Building a Social Protection Floor (SPF) in India

The project aims to enable ILO’s tripartite partners to develop policies to expand or reorient the existing social security provisions and schemes to benefit more people.

Project description

The joint UN pilot project, funded by the Government of Norway, is under implementation in Odisha. It aims to enable stakeholders, including government, workers’ organizations and employers’ organizations, civil society and community-based organizations (CBOs), to develop policy options that will expand (or reorient) the existing social security provisions and schemes to impact more beneficiaries. Among these will be workers and vulnerable groups. Underlying this initiative are the principles of the Social Protection Floor, as specified in the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), and its two-dimensional strategy. The expected outcome is the establishment of the Social Protection Floor framework in the State.

The Project’s support to the stakeholders for enhancing access to the social security schemes is provided through: evidence-based knowledge building, information campaign, capacity building, facilitation of dialogue for consensus on Social Protection Floor elements, social security coverage expansion and access processes.

Background and rationale

Social protection can be understood as a set of public actions which address not only income poverty and economic shocks, but also social vulnerability, thus taking into account the inter-relationship between exclusion and poverty. Through income or in-kind support and programmes designed to increase access to services (such as health, education and nutrition), social protection helps realize the human rights of children and families.

In recent years, social protection has emerged as a major area of policy development. Keeping this in mind the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted a new labour standard, the Recommendation concerning national floors of social protection (No.202) in 2012. This Recommendation assists member States in covering the unprotected, the poor and the most vulnerable, including workers in the informal economy and their families.

The Government of India has put in place a number of social security measures, such as the Employees Provident Fund Oganization, Employees State Insurance Corporation, Maternity Benefit Scheme, and the Minimum Wages Act. These provide varying degrees of coverage, primarily to cover formal workers in the organized sector. They address several aspects covered by the ILO Convention on Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention 1952 (No. 102). Some of the recent announcements by the Government of India are to be positive steps towards universal coverage of social security provisions though targeted to benefits mainly for the unorganised workers and other vulnerable groups. These include in particular the three-tier social security contributory schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana.

The United Nations Development Action Framework (UNDAF) 2012-17, signed between the UN system and the erstwhile Planning Commission in India, identified the formulation of the Social Protection Floor as an essential component of poverty elimination, equity and inclusive growth. The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand were identified as pilot states for establishing the institutional framework for the Social Protection Floor – with the idea that it would be replicated and scaled up at the national level. The state level consultation and discussions further helped in firming up the essential design of the Social Protection Floor Project at the state level in Odisha.

Odisha runs over 50 Social Security schemes, along with the national schemes. In an effort to expand access, the State has customized these schemes according to the local conditions. For instance, along with the National Pension Scheme and Indira Awas Yojna, the state runs Madhu Babu Pension Yojna and Mo Kudia Yojna to enhance coverage and access. With technical assistance under the Project, it is expected that more effective coordination and convergence mechanism among the departments, as well as other stakeholders, would be established to develop suitable policy options, enhanced coverage and better access to such schemes.

Project Strategy

The Project supports the constituents and stakeholders through a multipronged strategy involving:
  • Awareness raising/advocacy campaigns;
  • Assistance in the establishment of the institutional framework(s) for policy development and coordination; and
  • Strengthening the capacity of the constituents in the formulation of policy options for gender equitable policy options to support establishment of Social Protection Floor at the state as well as the national level. The project will utilize South-South cooperation for knowledge and information sharing.


A state-based mapping study for Odisha was undertaken to enhance the knowledge-base and for better use of information on the existing social security schemes in the State. The objective of the study is to identify the extent of Social Protection Floor components already in place and the priority areas for intervention and to capture the success and challenges in the State’s social protection architecture.

Reaffirming its commitment to expanding social security, the Government of Odisha has approved the Resolution of Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (OBOCWWB) on undertaking of collaboration with ILO to expand and provide social security services to the building and other construction workers, including migrant workers of the unorganized sector. The collaboration between the Workers’ Welfare Board and the ILO will help in ensuring coverage and benefits to the second largest work force in the informal sector in the State. The direct beneficiaries to be covered are estimated around 3 million, while indirect beneficiaries are almost 10 million.

This move paves the way for the creation of an enabling framework on expanding the social security coverage in the State. Working towards the partnership, a series of activities, including awareness-cum-convergence workshops, have been planned that are to be jointly organized by the State Government and ILO.

The outcomes of this pilot initiative will also contribute to replication of policy options and strategies in other states as well as the establishment of the floor at the national level. In this direction, the ILO recently received a positive response from the Government of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, to provide technical support to develop strategies to design/extend social security schemes/benefits for selected vulnerable groups to enable the Government to move towards establishing the Social Protection Floor at the state level.

Geographic Coverage

India: Odisha

Key Stakeholders/Focus Group

  • Workers (men and women) and their families
  • Government of Odisha
  • Central trade unions and their representatives in the State of Odisha
  • Employers’ organizations
  • Civil society organizations
  • Community - based organizations (CBOs)
  • Media
  • Research and training institutes/organizations

For further information please contact:

Mr. Ranjit Prakash, National Project Coordinator, Email
ILO, DWT/CO-New Delhi