1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Labour Legislation
LABOUR LEGISLATION (see 16.7).—The decade 1910–20 was very productive of labour legislation, partly the natural outcome of years of agitation and the growing political power of Labour, and partly the result of the strong economic position in which Labour found itself as a result of the World War and the change of spirit which developed during it. While important progress has been made in connexion with the regulation of the conditions of employment of women, young persons and children, labour legislation has also advanced largely in new directions, such as the limitation of the hours of employment of all classes of workpeople, the fixing of minimum rates of wages for badly paid industries, and the development of social measures such as insurance against sickness, accident or unemployment. One of the most interesting developments, and one which may have far-reaching results, has been the movement towards international labour legislation.
The tendency towards uniformity in industrial conditions in the principal countries, and the world-wide increased economic and political power of the working-classes, had already resulted in a series of industrial laws in the various countries, very broadly on uniform lines. It would appear that Switzerland, in 1876, was the first country to invoke the aid of European diplomacy with a view to international labour legislation. Following on conferences in regard to international labour legislation held at Berlin in 1890, at Zürich in 1897, and at Paris in 1900, there was established in 1901 the International Association for Labour Legislation. By the international treaties of Berne of 1906, the use of white phosphorus in the match industry was forbidden in the interests of the health of the workers, and a night rest of 11 hours secured for female industrial workers.
A development in this direction, so great as to constitute a new era, came with the labour provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. These, together with the subsequent history of the International Labour Office set up under the treaty, are dealt with in the article on International Labour Organization.
A series of Acts extending over more than a century had prescribed in the United Kingdom a detailed code for the protection of workers in factories, mines and shops, and especially for the protection of women, young persons and children. Labour legislation was tending strongly in new directions before the World War. Except for war purposes it was temporarily interrupted, but the importance which labour legislation had reached is indicated by the establishment of a separate Ministry of Labour (see Labour Ministry) by the New Ministries and Secretaries Act, 1916.
Before proceeding to a more detailed statement of the various Acts concerning labour that were placed on the statute book between 1910 and 1921, reference may be made to the point emphasized by Prof. Tillyard, that legislation in England is so usually associated with Parliament and with Parliament alone, that it may not be generally realized that, taking into consideration quantity only and disregarding importance, probably the larger part of existing enactments regarding labour have not been directly passed by Parliament but are the creation of inferior bodies to whom law-making powers have been delegated. The reason is that industrial legislation in many cases can hope to be successful only on condition that complicated details are patiently investigated and interested persons listened to. Parliament has of late years become more and more content to settle principles, and to leave detailed decisions and the working- out of extensions to other bodies, reserving to itself a varying amount of ultimate control. This legislation by inferior law-making bodies takes several forms:
(a) Provisional Orders, made by Government departments and having the force of law provided they are expressly sanctioned by Parliament, e.g. under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906;
(b) Statutory Orders, made by Government departments and requiring to be laid before Parliament for varying periods, but taking effect unless Parliament actively intervenes, e.g. under the Factory Acts;
(c) Determinations such as those under the Trade Boards Acts dealing with wages to be paid in specified trades;
(d) Legislation by local by-laws made by local authorities in exercise of the permissive powers bestowed by Act of Parliament.
Women and Children.—As regards recent legislation on the subject of the employment of women, young persons and children, it is to be observed that important measures regarding the employment of children were embodied in the Education Act, 1918, which consolidated and amended the various Acts relating to the national system of public education. But, owing to financial exigencies, the operation of several provisions of this Act was postponed in 1920–1.
