Zurich Insurance believes that COVID-19 has created a sense of urgency among the workforce – accelerating trends such as digitalisation and amplifying the strain on social protection systems. As such, it is calling for a radical rethink of work protections.
“All working generations are affected - the young are becoming more risk-averse and older workers looking to postpone retirement,” said Nick Homer, head of market management at Zurich Insurance. “Therefore, true collaboration is needed between state, employers and benefit providers to enable a new social contract to protect workers against risks of post-pandemic economy.
“Maintaining of a well-trained and protected workforce is the lynchpin of a healthy economy and everyone needs to play their part.”
The comments come after the insurer issued a report with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford. The study saw two global surveys carried out, alongside interviews with business leaders, and came to the conclusion that no single stakeholder can possibly shoulder the burden of COVID-19 alone. As such, there is a need for shared responsibility between employers, individuals, governments and benefits providers.
Some of the key findings of the report included that: there is a growing need for protection, especially among atypical workers like freelancers and those who work part-time; Millennials and Gen Z generations are likely to become more risk-averse as a result of the pandemic, including rethinking self-employment; while new forms of public-private partnerships could be key to easing pressure on governments – such as the compulsory adoption of unemployment insurance, income protection and health insurance.
“Insurance schemes ought to have embedded within them a redistributive capacity as a means of reducing inequality, such as between higher and lower income earners, as well as between different worker generations,” the insurer added in a statement. “The rise of a new world of big data also calls for protection that is designed with greater inbuilt flexibility and continuity across career choices, which includes a more flexible uptake, payment for, and switching between and within insurance products.”