Mr. Mohammad Hasan Zeda, Deputy Managing Director of the ISSO in Insurance Affairs, clarifying the ISSO project on Extension of Coverage which was appreciated by the ISSA Regional Social Security Forum in Asia and Pacific in November 2015 on the occasion of competition for the ISSA Good Practice Award, stated: Our performance is targeted to promote the ISSO Insured satisfaction.
Speaking in the panel discussion on Coverage Extension in the ISSA Technical Seminar hosted by the Iranian Social Security Organization in Tehran, Mr. Zeda acknowledged Mr. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, the ISSA Secretary General, and said: "Social security system has been active in Iran since 1931 through an entity under the title of Provident Fund, in 1947 as the Social Welfare Institution, in 1952 under the title of Workers Social Insurances Organization and finally since 1975 to present, by the Iranian Social Security Organization”.
He explained: The total contribution rate for the ISSO insured population is 33 percent of the wage of which 23 percent is paid by the employer, 7 percent by the insured, and 3 percent is borne by the government for the unemployment benefits.
The ISSO covered population are wage-earners including self-employed, Iranian nationals residing abroad (whether employed or unemployed), as well as state employees who are not entitled to insurance coverage by other Pension Funds.
Considering the increased age of Insurance Funds resulting in financial problems all around the world as a common challenge, Mr. Zeda declared that, I believe increasing contribution rate, defining especial income tax for social security, benefit adjustment, improving the monitoring system, and coverage extension are some solutions to maintain the financial balance.
He emphasized extending insurance coverage to new occupational categories, facilitating the voluntarily insurance requirements, contribution exemption to encourage uncovered people to join social security system, providing immediate access to benefits for improving the level of satisfaction, informing and improving public awareness, and constructive interaction with stakeholders as the major strategies being implemented by the ISSO.
As regards the coverage extension to hard-to-cover groups, he said that, we used a new technique and preferred to interact with unions, associations, and the focal points of managing these specific groups instead of making individual relationship. For example, we concluded contracts with focal centers of religious schools as the employers of clergymen which resulted in the insurance coverage of 80000 clergymen. Moreover, construction workers, drivers of public transferring vehicles, carpet and rug weavers, physicians, artists as well as craftsmen are also entitled to this scheme and covered by the ISSO.
Noting to the better situation for the employer and insured through the link between the organization and associations and guild unions, Mr. Zeda asserted: As a result, instead of the insured individual referring to the organization, the employer follows the procedure of insurance and contribution payment. Unlike the compulsory insurance scheme, we set the age limitation of below 50 years old as one of the main requirements for this scheme. Furthermore, all insured are directed to health centers to be examined physically and mentally. Meanwhile, if an employer stops contribution payment, the insurance coverage will be immediately ceased.
Deputy Managing Director of the ISSO in Insurance Affairs continued: According to this model, the insured pays his/her monthly contribution share (7 percent of the wage) on-line and the employer pays his/her contribution share through mechanized systems to the organization. The related union or association is obliged to send the approved lists to the ISSO on a monthly basis.
We provided facilities for the self-employed and voluntarily insured groups to be able to conclude an individual contract with the ISSO in order to preserve his/her contribution records and take advantage of social security benefits in the case of losing his/her job. Formally, having at least one year of compulsory insurance payment was necessary for concluding the contract, but now, this period is decreased to 30 days which has led to increased number of the insured population. We also determined the age limitation of 45 and 50 for women and men, respectively, to minimize the negative effects of age requirements. The compulsory qualification for holding professional skill certificate for the self-employed is omitted as well, therefore, only employment in that job is acceptable.
Mr. Zeda announced: All manufacturing, industrial and technical workshops with 5 workers are exempted from contribution payment and the employer’s proportion of contribution payment is paid by the government which encourages the employers to recruite labor-force.
He added: During the 5th development plan, if any workshop employed labor-force more than the defined number, the contribution share of the extra workers would be also paid by the government. Developing insurance branches and health centers, establishing sub-branches in the out of reach places, benefiting from ICT, establishing CRM center and social security official website, telegram channel, and informing the insured and improving public awareness are good strategies for extending insurance coverage.
Today, more than 25000 individuals have joined the social security telegram channel and receive the latest news promptly. We have been active in the field of specific publications and mass media while assisting the establishment of more NGOs, besides workers’ and employers’ unions for enhancing their collaboration with the ISSO. Moreover, interaction with data centers of the country was very effective and currently, we have online connection with State Registry Offices of foreign countries, Tax Affairs Organization, Organization for Civil Registration, guilds and unions, he concluded.