Under the Act, subject to specified exceptions, no exemption from school attendance may be granted to any child between the ages of 5 and 14 years, and 15 years is substituted for 14 years as the normal elementary school-leaving age. Subject to certain conditions, all young persons are required to attend continuation schools for a specified number of hours in each year, at such times or on such days as the local education authority may require; and the local education authority may require, in the case of young persons who are under an obligation to attend a continuation school, that their employment shall be suspended on any day when their school attendance is required. The Employment of Children Act, 1903, is also amended so that a child under the age of 12 may not be employed, and a child of the age of 12 or upwards may not be employed on any Sunday for more than 2 hours, or on any day on which such child is required to attend school before the close of school hours on that day, nor on any day before 6 o'clock in the morning or after 8 o'clock in the evening. By a further amendment of the Act of 1903, the employment of children in street trading is prohibited, and certain amendments are made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, 1904, in so far as that Act deals with the employment of children for the purpose of singing, playing or performing, or being exhibited for profit or offering anything for sale. The local education authority may further, if they are satisfied by a report of the school medical officer or otherwise, that any child is being employed in such a manner as to be prejudicial to his health or development or as to render him unfit to obtain the proper benefit from his education, either prohibit or attach such conditions as they think fit to his employment. No child (which expression is defined to mean any child up to the age when his parents cease to be under an obligation to cause him to receive efficient elementary instruction or to attend school under the enactments relating to elementary education and the by-laws made thereunder) may be employed in any factory or workshop to which the Factory and Workshop Acts, 1901 to 1911, apply: or in any mine to which the Coal Mines Act, 1911, applies: or in any mine or quarry to which the Metalliferous Mines Acts, 1872 and 1875, apply: unless lawfully so employed when the Education Act becomes operative. The Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, is broadly on the same lines, although it differs in details.
A further important step was taken by the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act, 1920.
Its main purpose was to give legislative ratification in the United Kingdom (a) to three draft conventions adopted at Washington by the first session of the General Conference of the International Labour Organization of the League of Nations, fixing 14 as the minimum age for the admission of children to industrial employment, and prohibiting, with certain exceptions, night-work in industrial undertakings by young persons under the age of 18 and by all women without distinction of age, and (b) to the draft convention fixing the minimum age for the admission of children to employment at sea, adopted at Genoa by the second session of the General Conference. The Act also contains a section permitting double shifts (averaging each not more than 8 hours per day) for women and young persons between the hours of 6 A.M. and 10 P.M., subject to any conditions which the Secretary of State may prescribe. The object of this section was to continue the powers of the Home Secretary in this respect which, in the emergency of the war, he had exercised under section 150 of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, as extended by Defence of the Realm Regulation No. 6, A. The provisions of the clause aroused considerable opposition, and, during the progress of the bill through Parliament, a departmental committee was appointed to inquire into the whole question of allowing women and young persons to be employed on the system of two-day shifts. The committee decided generally that the Home Office should retain its existing power of deciding in which cases the adoption of the system should be allowed, and that for this purpose the adoption of the system in any works should be dependent upon the issue of a Home Office Order and subject to such conditions to secure the welfare of the workers as might be attached by the Home Office. The relevant section of the Act also provides that the Secretary of State may not make an order in any industry if objection is jointly made by organizations representing the majority of employers and workers in the industry; the section and orders made thereunder are to remain in force for a period of five years and no longer.
The Women and Young Persons (Employment in Lead Processes) Act, 1920, prohibited the employment of women and young persons in certain processes connected with lead manufacture, and regulated their employment in certain processes involving the use of lead compounds in accordance with the recommendation of the Washington Conference concerning lead-poisoning.
Hours.—In addition to the above special measures concerning the employment of women, young persons and children, a bill was introduced in 1921 by the Minister of Labour, providing, subject to certain necessary exceptions and conditions, for the establishment of a maximum working week of 48 hours. A measure for this purpose was recommended by the provisional joint committee appointed by a National Industrial Conference of employers and workpeople held in Feb. 1919, to consider means for removing the existing labour unrest, and by the Washington General Conference. The terms of the bill were still under discussion in 1921. Hours of employment in the coal-mining industry and in shops have been regulated by special measures. (See Hours of Labour.)
Coal-Mines.—The coal-mining industry has been the subject of a number of special laws, which may be accounted for by the vital position which the industry holds in the economic life of the community, the strong organization of the workers, and the exceptional conditions under which the work has to be carried on. The Coal Mines Act, 1911, amended slightly by the Coal Mines Act, 1914, consolidated the existing law relative to coal-mines. The Act deals with management (certificates of competency, etc.); provisions as to safety, health, accidents; employment of boys, girls and women; prohibition of payment of wages in licensed premises and provision as to weekly payment of wages; inspectors, etc. It did not, however, amend the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, relating to the 8-hour day, nor such part of existing legislation as related to checkweighing. In 1912 the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act was passed to terminate a general strike of coal-miners and provided that certain district minimum rates, fixed by district boards under the Act, should form part of the terms of contract of every person employed underground in a coal-mine.
