Decree on Social Insurance

Written: October 31/November 13, 1917
First Published: Sobranie Uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Rabochego i Krestianskogo Pravitelstva, 1917, No. 2, p. 20.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, The Bolshevik revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and materials, Stanford University Press; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934, p. 308.
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: 2017

The Russian proletariat has placed on its banners "Full Social Insurance for Wage Workers" as well as for the city and village poor. The tsarist government of landowners and capitalists and the coalition-reconciliation governments [Provisional Government] failed to satisfy the demands of the workers in this respect.

The Workers' and Peasants' Government, being supported by the Soviet of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies, announces to the working class of Russia and to the city and village poor that it will immediately prepare decrees on social insurance in accordance with the ideas of the workers.

1. Insurance for all wage workers without exception, as well as for the city and village poor.

2. Insurance to cover all forms of disability, such as illness, injury, invalidism, old age, maternity, widowhood, orphanage, as well as unemployment.

3. The total cost of the insurance to be borne by the employer.

4. Full compensation in case of disability or unemployment.

5. The insured to have full control of the insurance institutions.[1]

In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic,


People's Commissar of Labor


[1] During the following weeks the government issued several decrees regulating the various forms of disability and unemployment insurance. French translations of some of these decrees are given in Labry, Une legislation communiste. Recueil des lois, decrets, arretes principaux du gouvernement bolcheviste, Paris, 1920, pp. 251-57. Private insurance companies were not nationalized until later.