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22 - Social protection

GCM Objectives
22 - Social protection

Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is based on 23 objectives. This page provides resources for objective 22 (Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits):

“38. We commit to assist migrant workers at all skills levels to have access to social protection in countries of destination and profit from the portability of applicable social security entitlements and earned benefits in their countries of origin or when they decide to take up work in another country.


To realize this commitment, we will draw from the following actions:

(a) Establish or maintain non-discriminatory national social protection systems, including social protection floors for nationals and migrants, in line with the ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors;

(b) Conclude reciprocal bilateral, regional or multilateral social security agreements on the portability of earned benefits for migrant workers at all skills levels, which refer to applicable social protection floors in the respective States, applicable social security entitlements and provisions, such as pensions, healthcare or other earned benefits, or integrate such provisions into other relevant agreements, such as those on long-term and temporary labour migration;

(c) Integrate provisions on the portability of entitlements and earned benefits into national social security frameworks, designate focal points in countries of origin, transit and destination that facilitate portability requests from migrants, address the difficulties women and older persons can face in accessing social protection, and establish dedicated instruments, such as migrant welfare funds in countries of origin that support migrant workers and their families.’’

(GCM, 2018: para. 38)

It is widely recognized that migrant workers are major contributors to social and economic development. However, they face specific challenges in accessing social protection, including health care and income security, be it because of their status or nationality or due to the insufficient duration of their periods of employment and residence. In addition, the lack of bilateral or multilateral agreements may prevent migrant workers from maintaining their earned benefits and benefits in the course of acquisition, particularly long-term benefits (invalidity, old-age and survivor’s).

The inclusion of migrant workers in national social protection responses is in line with international human rights and international labour standards (the GCM makes explicit reference to the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation No 202) and is based on the principles of equality of treatment and non-discrimination.

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) offers the international community the opportunity to improve workplace productivity and deliver decent work outcomes for migrant and national workers. To address the different obstacles faced by migrants in accessing healthcare and other social protection benefits, States can opt for different policy options which are not mutually exclusive:

  1. Ratification and application of relevant ILO Conventions and Recommendations as a first step towards the domestication of the principles and standards therein.  
  2. Conclusion and enforcement of social security agreements (bilateral/multilateral) to ensure social security coordination.
  3. Inclusion of social security provisions in bilateral labour agreements (BLAs) or Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).
  4. Adoption of unilateral measures including ensuring equality of treatment or the establishment of national social protection floors to extend social protection to migrant workers and their families.
  5. Complementary measures addressing the administrative, practical, and organizational obstacles faced by migrant workers.

Social protection in the text of the Global Compact

The theme of objective 22 is also very relevant for the following sections of the GCM:

  • Objective 5 (para. 21)
  • Objective 16 (para. 32)
  • Objective 21 (para. 37)

The GCM rests on key international law and standards including the Equality of Treatment Convention, 1962 (No. 118) and other International Labour Organization conventions on promoting decent work in labour migration including the Migration for Employment Convention of 1949 (No.97), Migrant Workers Convention of 1975 (No.143), Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers of 2011 (No.189).

Ensuring migrants’ and returnees’ access to social protection therefore constitutes one of the key priorities of the GCM.

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) report is available in AR, ZH, EN, FR, RU, ES.

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