A labour conference among the five BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has taken New Delhi closer to signing social security agreements with the other member countries, the Union government said.

A social security agreement provides the benefits of detachment, totalization and portability. Detachment exempts international workers from making contribution in the host country and totalization allows the service rendered abroad to be counted for benefits in the home country, while portability allows benefits to be availed in either country.

“We had a detailed and fulfilling discussion on a social security agreement and the benefits it will have on the employees and employers. We have moved closer to agreements. Partner countries are willing to take negotiations forward,” labour and employment secretary Apurva Chandra said.

“We shall have a few more negotiations, perhaps at the individual country level, before proceeding further,” said Chandra, who chaired a meeting with representatives of the BRICS nations and officials of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Such agreements will help reduce dual social security deductions, allow pension portability, and lead to a reduction of employee cost for companies working in each other’s country.

The Union cabinet had approved a plan in December 2019 to sign a bilateral social security agreement with Brazil. India has social security agreements with at least 19 countries, including Germany, Japan, and Australia and the Union labour ministry has been talking to its BRICS counterparts since 2016.

“With trade and investments growing among BRICS countries, there is an increasing flow of citizens who work for their companies in other nations… The companies often make dual contributions in the absence of detachments provisions that affect the competitiveness and increases employee cost,” said another government official who did not want to be named.

The labour code on social security that has merged the multiple laws will make it easier to implement such agreements provided the other country is also keen to do so, the official said.

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