Social Security for Informal Workers: One of the Key Issues in the Thailand Reform Process (28/02/2011)
The Government is proceeding with its plan to ensure social security for workers in the informal sector, which is one of the key issues in the Thailand reform process.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva chaired a video conference on February 25 to follow up on social security for the informal sector in Songkhla, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Phrae, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Pathom, and Chon Buri provinces. The intent of the conference was to listen to problems and obstacles from local people concerning the social security system for self-employed people and freelance workers.

The Prime Minister told the video conference that the Government attaches special importance to its policy of social security for informal workers, which will be implemented on May 1 this year, coinciding with National Labor Day. The Cabinet on 18 January 2011 gave the green light to the criteria for the social security fund benefits and contribution rates for workers in the informal sector. He believed that the country’s social security system would be sustainable when all people involved took part in management and when workers of different groups were entitled to benefits in various cases, such as sickness and retirement.

The Prime Minister said that, in joining the Social Security Fund, informal workers would be offered two options. In the first option, they will contribute 70 baht a month and the Government will contribute 30 baht. In this option, they will be entitled to three types of compensation, covering sickness, disability, and death. In the second option, informal workers will contribute 100 baht a month and the Government will contribute 50 baht. Under this option, they will receive a pension benefit, along with the entitlements for sickness, disability, and death.

The Ministry of Labor expects that around 2.4 million informal workers will join the social security system in 2011. Out of this number, 600,000 workers are in Bangkok and 120,000 in Bangkok’s vicinity, while 1.68 million are in other provinces.

The Government will set up social security offices for informal workers in various areas of the country. For instance, one office will be responsible for informal workers in a few districts. Included among informal workers are vendors and hawkers, taxi drivers, and motorcycle taxi drivers. From now until May 1, when the social security scheme for informal workers will be launched, officials involved have been urged to step up public relations campaigns so that people would have better understanding of the project, which is part of Thailand reform.

The Government intends to complete the social security system by 2016, as the country moves toward becoming a “social welfare” state by 2017.

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