Social Protection Programmes in Countries of Origin
The following articles draw from the report Social Protection Across Borders: Roles of Mekong Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants’ Rights, which examines the role of Mekong countries of origin in improving migrant workers’ accesses to social protection programmes both at home and when abroad. As part of the study, MMN conducted research on the social protection programmes available in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam – three major countries of origin in the Greater Mekong Subregion – and detailed the implications of these programmes for migrant workers. To understand more about the collaborative research project, please visit the main webpage of the Roles of Countries of Origin project.
The information below was last updated in September 2019.
The National Social Protection Policy Framework (NSSPF) 2016-2025, adopted in 2017, acknowledged that the coverage of Cambodia’s social protection programmes remains limited, which leaves certain groups of the population without protection.  Social protection programmes in Cambodia are currently in the developing stages, with schemes, such as health care (2016), only being established in recent years. In general, the NSSPF categorises current and future social protection programmes into two main entities: social assistance and social security. Social assistance predominantly targets those below or close to the poverty line with high vulnerability to crisis, infants, children, pregnant women, food-insecure residents, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Social assistance programmes facilitate access to emergency response, vocational training, human capital development, and welfare provision for low-income families.
Different Cambodian departments are in charge of the implementation of social assistance provisions. The World Food Program assists with the implementation of a School Feeding Breakfast Program and also works with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in providing funding for primary school scholarships. The Ministry of Economy and Finance works with the National Committee for Disaster Management in providing food supplies during disaster crises, and the MOLVT oversees various skills training programmes.
Under the NSSPF, social security is envisioned as an overarching protection mechanism for Cambodian residents, with five available schemes including pension, work injury, health care, disability services, and unemployment. The NSSF, which is “technically under the MOLVT and financially under the Ministry of Economy and Finance”, is the governing body responsible for implementing social security schemes for persons under the provisions of the labour law. Among its tasks, the NSSF’s responsibilities include managing social security schemes established under the 2002 Law on the Social Security Schemes for Persons Defined by the provisions of the Labour Law (hereafter “Law on Social Security Schemes”), collecting contributions from members and employers and making health care and social services available to its members.
Implications of Social Security Schemes on Migrant Workers
There are currently no social security schemes available to outbound Cambodian migrant workers. The Law on the Social Security Schemes covers workers under the scope of the labour law (not including those who are governed by the Common Statute for Civil Servants or by the Diplomatic Statute as well as officials who are temporarily appointed in the public service) and who “perform work in the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia for the benefit of an employer or employers”. Under this requirement, outbound migrant workers are not eligible to participate in social security schemes established under the law. The Law on Social Security Schemes creates two schemes–the work injury scheme and the pension scheme. The work injury scheme was created in 2008  and provides benefits for injuries sustained at work and during the commute to work, disabilities and occupational diseases. Employers pay the full contribution at 0.8% of the worker’s monthly salary. As of the end of 2015, 1.2 million Cambodian workers have joined the scheme. (According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s labour force in 2015 reached 8.6 million.) In August 2019, a new law reportedly implemented the pension scheme. According to the Law on Social Security Schemes, the pension should include old age, invalidity and survivors’ benefits.
In addition to the work injury and pension scheme, the Cambodian government created a health care scheme in 2016. The scheme provides coverage for those under the provision of the Law on Social Security Schemes. In 2017, the Cambodian government also expanded coverage to informal workers defined as a “worker [who] signs an employment contract, which is not more than 8 (eight) hours a week, a part-time work, a casual work, or a seasonal work, and has been registered in the National Social Security Fund.” The health care scheme provides medical care for non-occupational injuries and sickness and cash benefits for sickness and maternity. Beginning in January 2018, employers have to pay the full contribution, at 2.6% of the worker’s monthly wage.
While the pension, work injury and health care schemes are currently not available to migrant workers, existing government policies create possibilities for outbound Cambodian migrant workers to access these schemes. For instance, the draft Policy on Labour Migration for Cambodia 2019-2023 plans to open up the NSSF membership to all migrant workers. Under the NSSPF, the Cambodian government also plans to establish a universal pension scheme for all Cambodian citizens  and enable voluntary participation in the pension scheme for those who currently fall out of the scope of the Law on Social Security Schemes. Regarding the healthcare scheme, the NSSPF contemplates expanding membership of the scheme beyond persons under the provisions of the labour law.
