Approaches to Employee Welfare15/09/2022 0 By indiafreenotes
Approaches to employee welfare refer to the beliefs and attitudes held by agencies which provide welfare facilities. Some agencies provide welfare facilities inspired by religious faith, others as a philanthropic duty and the like.
The various approaches to labour welfare reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the agencies which are engaged in welfare activities. Welfare facilities may be provided on religious, philanthropic or some other grounds. Moreover, the different approaches to labour welfare reflect the evolution of the concept of welfare. In bygone days, the government of the land had to compel the owner of an industrial establishment to provide such basic amenities as canteens, rest rooms, drinking water, good working conditions, and so forth, for their employees. Such compulsion was necessary because the employer believed in exploiting labour and treating it in an unfair manner. But times have changed, and the concept of welfare, too, has undergone changes.
Many progressive managements today provide welfare facilities, voluntarily and with enlightened willingness and enthusiasm. In fact, welfare facilities are not restricted to the workers alone. They have now been extended to the society in general. In other words, labour welfare has been extended to include social welfare. Tata Steel Works at Jamshedpur, for example, spends Rs 10 crore each year on social welfare. Brooke Bond have set up a free animal welfare clinic at Gevrai, Aurangabad, under the direct charge of a qualified veterinary doctor. Jindal Aluminium, Bangalore, maintains the famous Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences Centre and a public school for the benefit of the public. The Jindal Scholarship Trust has been set up, under which deserving students are given scholarships. The Hindustan Machine Tools has a big playground and a community hall, which are let out for competitions and functions.
A study of the approaches to labour welfare is desirable for the management, the workers and the general reader. For the general reader, a study of approaches is essential because his/her knowledge of the subject is incomplete without knowledge of these approaches, and a knowledge of approaches enables the manager and the worker to have a better perspective on welfare work.
The approaches and their brief descriptions are:
The religion theory has two connotations, namely, the investment and atonement aspects. The investment aspect of the religion theory implies that the fruits of today’s deeds will be reaped tomorrow. Any action, good or bad. is therefore treated as an investment. Inspired by this belief, some employers plan and organise canteens and creches. The atonement aspect of the religion theory implies that the present disabilities of a person are the result of the sins committed by him/her previously. He/she should undertake to do good deeds now to atone or compensate for his/her sins. There is the story of a big Jain employer who firmly held the belief that the provision of welfare facilities for workers was outside the duties of the management. Whatever he did provide was under government compulsion and supervision. It so happened, however, that the children born to him died as soon as they were born. Later, his own health suffered. He felt that, as a compensation, or expiration or even as an investment in a good deed (punyam), he should liberally contribute to the creche in the factory (as well as to other child-welfare institutions), and also to medical services for his workers. Consequently, in this particular factory, there came to exist an excellent creche and a well-organised dispensary.
According to this view, the factory and other industrial workplaces provide ample opportunities for owners and managers of capital to exploit workers in an unfair manner. This could be done by making the labour work for long hours, by paying workers low wages, by keeping the workplaces in an unhygienic condition, by neglecting safety and health provisions, and by ignoring the provision of elementary human amenities, such as drinking water, latrines, rest rooms and canteens. Clearly, a welfare state cannot remain a passive spectator of this limitless exploitation. It enacts legislation under which managements are compelled to provide basic amenities to the workers. In short, the state assumes the role of a policeman, and compels the managers of industrial establishments to provide welfare facilities, and punishes the non-complier. This is the policing theory of labour welfare.
Philanthropy means affection for mankind. The philanthropic theory of labour welfare refers to the provision of good working conditions, creches and canteens out of pity on the part of the employers who want to remove the disabilities of the workers. Robert Owen of England was a philanthropic employer, who worked for the welfare of his workers. The philanthropic theory is more common in social welfare. Student hostels, drinking water facilities, the rehabilitation of crippled persons, donations to religious and educational institutions, and so forth are examples of philanthropic deeds.
According to the paternalistic theory, also called the trusteeship theory, of labour welfare, the industrialist or the employer holds the total industrial estate, properties and the profits accruing from them, in trust. The property which he/she can use or abuse as he/she likes is not entirely his/her own. He/she holds it for his/her use, no doubt, but also for the benefit of his/her workers, if not for the whole society. For several reasons, such as low wages, lack of education, and so forth the workers are at present unable to take care of themselves. They are, therefore, like minors, and the employers should provide for their well-being out of funds in their control. The trusteeship is not actual and legal, but it is moral and, therefore, not less real.
This theory is based on the assumption that appeasement pays when the workers are organised and are militant. Peace can be bought by welfare measures. Workers are like children who are intelligent, but not fully so. As crying children are pacified by sweets, workers should be pleased by welfare works.
Public Relations Theory
According to this theory, welfare activities are provided to create a good impression on the minds of the workers and the public, particularly the latter. Clean and safe working conditions, a good canteen, creche and other amenities, make a good impression on the workers, visitors and the public. Some employers proudly take their visitors round the plant to show how well they have organised their welfare activities.
The social obligation of an industrial establishment has been assuming great significance these days. The social theory implies that a factory is morally bound to improve the conditions of the society besides improving the condition of its employees. Labour welfare, as mentioned earlier, is gradually becoming social welfare.
Also known as the efficiency theory of labour welfare, the functional theory implies that welfare facilities are provided to make the workers more efficient. If workers are fed properly, clothed adequately and treated kindly, and if the conditions of their work are congenial, they will work efficiently. Welfare work is a means of securing, preserving and increasing the efficiency of labour.