The National Social Security Fund is an independent institution supervised by the Minister of Labor, and is composed of three funds: Sickness and Maternity Allowance Fund, Family Allowance Fund and End-of-Service Indemnity Fund. Law 128 issued in 2010 allowed Palestinian employees to benefit from the end-of-service indemnity only, and deprived them of the hospitalization, sickness and maternity allowances, as the legislator considered back then that refugees are benefitting from the hospitalization, sickness and maternity services provided by UNRWA.
On August 17, 2010, the Lebanese Parliament promulgated law 128, amending the Social Security Law relating to the how Palestinian workers residing in Lebanon and registered with the DPAR – at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities – benefit from the allowances of the funds. The most important points stipulated by the amendment are:
- Annulling the reciprocity condition;
Setting up a separate and independent account for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) for the subscriptions of Palestinian workers, provided that neither the Treasury nor the NSSF are held accountable for any financial commitment related thereto;
- Palestinian workers are to benefit from the end-of-service indemnity and workmen compensation;
- Palestinian workers are excluded from the sickness, maternity and familial allowances.
For the implementation of this amendment, the office of the NSSF’s board of directors issued an informational memorandum bearing the number 437 on May 23, 2011, which stipulates that “Palestine refugees working in Lebanon shall be subject to and covered by the provisions of the Social Security Law”. The key provisions of this memorandum are as follows:
- Subject to the provisions governing the implementation of the Social Security Law, the Palestinian refugee working on Lebanese soil shall be subject to the end-of-service indemnity, provided that:
- He is residing in Lebanon;
- He is registered with the DPAR at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities;
- He is associated with one or several employers;
- He holds a work permit according to the laws and regulations in force.
The Palestinian refugee working in Lebanon, who meets all the conditions provided for in (1), may firstly benefit from the allowances of the end-of-service indemnity under the same conditions from which the Lebanese workers benefit, and is exempted from the reciprocity principle, as stipulated in paragraph 3 of this memorandum.
The persons covered by the provisions of law no. 128 do not benefit from the maternity, sickness and family allowances.
The end-of-service indemnities are settled to those covered, according to the legal and regulatory provisions in force, knowing that the NSSF and the Treasury do not assume any financial commitments or obligations towards them.
A rate of 23.5 per cent shall be paid to the Fund, and is distributed as follows:
- 9 per cent to the maternity and sickness allowances (7 per cent by the employer and 2 per cent by the employee)
- 6 per cent to the family allowances (by the employer)
- 8 per cent to the end-of-service indemnity (by the employer)
- 0.5 per cent to the administration of the fund (by the employer).
The internal measures applied within the board of directors of the Social Security interpreted the laws in force as stipulating that the employer of a Palestinian worker has to pay 21.5 per cent of the employee’s salary (i.e. the full contribution to the three social security branches, just like the Lebanese worker). However, the Palestinian worker only benefits from the end-of-service indemnity, the contribution of which amounts to 8 per cent only. This issue has blocked the implementation of law no. 128 on the practical level. On a general level, it is evident that the number of Palestinian refugees benefitting from the end-of-service indemnity fund is quite limited, which denotes a pending problem, despite the acknowledgement of the need to grant Palestinian refugees work permits, following the legal benefits that they were granted in accordance with law 129.
LPDC has been carefully dealing with the social security issue of Palestinian refugees working in Lebanon in light of the legislative amendment of the Social Security Law through law 128. LPDC’s interest was clearly manifested by its adoption of one of the key recommendations submitted by the Lebanese Working Group on Palestinian Refugee Affairs to Prime Minister Salam, during the visit of the group’s delegation to the Prime Minister on June 24, 2015, which stipulated the following: “Restricting the subscriptions paid by the employer to the NSSF to 8.5 per cent instead of 23.5 per cent of the salary, knowing that Palestinian workers only benefit from the end-of-service indemnity fund, whereby the employer is bound to settle an amount of 8.5 per cent only on behalf of the worker.”