In terms of disability services, the Disability Action Council is tasked with setting up the national strategy for people with disabilities regardless of the source or type, and the People with Disability Fund (PWDF) delivers rehabilitation, vocational training, and employment services to about 28,000 people annually. PWDF’s website mentions that its services are open to any disabled Cambodian citizen regardless of occupation status, which may benefit migrant returnees who suffer from disabilities sustained from work abroad. In general, disability services are authorised by the Law on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2009), which states that the State should allocate an annual budget to the elderly, the very impoverished, and the severely disabled.
In August 2019, a new law with unemployment benefits has reportedly been passed. The NSSPF envisions that such a scheme will be applied to workers under the provisions of the labour law, but first Cambodia intends to conduct a feasibility study that will involve “considerable time and capacity” and will depend on the country’s “economic development” before they plan on putting an unemployment insurance scheme in place.
Migrant Welfare Fund and Portability of Social Security Benefits
Under the draft Policy on Labour Migration for Cambodia 2019-2023, the Cambodian Government plans to roll out a pilot migrant welfare fund in select provinces with a high outbound migration rate. There are also plans to hold dialogues with destination countries to discuss the portability of social protection benefits, and create an annex for the MOU with Thailand and Malaysia that ensures the portability of social protection benefits from the two destination countries to Cambodia.
 Council of Ministers, Kingdom of Cambodia, “National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025”, 24 March 2017, p. xvi, accessible at http://inndec.com/library/docs/SPPF%20English%20-%20Final%20Ver.pdf.
 Ibid., p. 12.
 Ibid., p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 12.
 Ibid., p. 16.
 Sub-decree concerning the Establishment of the National Social Security Fund, 2007, Article 1, unofficial translation accessible at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Sub-Decree-16.pdf.
 Ibid., Article 3.
 MMN Key Informant Interview with a representative of the DOEM under the MOLVT (July 2019).
 Royal Kram concerning the Law on Social Security Schemes for Persons Defined by the Provisions of the Labour Law, 2002, Article 4, unofficial translation accessible at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NSSF-Law.pdf.
 Ibid., Article 4.
 See the webpage of the National Social Security Fund, the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia website entitled, “Employment Injury Scheme”, accessible at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/employment-injury-scheme-2/.
 Royal Kram concerning the Law on Social Security Schemes for Persons Defined by the Provisions of the Labour Law, Article 15, above.
 Prakas 449 On Determination of Contribution Rate and Formalities and Procedures of Contribution Payment for Social Security Schemes on Occupational Risk and Health Care for Persons Defined by the Provisions of the Labour Law, 2017, Article 4, unofficial translation accessible at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/prkas-449.pdf.
 Council of Ministers, Kingdom of Cambodia, “National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025”, p. 34.
 See the webpage of the World Bank website entitled, “Labour Force, Total (Cambodia)”, accessible at https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.TOTL.IN?locations=KH.
 Ry Sochan, “Breaking: Council of Ministers passes NSSF draft law”, Phnom Penh Post, 4 August 2019, accessible at https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/breaking-council-ministers-passes-nssf-draft-law.
 Royal Kram concerning the Law on Social Security Schemes for Persons Defined by the Provisions of the Labour Law, 2002, Article 7.
 See Sub-decree On Establishment of Social Security Scheme “Health Care Scheme” For Persons Defined by the Provisions of the Labor law The Royal Government, 2016, unofficial translation accessible at https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/103419/125607/F-1229514826/KHM103419%20Eng.pdf.
 Ibid., Article 7.
 Prakas 404 on Implementation of Health Care Scheme Through Health Equity Fund System For Informal Workers and Provision of Additional Allowance for Female Workers When Delivery, 2017, Article 4, unofficial translation available at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/404.17.pdf.
 Prakas 184 on Revision of Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, And 10 of Prakas No. 109 Lv/prk., Dated 17 March 2016, On Health Care Benefits, 2018, Article 7, unofficial translation accessible at http://www.nssf.gov.kh/default/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/404.17.pdf.
 Prakas 449, Article 4.
 The Royal Government of the Kingdom Cambodia, “Draft Policy on Labour Migration for Cambodia 2019-2023 (Unofficial Translation)”, p. 41 (Policy Goal 11.2).
