Social Protection

Migrant workers from countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) remain insufficiently protected in terms of their life cycle needs. Impediments accessing social protection schemes, as well as the cross-border nature of migration, result in migrant workers being routinely excluded from financial protection mechanisms or denied access to entitlements. 

Rather than being a drain on social protection programmes, migrants are, more often than not, a net benefit to the public purse. Arriving in destination countries as adults and often leaving before retirement age, migrants tend, on average, to be fitter, younger and more likely to be in full-time employment than their native-born peers. What is more, the trend towards migration policies based on temporary residence makes it more difficult for migrants to ever see the fruits of their contributions.

A construction worker in Hanoi, Vietnam

MMN believes governments of destination countries and countries of origin both have a role to play in developing inclusive policies relating to social protection. Access to various forms of benefits and entitlements should be facilitated, while any barriers migrants may face when accessing social protection must be removed. Governments also need to ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place so that migrants and their families do not incur any loss of rights and benefits throughout the migration cycle.

To enhance migrants’ access to social protection programmes when they are abroad and upon returning home, MMN has conducted several pieces of research on existing social protection programmes, including healthcare and social security systems, and sought to understand the difficulties migrants face when accessing their entitlements. These findings were presented to various stakeholders in destination countries and countries of origin in an effort to inform responsible actors of areas in need of improvements, and ultimately to catalyse changes in relevant policies to shape a more inclusive social protection framework in the GMS.

Related Initiatives

Further Reading

Social Protection Programmes in Countries of Origin

Read about existing social security systems applicable to migrants in countries of origin in the region.

Social Protection Applicable to Migrants in Destination Countries

Read about the various types of social protection programmes that are applicable to migrant workers in Thailand, Japan, and Singapore.

Healthcare for Migrants Living with HIV/AIDS in the GMS

Read this policy brief published in 2016 on the state of health care for migrants living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Mekong Subregion.