Isolation, that is the indication of the authorities in case of getting Covid-19. But how to do it when that means not working and losing income? The question is relevant for more 35 million workers in Mexico that do not have access to health institutions and social security and, therefore, do not have access to work disability.
According to the National Occupation and Employment Survey (ENOE), the 61% of the workforce of our country does not have access to a health institution, which means that if they get sick or suffer a work accident they are left without a secure income for the time they need to be absent from activities.
“In a pandemic context, clearly these people do not have the right to a disability; for example, if they contract Covid. It is very overwhelming to realize the number of people who do not have access to these benefits, ”explains Katia Guzmán, Data Coordinator of the organization Mexico How Are We Going?
In the first three weeks of the year, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) has processed more than 600,000 disabilities due to Covid-19. The social security authorities expect this figure to increase towards the end of January.
“That element is very relevant right now due to the increase in infections that we are seeing and because of how it also affects productivity. That is one of the vulnerabilities that these informal workers that they already had before the pandemic,” says Ana Gutiérrez, coordinator of Foreign Trade and the Labor Market of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO).
As reported by the ENOE, at the end of 2021 the working population without social security exceeds by 669,381 people the level observed in March 2020, the month prior to the initial impact of the health emergency by Covid-19 in the labor market in Mexico.
From the perspective of Ana Gutiérrez, the high level of informality in the labor market in Mexico is the main factor why 35 million people do not have social security, a condition that makes them more vulnerable.
“They do not have guaranteed medical services when it comes to getting sick either from Covid or other diseases. All this generates greater vulnerability, a worse quality of life and it is something that unfortunately inhibits the country’s productivity”, points out the specialist.
Katia Guzmán agrees with this perception, the dimensions reached by the informal sector in our country it is the main reason why the majority of the workforce is unprotected in an emergency like the current one.
Although informality has been an escape valve in the face of the lack of job opportunities in the formal sector and has an important component of flexibility that allows people, especially women, to combine their work with other activities, the other side of the coin is that tend to be occupations with incomes that are often volatile and without legal benefits, such as social Security, explains the specialist. “What you work is what you generate.”
2021 closed with the highest number of informal workers, 32.2 million people occupied are in this condition. 21 months after the health emergency caused by Covid-19, the labor market reports 1.1 million informal workers above its level prior to the impact of the pandemic, in contrast to the growth of 68,446 jobs in the formal sector.
Without disabilities and with more risk
Lack of access to benefits such as a Laboral inhability It becomes “more serious” when considering that a good part of the sectors with greater informality cover activities with more workers exposed to contagion, says Ana Gutiérrez.
“We are seeing that there is greater informality in activities such as restaurants, lodging services, commerce, where there is much more interaction, where people face greater risks of contagion. It is worrying that informality is greater there because people do not have access to all these benefits Although they do not guarantee a recovery, they do help.
In Mexico, the employed population encompasses 56.9 million people, 62% of whom are in the service industry, in activities that usually require more face-to-face work and with tasks where there is more interaction with other people.
For Katia Guzmán, the growth of informality and of the population without social security To a large extent, it is the result of the lack of targeted public policies to protect employment, which has also influenced a recovery with a deterioration in the quality of work. “Everyone scratched with their own nails,” he emphasizes.
“This implies a total lack of protection. Although it is an attractive scheme given the flexibility it offers, it implies total lack of protection, except that the informal workers be very cautious and make voluntary contributions to the IMSS”, indicates the specialist.
According to the World OCC Occupational Thermometer, currently the 40% of professionals He is afraid of catching Covid-19 in his workplace. In the first week of the year, the proportion of workers expressing this fear was 29%.
“This is normal derived from the record of new infections have been registered in the country. Contrasts with the 4% who declare themselves happy to have interaction in the office”, highlighted the job bank in its report.