Theories of Labour Welfare

By | March 10, 2017
Theories of Labour Welfare

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Origin and Growth of Labour Welfare

The concept of labour welfare originated in the desire for a humanitarian approach to ameliorate the sufferings of the workers and their families on account of the baneful effects of large-scale industrialization like undesirable social consequences and the labour problems which have evolved in the process of transition from tradition to modernity.  Later it became a utilitarian philosophy which worked as a motivating force for labour and for those who were interested in it.  Lastly, labour welfare received inspiration from the evolution of the social thought in regard to democracy and welfare state.  With such a varied background and changing values, labour welfare and its contents have acquired a kaleidoscopic nature.

The Concept of Labour Welfare

The I.L.O. (SEA) session held at New Delhi in 1947 defined Labour Welfare as “such services, facilities and amenities, which may be established in or in the vicinity of, undertakings to enable persons employed therein to perform their work in healthy, congenial surroundings and to provide them with amenities conducive to good health and good morale.

N.M. Joshi felt that labour welfare “covers all the efforts which employers make for the benefit or their employees over and above the minimum standard of working conditions fixed by Factories Act and over and above the provision of social legislation providing against accident, old age, unemployment and sickness”.

The Committee on Labour Welfare (1969) defined labour welfare to “include such services, facilities and amenities as adequate canteens, rest and recreational facilities, sanitary and medical facilities, arrangements for travel to and from work and for the accommodation of workers employed at a distance from their homes and such other services, amenities, and facilities including social security measures as contribute to improving the conditions under which workers are employed”.

Scope of Labour Welfare in India

Scope of Labour Welfare: Labour welfare is a dynamic concept which acquires as new dimensions with the changes in the environment of the industry.  It was as early as 1931 that „Whitley Commission observed, “Labour welfare is one which must necessarily be elastic, bearing a somewhat different interpretation in one country from another, according to the different social customs, the degree of industrialization and the educational development of the workers”.

The Study Team, appointed by the Government of India in 1959 to examine labour welfare activities then existing, divided the entire range of these activities into three groups, viz.,

  • Welfare within the precincts of an establishment: medical aid, crèches, canteens, the supply of drinking water, etc.,
  • Welfare outside the establishment: provision for indoor and outdoor recreation, housing, adult education, visual instructions, etc.
  • Social security.

Welfare Services

Types of Welfare Services:  The Committee of Experts on Welfare Facilities for Industrial Workers set up by the ILO in 1963 divided welfare services into two groups –

  1. Within the precincts of the establishment and
  2. Outside the establishment.

  1. Intramural: Welfare amenities within the precincts of the establishment (intramural) such as latrines and urinals; washing and bathing facilities; crèches, rest shelters and canteens, arrangements for drinking water, arrangements for prevention of fatigue, health services including occupation safety, administrative arrangements to look artery uniform and protective clothing and shift allowances.
  2. Extramural: Welfare amenities outside the establishment such as maternity benefits, social insurance measures including gratuity, pension, provident fund and rehabilitation, benevolent funds; medical facilities including programmes for physical fitness and efficiency; family planning and child welfare; education facilities including adult education; housing facilities; recreational facilities including sports, cultural activities, library and reading room, holiday homes and leave travel facilities; workers cooperative stores, fair price shops and cooperative thrift and credit societies; vocational training for dependents of workers; welfare programmes for the welfare of women, youth and children; and transport to and from the place of work.

Importance of Labour Welfare

The basic objective of labour welfare is to enable workers to live a richer and more satisfactory life.  Labour welfare is in the interest of the labour, the employer and the society as a whole.  The main benefits of the employee welfare services have been discussed hereunder.

  1. Benefits to the Workers: The usefulness of welfare need not be overemphasized. For instance, the provision of welfare measures such as good housing, canteens medical facilities etc, makes the workers realize that they have some stake in the undertaking in which they are employed and so they think thrice before taking any reckless action, which might prejudice the interest of the undertaking.
  2. Benefits to employers: The provision of welfare facilities is not only beneficial to workers but also to employers in several ways. For instance, the provision of welfare facilities helps in increasing employee productivity by improving their physical and psychological health.  Besides this, it helps in improving the goodwill and public image of the enterprise.  It also helps in improving good industrial relations and industrial peace
  3. Benefits to the Society Labour / Employee: welfare is also in the interest of larger society because the health, efficiency, and happiness of each individual represent the general well-being of all. Well-housed, well-fed and well-looked after labour is not only an asset to the employer but also serves to raise the standards of the industry.

