ASTANA – Approximately 1.385 million Kazakh citizens have updated their employment status since the beginning of 2018, when the figure was 2.7 million, said Minister of Labour and Social Protection Madina Abylkassymova during an Aug. 28 government meeting.
Updating the status of self-employed and informally employed citizens and bringing the unemployed into a formal labour sector have been among the key objectives of the ministry’s road map.
The informal labour sector has been an increasing area of concern for Kazakhstan, yet, the country is not the only one facing the issue. Nearly 60 percent of the world’s 2.9 billion workers are estimated to be informally employed and lacking basic social protection.
“First, 548,400 employees signed contracts that entailed mandatory pension payments. [Of those,] 9,300 people are working at home and 13,000 entrepreneurs officially registered their work. [In addition,] 84,000 more started receiving social payments and 19,000 started receiving targeted social assistance, while 29,000 women started prenatal care,” said Abylkassymova.
In February, President Nursultan Nazarbayev criticised the ministry’s performance and noted its failure to address the self-employed population, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of the nation’s workforce and does not pay taxes. As a result, introduction of a mandatory social medical insurance system initially scheduled for July 2017 was delayed.
Offices now span the country working to formalise employment status.
The productive employment programme, the minister said, currently encompasses a targeted group of 92,700 individuals, including 62,000 in fixed full-time jobs, 12,400 on social community service, 12,000 in short term training, 8,000 in social jobs and 3,400 on youth internships.
Citizens used news channels to update their status.
“Hot lines were created in each region, where employed citizens could call and report about forcibly receiving salary under the table and not receiving mandatory pension payments,” said Abylkassymova.
Electronic automated channels are now used to update citizens’ status. Unlike in previous years, when local officials visited homes to conduct surveys, people can now visit the e-government or Kazakhtelecom websites, phone the e-government call centre or seek help in public service centres.
The ministry is working to expand the number of channels, including with second-tier banks and mobile operators, said Abylkassymova.
The road map envisioned creating new categories in the labour base, including homemakers, targeted social assistance recipients, pregnant women, citizens working in foreign companies and labour migrants.
Four categories – hourly workers, freelancers, farmers and unregistered unemployed citizens – however, still do not have up-to-date status, she noted.
The ministry launched a campaign in March in an effort to identify citizens employed without labour contracts. Last year’s figures revealed more than one million people were working without receiving the pension and social payments to which they are legally entitled.
The campaign produced results, as more than 7,500 employers signed more than 30,000 labour contracts.
Abylkassymova noted the labour market is now skewing towards the self-employed.
“In fact, we witness that the labour market is developing more toward self-employment and freelancing. This happens around the world, and Kazakhstan is not an exception,” she said.
She added the regulations concerning citizens who suffered from the nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk test site in East Kazakhstan may be subject to change and promised to work on the issue.
“The budget plan for the next three years envisions the indexation of allowance for individuals that lived in the nuclear test site area. But some certain significant or special measures of support were not discussed yet and the budget does not have those,” she said.