The government has revealed that there are about 3.7 million independent workers in Venezuela who could potentially benefit from the reforms to the Law on Social Security in Venezuela, enacted on April 21 by President Hugo Chávez.
“This reform allows independent workers to contribute [to their social security funds] without any limitations. Article 6 of the Law on Social Security... used to contain legal restrictions related to the number of contributions or the stability of the payments,” said Carlos Rotondaro, the president of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS).
Under the old system, if a worker became unemployed or began working independently, he or she would only be eligible to keep contributing to their social security fund if they had already made 250 contributions in the last 10 years. Anyone who stopped paying their social security contributions for a period of more than six months would also be dropped from the system.
Now, with the reform, independent workers such as taxi and motorcycle-taxi drivers, hairstylists, carpenters, artists, and others can voluntarily contribute the equivalent of 13 percent of the minimum wage (about $50 per months) or an amount of their choice to their social security funds.
“It’s important to know that this reform will not only benefit low-income sectors, but also independent professionals,” Rotondaro said during a public assembly about the new regulations in a central square in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.
In order to have access to this benefit, workers must go to any of the 44 IVSS offices and request a form for independent workers, present an ID document, and declare their income so that their contributions can be calculated.
For instance, if a hairstylist wished to pay the first of her contributions today, she could immediately join the social security system and receive the right to a retirement pension standardized to the minimum wage starting from 55 years of age for women and 60 years of age for men.
The April 21 reform helps fulfill the principle of universal social security established in the constitution, which states in article 86 that “All persons are entitled to Social Security as a nonprofit public service to guarantee health and protection in contingencies of maternity, fatherhood, illness, invalidity, catastrophic illness, disability, special needs, occupational risks, loss of employment, unemployment, old age, widowhood, loss of parents, housing, burdens deriving from family life, and any other social welfare circumstances.”
The assembly held in Caracas is the first of many such events due to be held throughout the country, with independent labor organizations tasked with raising awareness about the reform in order to ensure that it is fulfilled.