NAVIGATING SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEMS: The Roles of Mekong Countries of Origin in Supporting Migrant Workers in Thailand and Japan

Today, national social security systems provide some of the most comprehensive social protection coverage. Often functioning as contributory schemes, social security systems are typically government programmes that provide individuals with financial support when faced with the contingencies of pregnancy, illness, accident, disability, survivorship, unemployment, and old age. International migrant workers are routinely excluded from the social security systems of destination countries or prevented from accessing their entitlements. Although eligible migrant workers are often a benefit to social security schemes as they make regular contributions, they tend to arrive in destination countries as young adults, and they often leave before retirement age, migrants are  generally unable to fully reap the fruits of their contributions. This is due to the nature of temporary labour migration programmes, limited access to accurate information, language barriers, and a lack of transferable benefits.

Since 2003, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN), a sub-regional network of civil society organisations (CSOs), has worked to promote the rights of migrants and their families from the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The research presented in this report builds on MMN’s previous research and advocacy efforts to advance the social protection of migrants by focusing on the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin. The present study assesses Mekong migrant workers’ access to the social security systems of destination countries and examines the ways in which countries of origin support migrants in this regard through the dissemination of information and assistance.

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