In March 2020, WIEGO’s Law Programme began a project to collect, collate and analyse the COVID-19 laws in 41 countries in Africa, 7 in Asia, and 16 in Latin America. The aim of this project was to investigate whether lawmakers recognized and addressed the needs of informal workers as they responded to the immediate challenges that the crisis presented. Our analysis considered four questions, namely:
- To what extent did COVID-19 laws recognize informal workers as essential workers?
- To what extent did COVID-19 laws and policies include informal workers in social protection and relief that governments provided in response to the pandemic?
- To what extent did COVID-19 laws recognize informal workers’ needs for preventative measures to protect their safety and health during the pandemic?
- To what extent did governments recognize informal workers’ organizations as partners and include them in COVID-19 decision-making structures and processes?
The laws covered the period from March to October 2020. We collected statutes, regulations, statutory instruments, policies, guidelines and protocols and official announcements from national governments and local authorities. We also collected court documents and court decisions concerning COVID-19.
Outputs from our Research
"Protecting Informal Workers in Public Spaces: Lessons from Asia" Blog by Pamhidzai Bamu and Krithika Dinesh (September 2022)
Drawing on the WIEGO Law Programme's analysis of the impact of COVID-19 laws on informal vendors in selected Asian countries, this blog highlights the reality that informal vendors bear the costs of health and safety in the workplace. It makes a case for holding local authorities who control public space responsible for these costs.
Social Protection for Self-Employed Informal Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa: A rights-based assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis (February 2022)
The rights-based approach to social protection implies that governments bear a duty to realize the right and are accountable for the actions they take toward this. The authors argue that the surveyed African countries have not gone far enough to comply with their duty to extend social protection to self-employed workers, who account for a large proportion of the labour force in most countries. During 2020, several COVID-19 relief measures leveraged existing social protection programmes in the surveyed countries. The overwhelming majority of those that reached self-employed informal workers leveraged social assistance programmes rather than social insurance programmes, highlighting the low level of coverage of the self-employed through contributory schemes.
"Informal workers need more than legal recognition" Blog by Mariana Prandini Assis (November 2021)
This blog draws on the WIEGO Law Programme's analysis of COVID-19 laws and their impact on informal vendors in Latin America to argue that legal recognition is not enough for informal workers.
The Recognition and Protection of Informal Traders in COVID-19 Laws: Lessons from Asia (October 2021)
This resource document analyses the COVID-19 laws and their impact on street vendors in 7 Asian countries. In particular, it considers lockdown provisions and the declaration of essential services, social protection, occupational health and safety provisions and social dialogue.
"Regulating Informal Food Vending in Times of COVID-19 and Beyond: Best Practices from Africa and Latin America" Blog by Teresa Marchiori (September 2021)
This blog highlights the good practices and pitfalls that should challenge local authorities to rethink their approach to informal vending and access to public space during the crisis – and beyond. It stresses that legislators should use their learnings to design long-term strategies and enable legal frameworks that protect and support informal food vendors – fully reflecting their contribution as providers of essential services.
The Impact of COVID-19 Laws on Street Vendors and Market Traders: Trends and Insights from Latin America (July 2021)
This resource document analyses the COVID-19 laws and their impact on street vendors in 16 Latin American countries. In particular, it considers lockdown provisions and the declaration of essential services, social protection, and occupational health and safety provisions.
The Recognition and Protection of Informal Traders in COVID-19 Laws: Lessons from Africa (December 2020)
This resource document analyses the COVID-19 laws and their impact on street vendors in 41 African countries. In particular, it considers lockdown provisions and the declaration of essential services, social protection, occupational health and safety provisions and social dialogue.
Law and Informality Insights Newsletter (August 2020)
This edition of Law and Informality Insights analyses the COVID-19 laws with a focus on domestic workers and street vendors. WIEGO’s Law Programme collected and collated the COVID-19 laws in some 51 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We consider the lockdown provisions, essential services and social protection in relation to the two occupational groups.