During the World War the Government assumed control of the coal-mines. Early in 1919 the Coal Industry Commission Act was passed, in connexion with a threatened general strike of coal-miners, to enable the Government to set up a commission to inquire into the condition of the industry. In accordance with an interim report of this commission, the Coal Mines Act, 1919, was passed, providing for a reduction, as from July 16 1919, of the hours of labour of coal-mine workers below ground from 8 to 7 per day, and making provision, contingent upon the condition of the industry, for a further reduction in 1921.
The Mining Industry Act, 1920, established the Mines Department of the Board of Trade for the exercise of the powers of that department and also of the transferred powers of the Secretary of State relating to mines and quarries.
This Act authorized the Board of Trade, for a period of one year from Aug. 31 1920, to issue directions regulating the export of coal and the supply of coal for the bunkering of vessels, and regulating the pithead price to be charged for coal sold for consumption in the British Isles and for the bunkering of vessels other than vessels proceeding to ports outside the British Isles. While any such directions are operative, the Board of Trade can also give directions as to the wages to be paid to workers in coal-mines and to regulate the distribution of profits on principles similar to those shown in the Coal Mines (Emergency) Act, 1920, so as to secure as far as practicable an equitable distribution as between the different collieries.
The Act further provides for the constitution of (a) Pit Committees for each coal-mine where a resolution in favour thereof is passed by the majority of the workers employed in or about the mine; (b) District Committees; (c) Area Boards, and (d) a National Board. Pit committees consist of representatives, not exceeding 10 in number, of the owners and management of the mine and the workers employed in or about the mine, selected by ballot. The functions of a pit committee are to discuss and make recommendations with respect to (a) the safety, health and welfare of the workers in connexion with their work in the mine; (b) the maintenance and increase of output; (c) reports made on an inspection under section 16 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, which reports shall be referred to the committee by the manager; (d) disputes arising in connexion with the mine, including disputes as to wages; and (e) any other questions and matters relative to the mine which may be prescribed by the regulations to be drawn up by the Board of Trade. Any matters which cannot be satisfactorily disposed of by a pit committee are to be referred to the appropriate district committee, or, in the case of questions to which the Coal Mines Act (1911) applies, to the inspector of the division. To enable a pit committee to exercise its functions on the first two points indicated above, it is required that the committee should be furnished by the manager of the mine with such relevant information as may be necessary for its purpose and may appoint members to make periodical inspections of the mine.
The district committees and the area boards, which likewise consist of representatives of the owners and the management and an equal number of representatives of the workers, consider questions of a similar nature; a district committee is also required to consider any matter referred to them by a pit committee or by the area board or the Board of Trade, and the area board is required to consider any questions which may be referred to it by a district committee or by the national board or the Board of Trade. An area board is in addition required to formulate, at such intervals and on such principles as may be prescribed by the national board, schemes for adjusting the remuneration of the workers within the area; the Board of Trade may by regulation provide for district committees or area boards determining any question and exercising any powers which, before the passing of this Act, were determined or exercised by a conciliation board or by a joint district board constituted under the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, 1912.
The national board, which is equally representative of owners and workpeople, is required to take into consideration questions, including wages questions, affecting the coal-mining industry as a whole, any questions which may be referred to them by an area board, and any questions which may be referred to them by the Board of Trade. The national board is also to determine, subject to the approval of the Board of Trade, the principles on which schemes by area boards for adjusting the remuneration of workers are to be framed. Where any recommendation made by a district committee or area board or by the national board, or any scheme made by an area board and approved by the national board, has been forwarded or referred to the Board of Trade, the Board of Trade may give directions requiring any person engaged in the coal-mining industry to comply therewith.
A further provision of the Act requires the constitution of a fund to be applied to such purposes connected with the social well-being, recreation and conditions of living of workers in or about coal-mines, and with mining education and research, as the Board of Trade, after consultation with any Government department concerned, may approve; and the owners of every coal-mine are required for a period of six years to pay a sum equal to 1d. a ton of the output of the mine for the creation of such a fund.
