New approach needed to protect more workers in the 21st century
February 12, 2019
Head of Communications
Social protection: from fragile to agile
Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) launched a major three-year research program, Agile Protection, in partnership with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford. The study will look at the potential for developing frameworks involving different stakeholders, so more workers are provided with flexible protection and financial support in an increasingly fragmented labour market.
The Agile Protection program launches with a statement report “Social protection: from fragile to agile” examining recent labour market trends and the current systems in place to support people. The report stresses that these systems need to be rethought in the context of a 21st century landscape of work and retirement. This includes established insurance models that are designed around traditional career paths and have concentrated on supporting people at specific phases in their lives.
Those entering the labour market today will typically switch employers several times throughout their careers. We are seeing an increase in the use of different types of employment contracts, such as gig workers in the sharing economy; and increased longevity is extending working lives and creating a growing need for career breaks for responsibilities like caring. These factors mean many people are lacking any kind of financial safety net to support them now and as they approach retirement. Gary Shaughnessy, Chair of the Z Zurich Foundation, said: “The launch of Agile Protection, builds on the extensive work we have already published on income protection gaps and the challenges that these bring to people, society, business and governments. These are currently exacerbated by uncertainty in the economy, higher levels of consumer debt and stretched welfare budgets.
“At the same time, the dramatic shifts we are seeing in our workplaces present us with a clear need for more social protection and for flexible types that can be tailored to support people throughout their working lives regardless of where and how they choose to work.”
“The responsibility for delivering solutions needs a coordinated approach between individuals, employers, governments and insurers. Through Agile Protection, we are looking to develop workable models that reflect and meet the needs of today’s workforce, providing more people with the support they need.”
Key milestones for the Agile Protection research program include: