poor through mobile service units in South Africa
- ISSA good practices: Simplified online registration system for domestic workers in Argentina
- ISSA good practices: Spain's social security e-portal
- ILO brief: Mobilizing cooperatives to enhance access to social protection
Simplifying procedures and improving services
- Reducing the need for supporting documents and simplifying other procedures.
- Facilitating portability of rights and benefits, accounting for labour market mobility.
- Improving the exchange of information between different institutions, such as through unified social insurance numbers stored in a central database.
- Setting up integrated services, such as single-window services or one stop shops.
- Removing administrative barriers is key to enhancing the coverage of workers and employers in the informal economy. Much can be done within current legal frameworks and budgets, yet some measures may require additional efforts in adapting laws, regulations and in strengthening administrative capacities.
- Reaching out to workers in the informal economy and facilitating access to registration and other administrative procedures can help to enhance social protection coverage. Measures can include expanding physical access points, using mobile technology and digital services, coordinated IT solutions and single window services.
- Simplifying procedures can further help expand coverage, namely through making information more accessible, reducing the need for supporting documents, facilitating registration through collective registration agreements and accounting for labour market mobility.
- Administrative procedures should be made as accessible, comprehensible, simple and efficient as possible. Outreach and registration campaigns can help to raise awareness and facilitate access to schemes, yet they need to be accompanied by a broader set of measures to remove administrative barriers for workers and employers in the informal economy.
- ILO World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Social protection at the crossroads
- ISSA Guide on Administrative Solutions for Coverage Extension
- ISSA Handbook on the extension of social security coverage to the self-employed
- RNSF publication on Extending Coverage: Social Protection and the Informal Economy (esp. Chapt. 3)