Shops.—Further legislation has been enacted in regard to employment in shops. The Shops Regulation Acts, 1892–1911, were consolidated by the Shops Act, 1912, which contains various provisions for protecting shop assistants.
The Act requires inter alia that, on at least one weekday in each week, a shop assistant may not be employed about the business of the shop after 1:30 P.M.; it contains requirements as to intervals for meals, and further requires that no person under the age of 18 years is to be employed in or about a shop for a longer period than 74 hours (including meal times) in any one week. Besides these provisions, the Act contains provisions under which every shop, save for exceptions allowed by the Act, must be closed for the serving of customers not later than 1 P.M. on one weekday in every week; closing orders may also be made fixing the hours on the several days of the week at which, either throughout the area of a local authority or in any specified part thereof, all shops or shops of any specified class are to be closed for the serving of customers, but the hours fixed by the closing order may not be earlier than 7 P.M. on any day.
The Shops Act, 1913, amended the Act of 1912 in its application to premises for the sale of refreshments. The Shops (Early Closing) Act, 1920, continues Regulation 10 B. of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, as amended, and requires that, subject to certain specified exceptions, every shop shall be closed for the serving of customers not later than 8 o'clock in the evening on every day other than Saturday and not later than 9 o'clock in the evening on Saturday.
Minimum Wage.—One of the most important developments of labour legislation in recent years has been minimum-wage legislation. Minimum-wage boards had been in existence for some time in Australasia before they were tentatively introduced into the United Kingdom by the Trade Boards Act, 1909, followed by the Trade Boards Act, 1918 (see Trade Boards). The latter empowers the Minister of Labour to extend by Special Order the provisions of the Trade Boards Act, 1909, to other trades, and under its provision trade boards have now been set up in a large number of trades. The Corn Production Act, 1917, extended similar legislation to agriculture. A rather different kind of minimum-wage legislation was that embodied in the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, 1912, which was passed to terminate a general strike of coal-miners in respect of their claims for “individual district minimum rates.” The method of administration of the Act is different from that of the Trade Boards Acts: no inspectorate was appointed, the payment of the minimum rate being part of the workman's contract of service and enforceable in an ordinary court of law.
The Munitions of War Acts, 1915–7, contained provisions which enabled minimum rates of wages to be fixed. These were repealed, however, by the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Act, 1918, the purpose of which was to secure that the standard district rates existing at the date of the Armistice should be continued during the transition period when industry was changing from war to peace conditions. It was extended to Nov. 21 1919 by the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Extension Act, 1919, and the principle of the Acts was continued up to Sept. 30 1920 by the Industrial Courts Act, 1920. In connexion with this subject it should be recorded that the Industrial Conference of 1919 recommended the enforcement by legal enactment of minimum time rates of wages to be of universal applicability.
Old Age and Sickness.—For an account of the recent considerable developments in the United Kingdom in connexion with unemployment insurance, see Unemployment. Legislation of widespread social importance has been undertaken in a series of measures designed to relieve distress arising from old age or sickness. The Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, under which, subject to certain conditions as to means of support, etc., a pension at the rate of 5s. per week became payable to persons who had attained the age of 70, was preliminary to the National Health Insurance Act of 1911, which instituted, with certain specified exceptions, a universal scheme of compulsory insurance against sickness. Contributions are payable by the insured person and by the employer, and, in return the insured person receives certain benefits. These benefits in the main are:—
(1) Sickness benefit, i.e. a periodical money payment to the insured person while rendered incapable of work by some specified disease, either bodily or mental;
(2) Disablement benefit, i.e. a periodical payment after the right to sickness benefit has been exhausted, and continuing so long as the incapacity continues;
(3) Maternity benefit, being a lump-sum payment in the case of the confinement of an insured woman, or the wife or widow of an insured man;
(4) Medical benefit, being medical treatment and attendance and the provision of medicine and of prescribed medical and surgical appliances; and
(5) Sanatorium benefit, being the treatment of persons suffering from tuberculosis or any other disease specified by the Ministry of Health.
Sickness and disablement benefits cease when the insured person reaches the age of seventy. The Act is administered largely through approved societies, these being principally friendly societies, trade unions, and industrial insurance societies.
