WELFARE MEASURES UNDER THE FACTORIES ACT, 1948
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The term ‘Labour Welfare’ refers to the facilities provided to workers in and outside the factory premises such as canteens, rest and recreation facilities, housing and all other services that contribute to the wellbeing of workers. Welfare measures are concerned with general well being and efficiency of workers. In the early stages of industrialization, welfare activities for factory workers did not receive adequate attention. Employers were not inclined to accept the financial burden of welfare activities. Wherever employers provided for such amenities, it was more with a paternalistic approach to labour rather than recognition of workers’ needs. Hence the state had to intervene, in discharge of its welfare responsibility, by using its persuasive powers and/or by enforcing legislation, where persuasion failed. Compulsory provisions are thus incorporated in the Factories Act, 1948 with respect to the health, safety and welfare of workers engaged in the manufacturing process.
The welfare measures involve three major aspects which are - occupational health care, suitable working time and appropriate salary. It refers to the physical, mental, moral, and emotional well-being of an individual. The safe work environment provides the basis for the person to enjoy working. The work should not pose a health hazard for the person. The welfare measures aim at integrating the socio-psychological needs of employees, the unique requirements of a particular technology, the structure and processes of the organization and the existing socio-cultural environment. It creates a culture of work commitment in organizations and society which ensure higher productivity and greater job satisfaction to the employees. The welfare measures are defined in the same way as defined by the I.L.O. at its Asian Regional Conference "A term which is understood to include such services, facilities and amenities as may be established in or in the vicinity of undertakings to enable the persons employed in them to perform their work in healthy, congenial surroundings and to provide them with amenities conducive to good health and high morale."
HEALTH OF FACTORY WORKERS
Health is a component of welfare. The declared aim of the Government is to usher in a Welfare State. In such a Welfare state, there shall be no place for the “five giants” namely poverty, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. To increase the welfare or “level of living” is the general goal of social policy.
The Constitution of India envisages that the State shall direct its policy towards securing
• that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength
• that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
• The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want.
• The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
Sufficient number of spittoons must be provided in every factory and maintained in clean and hygienic condition. No person shall spit within the premises of a factory except in the spittoons. A notice containing this provision and the penalty for its violation shall be prominently displayed at suitable places in the factory premises.
These provisions described above are not categorized as welfare provisions, but they can be classified as the same due to the welfare nature of the same. They not only provide against sickness, but also ensure availability of a physically fit and stable manpower for economic development. This is, keeping in mind, the definition of health as given by the W.H.O. as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. Health and medical care are broad terms embracing the economic, social and emotional life of a man. Expenditure on medical facilities yields is an excellent investment with immediate returns, if not through increased productivity, at least through reduction in absenteeism on grounds of sickness and ill health.
Labor welfare facilities are those which result in improving the conditions under which workers are employed and work. These include not only the health but also welfare measures adopted for the benefit of the workers. The Factories Act, 1948 has provided for certain health and welfare measures for workers working in factories in India. Health facilities provided in factories for workers include provision for cleanliness of the factory premises, disposal of wastes and effluents, ventilation and temperature, dust and fumes, artificial humidification, overcrowding, lighting, drinking water, latrines and urinals and spittoons. Welfare facilities for workers include adequate washing facilities, facilities for storing and drying clothing, sitting facility, first-aid, and canteen facility; and facilities for shelters, rest rooms, lunch rooms and creches. Welfare amenities provided to workers outside the factory premises include medical and retirement benefits, housing and educational facilities, recreational facilities, holiday homes and leave travel facilities and transportation facility to and from the place of work.