Designing Social Protection for Non-Standard Workers in Southeast Asia

This working paper is a compilation of existing social protection schemes in SEA-6 and key policy considerations for governments and the private sector.

While flexible, informal or non-standard work has consistently accounted for significant economic activity in Southeast Asia, the digital economy has introduced new opportunities for productive work In response, governments are reviewing how to address the gaps and limitations in social protection coverage for citizens in undertaking traditional and new flexible, informal or non-standard work.  

This working paper is a landscape review of social protection policies for non-standard workers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (collectively, “SEA-6”). Key policy considerations for governments and the private sector are also discussed. 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Non-standard work arrangements comprise the majority of the working population in Southeast Asia.  The informal workforce represents over 78% of the working population over the age of 15, which is significantly higher than the global average of around 51%. 
  2. SEA-6 economies have taken a more flexible approach in promoting social protection. Broadly, countries have tailored existing social protection policies to encourage participation. 
  3. There is an opportunity for public-private partnership to promote social protection of non-standard workers. With more changes to be expected in the future of work, continued collaboration between individuals, governments and the private sector, such as digital platform companies, can lead to policy solutions that are efficient, flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of workers. 

This working paper is an invitation to a conversation. Its aim is to inspire important discussions between the public and the private sector to design and co-create responsive social protection policies for the welfare of citizens doing flexible, informal or non-standard work in the region.

Download Agenda

Download Report

Latest Updates

Latest Updates​

Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.


Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management.


Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 14 countries worldwide. Her portfolio covered sustainability, brand and data privacy. She was concurrently the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, the private philanthropy of the owner of the COMO Group.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to SuperNature Pte Ltd, COMO Hotels and Resorts (Asia) Pte Ltd, COMO Club Pte Ltd, and Mogems Pte Ltd. In the not-for-profit space, Ming is an Advisor to Singapore Totalisator Board and serves on the boards of Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre, St. Joseph’s Institution International and COMO Foundation.


As part of her commitment to holistic education and the arts, she also sits on the Advisory Panel of the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore.


Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.