Theories of Labour Welfare

The theories of labour welfare reflect the evolution of the concept of welfare. Earlier, the Government had to compel the industrial organizations to provide basic amenities to their employees. Such compulsion was necessary because the employers used to exploit the labour and treated them in an unfair manner. With the passage of time, the concept of welfare has undergone changes.  Progressive managements today provide welfare facilities voluntarily and with enlightened willingness and enthusiasm.  In fact, welfare facilities are no longer restricted to workers alone but also extended to social welfare also.  In this regard, a brief description of the various theories of employee welfare has been outlined hereunder.

  1. The Police Theory
  2. The Religious Theory of
  3. The Philanthropic Theory
  4. The Trusteeship Theory
  5. The Placating Theory
  6. The Public Relations Theory
  7. The Functional Theory

1.The Police Theory: The police theory is based on the contention that a minimum standard of welfare is necessary for labourers. Apparently, this theory assumes that man is selfish and self-centred, and always tries to achieve his own ends, even at the cost of the welfare of others.  If wealth or authority or both help him to be in an advantageous position, he uses it for his own advantage, exploiting those who are under him.  According to this theory, owners and managers of industrial undertakings get many opportunities for this kind of exploitation.  The welfare state has to prevent this kind of exploitation and coerce the industrialists to offer a minimum standard of welfare to their workers

2. The Religious Theory: This theory is based on the concept that man is essential “a religious animal”. Even today, many acts of men are related to religious sentiments and beliefs.  These religious feelings, sometimes, prompt an employer to take up welfare activities in the expectation of future benefit, either in this life or in some future life.  According to this theory, any good work is considered as“Investment”.  In this case, both benefactor and the beneficiary are rewarded. Many trusts and charitable institutions in India function on the basis of this belief.

Another aspect of religious theory is the atonement aspect.  Some people take up welfare work in a spirit of atonement for their sins.  Thus, the benevolent acts of welfare are treated either as an investment or an atonement.  According to this theory, man is primarily concerned with his own welfare and only secondarily with the welfare of others. The religious basis of welfare, however, can not be rational.

3. The Philanthropic Theory: This theory is based on man’s love for mankind. In Greek, ‘philo’ means love of and ‘anthropes’ means man. So philanthropic means loving mankind. Man is believed to have an instinctive urge by which he strives to remove the sufferings of others and promote their well-being. This drive may be a rather powerful one and may impel him to perform noble sacrifices.  When some employers have compassion for their fellowmen, they may undertake labour welfare measures for the benefit of their workers.

4. Trusteeship Theory: This is also called the paternalistic theory of labour welfare, according to which “the industrialist or employer holds the total industrial estate, properties and profits”. These properties and profits, he uses for himself, for the benefit of his workers and also for society. Workers are like minors. They are ignorant because of lack of education and are not able to look after their own interests.

5. The Placating Theory: This theory is based on the fact that labour groups are becoming more militant and are conscious of their rights and privileges than ever before. Their demand for higher wages and better standards can not be ignored. According to this theory, timely and periodical acts of labour welfare can appease the workers. They are some kind of pacifiers by way of friendly gestures.  Sincerity may be lacking in these programs.  Psychologically this theory is unsound, though it has often been acted upon to secure the worker’s cooperation.

6. The Public Relations Theory: This theory provides the basis for an atmosphere of goodwill between labour and management and also between management and the public. Labour welfare programs, under this theory, work as a sort of an advertisement and help an industrialist to build up good and healthy public relations. This theory is based on the assumption that the labour welfare movement may be utilized to improve relations between management and labour.

7. The Functional Theory: This is also called Efficiency Theory. Here, welfare work is used as a means to secure, preserve and develop the efficiency and productivity of labour. It is obvious that if an employer takes good care of his workers, they will tend to become more efficient and thereby they step up production.  But all this will depend on a healthy collaboration between union and management and their mutual concern for the growth and development of the organization.

Conclusion

Labour welfare and job satisfaction are two dimensions that are important to ensure industrial peace, excellent industrial relations and progress of the nation. Labour welfare facilities provided by employers are based on diverse approaches and connected to various theories. Job satisfaction is influenced by different factors, which determine the level of satisfaction employees will experience at the workplace. Job satisfaction also rests on certain theories and is influenced by different schools of thought.

The job is satisfying when there is a match between the characteristics of the job and the needs of the individual. Labour welfare facilities can bring about the fulfilment of employees’ expectations and thus promote job satisfaction.

The present research is an attempt to determine the relationship between labour welfare facilities provided and job satisfaction experienced by employees in pharmaceutical companies in Goa. It will also draw a comparison of the labour welfare facilities provided and the extent of job satisfaction experienced between the Indian and multinational.


Bibliography

  1. Misra S.N., ”Labour & Industrial Laws”, Central Law Publications, Allahabad, 27th Edition, 2014.
  2. Chaudhary A.N., “Industrial Dispute Act”, Central Law Publications, Allahabad, 14th Edition, 2011.

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