General information on social security in Cameroon
Cameroon's social protection system has undergone two phases of development: pre-independence and post-independence.
Social protection before independence
The substance of the Cameroonian social system given in a precise way by the Order of December 6, 1945 set up by France, creating a compensation fund for family benefits whose Head Office was in Douala. At that time, social legislation was still at a double speed. We understand that the fund only covered French workers and those of the same rank through the claim of indigenous workers and the action of international organisations, excluding Cameroonians.
It is important to note, however, that prior to this scheduling, some colonial texts were already laying the foundations for an embryo of social security in Cameroon; to illustrate it, it is worth mentioning the Decree of November 17th, 1937, which, for the first time, laid down the principle of direct compensation by employers for industrial accidents to their workers; the Decree of January 7, 1944, regulating native labour in Cameroon, and in Title VI, which instituted a system for the compensation of industrial accidents and occupational diseases, is also mentioned. This system was not only discriminatory because it applied only to native workers, and compensation was derisory.
The labour code of the overseas countries promulgated on December 15, 1952, brought some order to the numerous initiatives of the various texts of the colonial administration tending to set up in Cameroon some seeds of social insurance. The benefit of the compensation fund was extended to all workers (Article 237 of the Code). A Decree of 1 July 1956 actually reflected the extension of the personal scope of the Family Benefits Compensation Fund.
On the eve of Independence, Law No.59/25 of April 11, 1959 repealed the Decree of 1956 and reorganised the fund. Family benefits included:
- family allowances distributed in respect of dependent minor children;
- prenatal benefits paid during pregnancy;
- the single salary or the household allowance (additional salary for the worker whose spouse has no paid employment);
- benefits in kind.
The Labour Code of 1952 also provided for the extension to all workers of covering occupational risks (sickness and accident). The Decree of February 24, 1957 organized the formula. This was based on the idea of the employer's liability for occupational diseases and industrial accidents. But benefits were paid by an insurance agency towhich employers paid contributions.Finally, if the idea of liability was retained, it was diluted because the contributions were due regardless of the actual occurrence of damage.
The system worked with several insurers who were private insurance companies. But the contributions and the benefits were fixed by the authority. The former varied according to the risk run, the seconds depended on the severity of the attack.
The 1952 labour code finally allowed Cameroonians to be covered by old age risk coverage. The system adopted was in line with the French system provided for by the 1945 Ordinance. It was the distribution system consisting of the assets to be contributed for the service of retiree benefits.
Social protection after independence
With Independence and reunification, Cameroon, a member of the Labour organisation since 1960, was brought to adapt its legislation to international standards. This adjustment of the legal framework of social protection was done through:
- Law No. 67 / LF / 07 of 12 June 1967 establishing a code of Family Benefits (prenatal allowances, family allowances, maternity benefits, daily maternity leave allowances);
- Law No. 67 / LF / 08 of 12 June 1967 which established the National Social Insurance Fund as an autonomous body in charge of managing the family benefits scheme;
- Law 69 / LF / 18 of 10 November 1969 establishing a pension scheme for old-age, invalidity and death pensions. Under this scheme, funding was provided through social contributions collected from both employers and workers;
- Ordinance No. 73/17 of 22 May 1973 on the organisation of social insurance which entrusted to the National Social Insurance Fund as part of the general policy of the Government, the service of various benefits provided by the legislation of the social protection;
- Law No. 77/11 of 13 July 1977 on the compensation and prevention of industrial accidents and occupational diseases, which entrusted the National Social Insurance Fund with the coverage and management of occupational risks, thereby repealing previous legislation resulting from Ordinance 59/100 of 31 December 1959 which entrusted the management of these risks to private insurance companies.