About - Creation of the Scheme


The National Insurance Scheme, which seeks to reinforce the principle of “mutual solidarity”, recognises that Barbados’ greatest asset is its people.

Trace its birth and growth over the years here.

General features

June 5, 1967 – Social security scheme set up in Barbados, Contributions paid by sticking stamps to contribution cards of insured persons

1978 – Stamp method replaced by direct payment, Contributions paid in cash to the National Insurance Office

January 1987 – Contribution card system replaced with Contribution Certificates and Earnings Schedules, Benefits Evolve Date Benefit

1971 – Employment injury benefit introduced

1971 – Self-employed became insurable for long-term benefits – invalidity, survivors’ and old age contributory and funeral grants

1974 – Coverage for the self-employed extended to include sickness and maternity benefits

1975 – Minimum pension introduced – $15 a week

1975 – Spouses of insured persons receive funeral grants

1977 – Age at which surviving spouse could qualify for survivors’ pension for life was reduced from 55 to 50

1981 – Rate of Sickness Benefit increased from 60% to 66 2/3% of insurable earnings

July 1981 – Unemployment scheme introduced

July 1982 – Eligible persons begin to receive unemployment benefit

1982 – National Insurance Department becomes responsible for Non-contributory Old Age pension instead of Welfare Department

1985 – Age at which surviving children could receive survivors’ pension was increased from 16 to 21 once they were students

1985 – Maternity Grant introduced

1990 – Minimum pension increased over the years to $76 a week

1991 – Rate of unemployment benefit was changed to 60% for first 10 weeks and 40% for remaining 16 weeks

2003 – The pension system was reformed providing a flexible retirement age, annual increases (indexation), and an increase in the pensionable age.

Part of the scheme

Once you are employed or self-employed, or between 16 and pensionable age, you are part of the National Insurance Scheme.

There are some exceptions though –
non citizens who are:

• heads or members of diplomatic missions (or consular officers or employees)

• employed by an international organisation of which Barbados is a member (unless you’re a domestic worker)

For a more detailed historical background including statistics and investment information, view the 50 page Historical Overview