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The success and failure of social security in Pakistan.

The Success and Failure of Social Security in Pakistan

Social Security in its primitive form existed since the advent of civilization. The origin of the modern Social Security movement may, however, be located at the beginning of the late eighteenth century in Western Europe. In this region, industrialisation had begun and the "proletariat" had made its debut. Between 1883 and 1889, the German Government led by Otto von Bismarck, created the first system of social insurance which was introduced in three stages: sickness insurance in 1883, employment injury insurance in 1884 and invalidity and old-age insurance in 1889; all of them applying compulsorily to wage-earners in industry. The example of Germany was soon followed by Austria and, at a distance of thirty to forty years, by the United Kingdom and the other countries of Europe, the USSR and Japan.

The preparatory Asian Regional Conference of the ILO adopted in 1947 at New Delhi, a resolution in which it urged that "in view of the extreme poverty, the wide prevalence of disease, epidemics, the high incidence of infant and maternal mortality, the low expectation of life and the misery & destitution caused by unemployment and under-employment among the working people of most Asian countries, the establishment of social security services which are an essential condition of building up genuine democratic society, has become an urgent task." The concept of Social Security later gained further momentum with the passage of Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th December, 1948.

According to Social Security Minimum Standards Convention, 1952, "Social Security is the result achieved by a comprehensive and successful series of public measures for protecting the public (or a large sector of it) from the economic distress that, in the absence of such measures, would be caused stoppage of earnings in sickness, unemployment, invalidity or old age and, after death; for making available to that same public medical care as needed and for subsidising families bringing up young children."

Implementation in Pakistan

The first ILO Mission visited Pakistan at the invitation of the Government in the autumn of 1952 to explore possibility of introducing Social Security Scheme in the country. In its report it recommended for "more adequate and certain protection" than was admissible to the workers for employment injury and maternity." The Government, however, asked for further assistance of ILO and the second Mission came in 1957. The Mission, after intensive study of the problems recommended the implementation of the Scheme. The Government of Pakistan, therefore, promulgated the Employees' Social Insurance Ordinance in 1962. However, before the said Ordinance could be enforced, the subject of Labour Welfare was transferred (under the Constitution of 1962) to the Provincial Governments. As such the Government of West Pakistan promulgated the West Pakistan Employees' Social Security Ordinance in 1965. On completion of the preliminary work in this regard, the Social Security Scheme was launched with effect from 1st March, 1967. On dismemberment of One Unit with effect from 1st July, 1970, the Scheme was reorganised on provincial basis as a result of which three independent Institutions viz. Sindh Employees' Social Security Institution (SESSI), Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) and NWFP Employees' Social Security Institution came into existence. The Scheme has been introduced in Balochistan with effect from 1st November, 1990 and is being administered by Balochistan Employees' Social Security Institution (BESSI)


The Social Security Institution is an autonomous body with a three-tier organization. The Provincial Government lays down its broad policy and exercises control at the highest level. A Governing Body which includes the representatives of the Government, the employers and the workers formulates regulations of the organization and supervises its functioning. The Commissioner is the Chief Executive of the Institution who exercises all powers on behalf of Governing Body.

Benefits: The main benefits of the Social Security Scheme are (a) Cash Benefits, (b) Medical Care.

Cash Benefits: (1) Sickness Benefit, (2) Injury Benefit, (3) Death Grant, (4) Maternity Benefit, (5) Disablement Pensions, (6) Disablement Gratuity, and (7) Survivors' Pension.

Medical Care: The medical care facilities include: (1) Treatment from dispensary, (2) Specialists' consultation, (3) Essential investigations such as X-ray, Blood, Sputum Tests, etc., (4) Indoor treatment in hospital, and (5) Provision of medicines from ESSI's medical centres/approved drug stores.


At present Social Security Scheme in Pakistan covers 500,817 workers employed in 23,699 establishments. The law applies to any worker who earns wages upto Rs. 1500/-per month and is employed in an establishment covered under the Scheme and having at least 10 insurable employees in roll.


Initially the workers were required to contribute @ 2 per cent employers @ 4 per cent of the wages as contribution. According to the Labour Policy announced by the Government in February, 1972 workers' contribution was abolished and rate of employers' contribution was enhanced to 6 per cent. Later on, from 16th July, 1976 the rate of contribution was raised to 7 per cent (entirely payable by the employer).

PHOTO : SESSI's Children OPD Ward


S. M. Moin Qureshi is Director Administration in the SESSI and an Honorary Professor at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi. He has five books to his credit on various subjects. He has compiled/edited scores of the publications of SESSI and has been editing its house journal Behbood, Karachi since its inception in 1972. He is renowned satirist whose column has been regularly appearing in the week-end edition of a Karachi Eveninger.
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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Industrial Relations in Pakistan '91
Author:Qureshi, S.M. Moin
Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:Human resource development.
Next Article:Human rights and manpower utilisation.

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