Pension for informal sector workers

Zimbabweans working in the informal sector will get pension cover under a scheme being drawn up by the National Social Security Authority for implementation later this year.

Under the scheme, which is anticipated to provide universal social security cover, people who are not formally employed would make voluntary contributions to NSSA so as to get benefits upon reaching the public sector retirement age of 60.

In the case of death, surviving spouses and close relatives could also benefit.

The new scheme is expected to tap into the massive number of Zimbabweans working in the informal sector.

According to the ZimStat 2014 Labour Force Survey, 94.5 percent of the active labour force is in the informal sector, meaning current social security coverage excludes a significant proportion of the population.

And according to the 2012 Population Census, 67 percent of this population was economically active.

Unlike the current scheme for the formally employed where employers and employees make ratio-based contributions to NSSA, the new scheme will be financed by contributors alone.

Responding to questions from The Sunday Mail, NSSA board chairman Mr Robin Vela said the scheme would be structured on findings of a recent survey on priority social security needs of informal workers.

He said: “We will shortly be contracting our actuaries to model the scheme, which will include benefits design. However, we envisage that it will include retirement and survivors benefits.”

Mr Vela said while the formal sector scheme was compulsory, the informal one would be voluntary.

“Employer and employee make equal contributions under the formal sector scheme while the proposed informal sector scheme will be financed by contributors only.

“There will be inbuilt flexibility on contributions payment under the informal sector scheme, depending on member’s circumstances.

“The scheme is targeting all workers in the informal sector including domestic workers. The reason is that currently workers in the informal sector are not covered by social security schemes, yet social security is a human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 22, 1948).

“Also, 94.5 percent of all workers are in the informal sector. This means that currently the majority of the workers and their families are not covered by social security, hence the imperative need to extend social security coverage to them. Furthermore, our survey concluded that people in the informal sector have special social security needs.”

Mr Vela said after actuaries drew up a proposed model, NSSA would consult the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, and SMEs and Co-operatives Development ministries, among other stakeholders.

Ghana and Uganda offer pension cover to informal workers, with the latter last year issuing licenses to two private firms to extend social security benefits to those not formally employed.

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