The Old Age Pensions Act was amended in certain respects in 1911 and the National Insurance Act in 1913, 1914, 1915, 1917, and 1918. As a result of the war, certain other amendments became necessary in order to bring the rates of money contributions and benefits into closer relationship with the lessened value of money and the higher cost of living. During the latter part of the war, additional allowances were paid in view of the increased cost of living: the Old Age Pensions Act, 1919, increased the weekly sum to 10s. per week and made various other amendments to earlier Acts.
It may also be noted that the Blind Persons Act, 1920, provides that every blind person who has attained the age of 50 shall be entitled to such pension as, under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908–19, he would be entitled to receive if he had attained the age of 70. In the case of the health insurance scheme, the National Health Insurance Act, 1919, increased from £160 to £250 per annum the rate of remuneration for the purpose of exemption from insurance; and the National Health Insurance Act, 1920, amended the scales of weekly contributions and benefits.
Workmen's Compensation..—Reference may also be made to the Acts dealing with compensation to workpeople in the event of accidents which occur notwithstanding the preventive measures required by the Factory and Workshops Acts, Coal Mines Regulation Acts, Railway Employment (Prevention of Accidents) Act, Merchant Shipping Acts and kindred legislation.
Originally, under the common law of England, all workmen suffering injury, as the result of the negligence or wilful act or omission of an employer, might sue for damages. Lord Campbell's Act of 1846 introduced an improvement whereby, if the injury resulted in death, relatives of a specified relationship might bring an action; previously the right to bring an action had been deemed to die with the injured person. The Employers' Liability Act of 1880 introduced further changes, as also did the Workmen's Compensation Acts of 1897 and 1900, which were repealed by the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906 under which any injured workman (or his relatives in case of death) can recover compensation from the employer, if the accident arises out of and in the course of his employment. The employer cannot protect himself by proving either contributory negligence or common employment. The amount of compensation is limited to £300 in case of death and £1 per week in case of injury.
Amendments in details were made by Acts of 1918, and as a result of the fall in the value of money brought about by the war, the Workmen's Compensation (War Addition) Act, 1917, increased the compensation payable in the event of total incapacity by 25% and the Workmen's Compensation (War Addition) Amendment Act, 1919, again increased it by 50%, making the maximum allowance 35s.
Another step necessitated by the war was the Disabled Men (Facilities for Employment) Act, 1919, which enables arrangements to be made to relieve or indemnify an employer in respect of the whole or part of any increase of expenditure arising from his liability to pay compensation in respect of accidents or industrial disease, where such increase is attributable to the employment of men disabled in the war. It may further be noted that a committee appointed by the Home Secretary presented a report in July 1920, recommending various modifications of the present system and a considerable widening of the scope of the 1906 Act.
Trade Unions.—Recent years have witnessed in the United Kingdom a remarkable growth in the trade-union movement, and also some changes in the legal status of trade unions. Thus, following on the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, the Trade Union Act, 1913, made provisions relative to the application of trade union funds for political purposes, and the Trade Union Amalgamation Act, 1917, amended the Act of 1876 in respect to the amalgamation of trade unions. The growth of the unions has been followed by legislation to meet emergencies in strikes.
The Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, contained a provision whereby a person employed in a gas or water undertaking was liable to penalties if he “wilfully and maliciously breaks a contract of service . . . knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the consequence of his so doing, either alone or in combination with others, will be to deprive the inhabitants of that city, borough, town, place or part, wholly or to a great extent, of their supply of gas or water.” A similar provision was contained in the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, in respect of electrical undertakings. Attention should be called in this connexion also to the Police Act, 1919, which, while it does not directly prohibit strikes in the police forces, adopts an indirect method by forbidding members of the police forces from becoming members of “any Trade Union or of any Association having for its objects, or one of its objects, to control or influence the pay, pensions, or conditions of service of any Police Force.” In the autumn of 1920 the Emergency Powers Act was passed, enabling His Majesty, in the event of action being taken or threatened which would be likely to interfere with the supply or distribution of food, water, fuel or light, or with the means of locomotion, or to deprive the community or any substantial proportion of the community, of the essentials of life, by proclamation to declare the existence of a state of emergency; where such a proclamation has been made it shall be lawful for the Government to make regulations for the preservation of the peace and for securing and regulating the supply of the public necessities.
