The development of a framework to extend social security coverage to informal workers and economic sectors in Grenada is currently underway, thanks to a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, and government agencies including the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Grenada, the Ministry of Social and Community Development, Housing and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Labour and Consumer Affairs.
The process is supported by the Joint SDG Fund project “Resilient Caribbean: Engaging and training youth, strengthening integrated social protection sector delivery”, which is being implemented nationally by the ILO, along with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
During high-level discussions held between 31 May and 2 June 2023, ILO Caribbean team members Ms. Joana Borges-Henriques, Social Protection and Occupational Safety and Health Specialist and Ms. Kyana Bowen, National Project Coordinator provided an overview on project progress and planning to Senator the Honourable Claudette Joseph, Minister of Legal Affairs, Labour and Consumer Affairs as well as Ms. Anna Brizan, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry.
In subsequent meetings, the ILO team joined NIS Grenada and Ministry of Social and Community Development, Housing and Gender Affairs officials to determine the way forward through the design of a new action plan that will span until 2024. The discussions resulted in an agreement to prioritize two project activities: (i) promoting the incentive mechanism for businesses and workers in the informal economy to social partners and other key stakeholders to facilitate the access to social security coverage and (ii) reaching informal workers with a package of incentives that encourages their access to social security.
The mission was the next step taking into consideration the outcomes of a September 2022 ILO-hosted regional workshop ‘Extension of Social Security Coverage to the Informal Economy Workshop’ in Anguilla. Officials from NIS Grenada participated in this workshop, and later prepared a strategic action plan to achieve the extension of coverage of social security. The six-month plan identified specific activities under the project which entails the development of a communication strategy, understanding the challenges of the self-employed and informal workers and policy design as it relates to providing job matching services to the unemployed.
“The NIS Grenada is grateful for this collaboration with the ILO. By working together to develop and implement a mechanism that will extend social security to some of the country's most vulnerable workers and sectors, we can achieve a safety net should people be interrupted by sickness, an accident or even an unforeseen economic impact,” said Mr. Max Gordon, Manager of Finance at NIS Grenada.
Since then, the NIS Grenada has been working to attain the extension of coverage through activities that include the introduction of an unemployment benefit that covers employees and the self-employed; new legislation for the self-employed that provides them with flexibility on eligibility and the scheduling of their NIS contribution payments; and the design and operationalization of a new portal that provides easy digital access to services.
“Workers and businesses in the informal economy face multiple challenges and deprivations that affect their livelihoods, limit their advancement and increase their vulnerabilities to shocks. The ILO is pleased to partner with the Government of Grenada through support from the Joint SDG Fund to advance the inclusion of informal workers in the national social security scheme. The achievement is key to reducing the risks they face and encourages their transition to formal employment which will ultimately contribute to a more resilient workforce and business sector in Grenada,” explained Ms. Borges-Henriques.
The “Resilient Caribbean: Engaging and training youth, strengthening integrated social protection sector delivery” project, is a 24-month initiative being implemented across Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Participating United agencies include the ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO and the WFP. The project seeks to reduce vulnerabilities of households through the enhancement of social protection mechanisms; support worker access to social security and encourage their participation in formal employment; and empower youth to enter the labour market through access to entrepreneurship and skills development relevant to a just transition.
Originally published at ILO
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