It was in May that the Iranian regime’s Parliamentary Research Center released a report on the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis, announcing that between 2.8 million and 6.4 million ‘current employees’ were out of work due to the crisis.
The report said that 3 million jobs were added between 2015 and 2019, but because these jobs are among the most volatile jobs in the service sector, they are often not contracted and not covered by insurance. Emphasizing that the poorer deciles of society would be more ‘affected’ by the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, the report suggested to the government that it should not prioritize giving a basket of goods to government employees and instead give it to the poor who lost their simple jobs.
Now, Roozbeh Kordoni, the head of the Higher Institute for Social Security Research, has confirmed the unemployment of 2.9 to 6.4 million Iranians due to the coronavirus outbreak, announcing the details of the institute’s recent report on ‘Unemployment Insurance during the coronavirus days’.
In a press conference yesterday, he referred to the global statistics on corona unemployment, citing statistics from the Parliamentary Research Center, and referred to a report by the International Labor Organization, according to which the coronavirus outbreak leads to an unprecedented decline in economic activity and working hours.
“It is estimated that 4.8 percent of working hours were lost during the first quarter of 2020 (equivalent to approximately 135 million full-time jobs assuming 48 hours per week) compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.”
This statistic is not small in Iran, according to the report of the Deputy Minister of Economy of the Ministry of Welfare, and businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis are over 4.8 million jobs, which is equivalent to 20.3% of total employment.
Social and unemployment insurance plans to deal with the coronavirus crisis in other countries
To deal with this situation, social insurance and unemployment insurance schemes have been among the most important schemes around the world. Specifically, 171 countries have introduced or implemented a total of 801 social protection measures, including social assistance programs, social insurance, and labor market policies in the face of COVID-19.
Kordoni spoke about other countries’ actions on unemployment insurance in the coronavirus situation; Items such as increasing the number of benefits and strengthening the adequacy of benefits to ensure income security for the unemployed, facilitating the conditions and requirements for having a pension to cover more unemployed people affected by the coronavirus, for example by reducing the required records, expanding coverage to the excluded to support those vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as migrant workers or freelancers, increase the duration of benefits, especially for those whose entitlements expire in times of crisis, due to the lack of chances of finding a new job during the epidemic.
According to him, some countries take measures such as deducting the period of pension benefit from the right to a pension in accordance with the law, facilitating the administrative process of unemployment insurance, including reducing the waiting period for receiving a pension or creating an online platform for absenteeism. They have taken initiatives such as providing a reduction in working hours or a wage subsidy from the Unemployment Insurance Fund to prevent a massive reduction in the workforce and to increase the number of people receiving benefits.
In Iran, however, as Kordoni says, the payment of this pension was intended for a period of three months (March, April, and May 2020) by facilitating the eligibility of those covered by the Labor Law, the Social Security Law, and the Unemployment Insurance Law.
Based on this, people who were not covered by labor, social security and unemployment insurance laws, and people whose employment relationship with the employer was cut off in December 2019 (for whom the insurance premium had not been paid) became aware that they were not covered. As a result, the application was not registered by this group of non-applicants. This action, of course, was done at the beginning of the second half of April 2020, and before that, this was not available in the system.
The third case, according to Kordoni, was unemployment due to the spread of the coronavirus in the form of unforeseen events (the subject of Note 2 of Article 2 of the Unemployment Insurance Law): “With the recognition of the coronavirus unemployed, subjected as unemployed to this note, the requirement of at least two months of insurance premiums for formal workers and one year for contract workers to be entitled to unemployment benefits was abolished and one month of insurance premiums (January 2020) for every two categories became the basis of individuals’ entitlement to enjoy.”
Such disbursements were a reason for the Program and Budget Organization to allocate 3 trillion Tomans from the National Credit Development Fund to pay a three-month stipend (March, April, and May 2020).
But the story of people being harmed by unemployment goes back not only to the past six months and the outbreak of the coronavirus, but since the beginning of 2019 with rising of unbridled inflation, the life has become very difficult for Iran’s households, and that difficulty has now increased with the outbreak of the coronavirus and the closure of a number of businesses.