 Council of Ministers, Kingdom of Cambodia, “National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025”, p.23.
 Ibid., p. 24.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 Ibid., p. 37.
 See the webpage of the Persons with Disabilities Foundation website entitled,“PRC’s Services”, 2016, accessible at http://pwdf.gov.kh/index.php/en/ourservices/prcservice.
 Law on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2009, Article 12, unofficial translation accessible at https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/86089/96925/F217191771/KHM86089%20English.pdf.
 Ry Sochan, “Breaking: Council of Ministers passes NSSF draft law”.
 Council of Ministers, Kingdom of Cambodia, “National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025”, p.35.
 Ibid., p.36.
 The Royal Government of the Kingdom Cambodia, “Draft Policy on Labour Migration for Cambodia 2019-2023”, p.41 (Policy Goal 11.1).
 Ibid., p.41 (Policy Goal 11.2).
 Ibid., p.35 (Policy Goal 3.5).
Overall Social Protection Framework
The Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan, published in 2014, acknowledges that existing social protection programmes in the country remain limited. Currently, Myanmar’s social protection framework encompasses a number of social services and contributory and non-contributory cash benefit programmes that are available to different sections of the population. These programmes include cash benefits to mothers who have multiple births with three or more new-borns, cash support to all primary school children, social security for civil servants and formal workers that provides cash benefits for sickness, maternity, paternity, temporary or permanent disability, disasters and funerals, a non-contributory pension for civil or political service, a forthcoming contributory social security old-age pension scheme, and programmes that provide relief and recovery assistance during times of disaster.
The strategic plan outlines eight further “flagship programmes” to implement in the future, namely (1) cash allowances for pregnant women and children up to age two; (2) gradual extension of this to older children; (3) cash allowance for people with disabilities; (4) school feeding programmes; (5) public employment and vocational education programmes; (6) social pension; (7) older person self-help groups; and (8) integrated social protection services. Among Myanmar’s long-term goals, the government also hopes to provide universal health coverage by 2030. Currently, a cash allowance for expectant mothers and children is being piloted in Kayah and Kayin states and will gradually expand to other regions. An old age pension for senior citizens was made available to those over the age of 85 from 2018.
The Social Protection Working Committee is responsible for the overall monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of Myanmar’s social protection programmes. The Committee is chaired by the Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and consists of representatives of government ministries, such as MOLIP, as well as non-governmental organisations. The Technical Support Group provides technical advice to the Committee and has identified the said flagship programmes to expand Myanmar’s social protection programmes. Social Security Systems established under the 2012 Social Security Law, in particular, are under the purview of the Social Security Board of the MOLIP. The Social Security Board (SSB) Executive Committee consists of officials from the MOLIP and other government organisations, as well as employer and worker representatives. As of 2015, the SSB has established 77 township offices to cover about 30% of Myanmar’s existing townships within all States and regions except Chin State.
Social Security System in Myanmar and Implications for Migrant Workers
The Social Security Law 2012 makes it possible for migrant workers to participate in Myanmar’s social security on a voluntary basis. The law establishes six social security systems, of which only three are active: the Health and Social Care System, which provides medical care and cash benefits for sickness, maternity, paternity and funerals; Family Support Insurance System and the Employment Injury Benefit System, which provides cash benefits for injuries and deaths resulting from work. The other social security systems, such as the unemployment benefit system and the Invalidity, Superannuation and Survivors’ Benefit System, have not been implemented.
Registration is compulsory for establishments, subject to exceptions, with five or more workers. Under the Health and Social Care System, both employer and employee each contribute 2% of the employee’s monthly wage if they are under 60, and 2.5% if over 60. For the Employment Injury Benefit System, the employer pays 1-1.5% of the employee’s monthly wage, depending on the number of employees who are receiving benefits under the system. The Social Security Law 2012 stipulates that employees who do not work in establishments covered by the law may register on a voluntary basis, including “persons who are working abroad.” Voluntary registration is currently available for migrant workers. Family members in Myanmar can help migrant workers enrol in the system and make contributions on migrants’ behalf. The Social Security Law does not specify the amount of contribution for voluntary registration, but separate Social Security Rules published in 2014 mentions that already insured persons at a private establishment may continue to be voluntarily insured after leaving the establishment, provided that they declare a wage that is not less than the minimum wage and pay for both the employee and the employer’s parts of the contribution. Any insured persons may also pay in a foreign currency if they earn wages in that foreign currency.
