In an effort to change labor paradigms in the country, Paraguay’s Ministry of Labor has established Feb. 26 as “National Formal Labor Day.” The Ministry’s goal is to ensure that workers’ rights are met, and to transmit the message that decent working conditions are a crucial step in the path to social and economic development for businesspeople, citizens, and all linked to the country’s economy.
In celebration of the new holiday, every Paraguayan could go to three places in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital, and ask for a small card stamped with the phrase Soy formal, or, “I’m formal.” With this card, they received discounts in restaurants, hair salons, supermarkets, and pharmacies, among other establishments.
The Ministry of Labor also partnered with private companies to produce a new board game, Supervalé, which is similar to America’s classic board game Monopoly. The goal of the game, which will be distributed by the Ministry to homes in rural communities, is to ensure that emerging generations understand the importance formal work holds for a country’s development, as well as the personal and societal benefits formal work provides.
Partners celebrates the Ministry of Labor’s commitment to promote formal work and decent job as this pertains to a multidimensional problem on the root causes of child labor. We will be supporting the government’s effort to combat the worst forms of child labor, improving working conditions, and enforcing primary education in Paraguay through our Paraguay Okakuaa program.
Of Paraguay’s 7 million inhabitants, 214,000 people neither have a job nor study. This means that 5 percent of Paraguayans are unemployed and not on a path to employment. In order for emerging generations to want to participate in formal work, job conditions have to be decent and more appealing than untraditional work such as a job in the black market. The main divisions between a black market job and a formal job is that a formal job must offer at least a minimum wage, which is 1,824,055 guaraníes (approximately $320 USD), and social security.
Statistics published by the Ministry claim that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the ones that have yet to be formalized, and that small business owners must understand the concept of providing decent employment, as they are the first places young people go to apply for a job.
According to the United Nations, the four pillars of decent work are employment creation, social protection, rights at work, and social dialogue. Paraguay’s Instituto de Previsión Social (IPS), or “Social Security Institute,” offers workers medical and financial protection, as well as retirement benefits. However, since many employers fail to register their employees with the system, workers don’t have access to the IPS benefits.
National Formal Labor Day formed as a result of Paraguay’s 2014 National Plan of Formalization and Fight against Illegality (National Plan). The Ministry of Labor, as well as other institutions, is currently working to implement the National Plan, which will delve much deeper into restructuring Paraguay’s formal work conditions and protocol.
On Feb. 26, every company that is certified by the Ministry of Labor for meeting all the requirements for formal and decent work had a sign on their doors that indicated something to celebrate: “National Formal Labor Day.” The goals are in place, the results are positive, and the efforts to formalize work in Paraguay are on the right track.