Coronavirus: half of global workforce 'at risk of losing income'
UN's International Labour Organisation says fallout from pandemic could destroy livelihoods of 1.6 billion people
Almost half the world’s workers could lose their income because of the coronavirus pandemic and government lockdowns, a UN report has found.
The world may see a loss of working hours equal to 305 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of the year, the International Labour Organisation said on Wednesday.
That would be the equivalent of 10.5 per cent of global employment.
But those particularly at risk are people working in informal jobs, who are self-employed and selling goods or services that have been curtailed by lockdown measures.
This includes members of the gig economy such as cleaners or food delivery couriers.
This category of worker accounts for more than 2 billion people globally, who often have poor access to health care and no income replacement in case of sickness or lockdown, the UN agency said.
“Many of them have no possibility to work remotely from home," its report said.
"Staying home means losing their jobs and without wages, they cannot eat."
Overall, the ILO estimates that 1.6 billion, just less than half of those in work, could have their livelihoods destroyed in the fallout from the pandemic.
It estimates that in the first month of the crisis, incomes of informal workers dropped by 60 per cent.
Africa and the Americas were hardest hit with a drop of 81 per cent, followed by Europe and Central Asia at 70 per cent and Asia and the Pacific at 21 per cent.
“As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent,” said the agency's director general, Guy Ryder.
“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future.”
The agency estimates that 68 per cent of the world’s workforce is under some form of lockdown, down from 80 per cent on April 1.
“Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing," Mr Ryder said.
"They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work.
"If we don’t help them now, these enterprises will simply perish.”
Nations have taken measures to protect workforces, but many furlough and wage replacement schemes do not include the self-employed or newly employed.
The UN agency is calling on governments to follow a “job-rich approach” when reactivating their economies after lockdowns are eased, backed by stronger employment policies and social protection.
It also advised international co-ordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures, and the adoption of international labour standards.
Updated: April 30, 2020 03:47 AM