The Social Security Law or the Social Security Rules contain no provisions for the portability of social security benefits. In fact, the Social Security Law 2012 states that the Social Security Board may terminate sickness cash benefits if the insured person “leaves the country for good”. A different part of the law also states that an insured person will lose unemployment benefits if the person is leaving the country “for good” or going abroad to work.
The Social Security Rules also states that an insured person is “temporarily suspended from the application of the provisions of the Law” if the person fails to pay contributions for 36 months consecutively. However, if contributions are repaid after the person enters an establishment covered by the law or registers voluntarily, the person “shall have the right to join with the contribution terms paid in the past”. In theory, therefore, migrants who cease to pay contributions for more than 36 months may resume their membership in Myanmar’s social security if they pay contributions again.
The Government of the Republic Union of Myanmar, “Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan”, December 2014, p. 33, accessible at https://www.social-protection.org/gimi/gess/RessourcePDF.action?ressource.ressourceId=50377.
 Ibid., p. 35.
 Ibid., p. 38.
 Ibid., p. 39.
 Ibid., p. 40.
 Ibid., pp. 41-42.
 Ibid., p. 49.
 Ibid., p. 67.
 Myat Thura, “More Aid in the Works for Expectant Mothers”, Myanmar Times, 11 June 2019, accessible at https://www.mmtimes.com/news/more-aid-works-expectant-mothers.html.
 Htike Nanda Win, “Government to Lower Eligibility Age for Pension Payments to 85”, Myanmar Times, 22 May 2018, accessible at https://www.mmtimes.com/news/government-lower-eligibility-age-pension-payments-85.html.
 The Government of the Republic Union of Myanmar, “Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan”, p. 47.
 Ibid., pp. 45-46.
 Ibid., p. 48.
 Ibid., p. 61.
 ILO, “Evaluation of the operations of the Social Security Board, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Myanmar”, 2015, p. 3, accessible at https://www.social-protection.org/gimi/gess/RessourcePDF.action?ressource.ressourceId=52057.
 The Government of the Republic Union of Myanmar, “Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan”, p. 61.
 ILO, “Social Protection for Migrant Workers in ASEAN: Developments, Challenges, and Prospects”, p. 64.
 Exceptions contained in Social Security Law (2012), Article 12a, accessible at https://www.mol.gov.mm/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Social-Security-Law-2012-E.pdf.
 ILO, “ILO Guide to Myanmar Labour Law”, 2017, p. 25, accessible at https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—asia/—ro-bangkok/—ilo-yangon/documents/publication/wcms_577563.pdf.
 Social Security Rules (2014), Article 55, accessible at http://www.mol.gov.mm/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/The-Social-Security-Rules-E.pdf.
 Ibid., Article 58.
 Social Security Law (2012), Article 20(c).
 MMN Key Informant Interview with a representative of the MOLIP.
 Social Security Rules (2014), Article 50(b).
 Social Security Law (2012), Article 100.
 Ibid., Article 254(f).
 Ibid., Article 40(e).
 Social Security Rules (2014), Article 53(a).
 Ibid., Article 53(b).
Aiming to better understand the experiences of migrant workers in destination countries and build knowledge on the migration governance policies and systems concerning migrants from the GMS, MMN conducted country visits to Singapore and Japan. In November 2018, MMN and representatives of Future Light Centre, Myanmar, and Foundation for Education and Development, Thailand, visited Singapore to meet with Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a migrant-support organisation Singapore, to discuss the challenges faced by domestic workers from Myanmar. TWC2 coordinated a visit to a Myanmar migrant community in Singapore, during which MMN members had the opportunity to learn about migrants’ conditions and gather opinions on what roles the Myanmar government should play in supporting their nationals abroad, please read the website report.
In July 2019, MMN visited Tokyo, Japan, and had separate meetings with the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, Vietnam Mutual Aid Association in Japan, and the Federation of Workers’ Union of the Burmese Citizen in Japan, and paid a home visit to Cambodian migrant workers to deepen their understanding of the Technical Internship Training Program and migrants’ conditions under the programme. These meetings provided valuable opportunities for the MMN research team to meet stakeholders and exchange and update information on the deployment of migrant workers to Japan. To learn more about the country visit to Japan, please read the website report.