Migrant Workers’ Rights to Social Protection in ASEAN: Case Studies of Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand

Social protection has, over the past few years, become a significant issue in many countries, including those countries in the ASEAN region. The world of work has become increasingly precarious for many workers, particularly for those working in the informal sector, many of whom are migrant workers. The global financial crisis has heightened the precariousness of work, and over the past few years we have witnessed the steady erosion of protections for workers all across the world. Migrant workers are among the most adversely affected by this rollback of labour protections. Looked to as a pool of cheap, flexible, and exploitable labour, rights for migrant workers are often secondary to the economic benefits they bring to both countries of origin (by providing a cheap labour force) and countries of destination (through their considerable remittances).

As a desk review, the report briefly and succinctly lays out the international and ASEAN standards regarding social protection, migrants, and migrant social protection before exploring some of the general themes in the debate about migrant access to social protection globally. Four case studies on low- and medium skilled migrant access to social protection in the ASEAN region in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand are then provided.