War Measures.—Reference has been made to some of the special measures necessitated by the World War; these include legislation directly for war purposes, such as the Munitions of War Acts, designed to increase the output of munitions; Defence of the Realm Regulations, such as those concerning incitement to strike; employment of women under the two-shift system, and the closing hours of shops. The war also indirectly necessitated, through the change in the value of money, amendments to the Insurance Acts, Old Age Pensions Act, and Workmen's Compensation Acts.
A war measure to which attention may specially be called is the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act, 1919. In connexion with the steps taken at the beginning of 1915 to increase the output of munitions, the Government held conferences with representatives of a large number of trade unions and came to an understanding known as the “Treasury Agreement,” whereby the unions agreed to relax such trade practices as tended to restrict output of munitions or equipment, on condition that their position in regard to such practices after the war should not be prejudiced by relaxation during the war. Certain provisions in this respect were embodied in the Munitions of War Act, 1915. The Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act, passed in Aug. 1919 (which applied only to establishments in which munitions work was carried on during the war, and to other establishments in which a departure from practice was made in consequence of the Treasury Agreement or in pursuance of some other agreement in writing), provided that the owner of the establishment should be under obligation from Oct. 1919 to restore the trade practice previously obtaining, and to maintain the practice for 12 months. Failure to comply with the obligation rendered him liable to prosecution before a munitions tribunal. In nearly every case the practices were restored where the workpeople so desired.
Miscellaneous.—Among other miscellaneous labour legislation, attention may be called to the following Acts: The Factory and Workshop (Cotton Cloth Factories) Act, 1911, enabled the Secretary of State to make any regulations which he deemed necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the recommendations contained in the second report, dated Jan. 1911, of a committee appointed in 1907 to inquire into the question of humidity and ventilation in cotton-cloth factories. The Checkweighing in Various Industries Act, 1919, provides for “checking the weight or measurement of materials produced, handled or gotten by workmen paid by weight or measure in certain industries,” including the production or manufacture of iron or steel, the loading or unloading of goods into or from vessels, the getting of chalk or limestone from quarries, and the manufacture of cement and lime. Provision is made for the inclusion of other materials by regulation.
Eight-hour Day.—The movement for reduced hours of labour which set in after the signing of the Armistice was world-wide, and, either by way of legislation or by agreement between the representatives of employers and workpeople, the length of the working day formerly in operation has been curtailed in many countries.
In France the Labour Code was amended by a general 8-hour-day law passed in April 1919, and in June the existing legislation as to the length of the working day in the mining industry was amended by extending the 8-hour day to all classes of workpeople, whether employed underground or on the surface. Previously, under a law of Dec. 1913, the limit of 8 hours per day had applied only to workpeople employed underground. In Aug. 1919, a similar limit was enacted for all persons employed in French vessels.
In Germany one of the first enactments of the Provisional Government was a law fixing an 8-hour day for all industrial workers, special arrangements being made to meet the case of transport workers and of those employed in establishments in continuous operation. In Jan. 1919, the German Government issued a new code in respect of agricultural labour, fixing a limit for the hours of labour of agricultural workers—in four months of the year the average hours not to exceed 8 per diem, in four months 10, and in four months 11.
From Nov. 1918 onwards, laws or decrees have also been passed fixing 8 hours per day (or alternatively 48 hours per week) as the normal working time in Switzerland, Holland (45-hour week, i.e. 8-hour day for five days of the week and a half-holiday on Saturday), Denmark (in respect of establishments with continuous working as from the commencement of Jan. 1920), Norway, Sweden, Spain, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, etc. It may, however, be noted that it has been deemed necessary to grant temporary exemptions from the strict statutory application of the 8-hour day in France, Austria and the Netherlands; and in all cases certain exceptions are permitted in respect of national emergency, such as war, accident and unforeseen circumstances, subsidiary and complementary processes requiring to be done before the main work can begin or after it has ceased, adjustment of shifts, seasonal trades, and emergencies, as,
for example, in order to prevent industrial dislocation. Conditions are usually attached to any relaxation of, or exemption from, the normal limit of hours.
In several countries a shorter working day has been introduced by agreement between employers and workpeople, thus anticipating or supplementing legislation on this point. This method has been largely adopted in Italy, the United States, etc. In Australia the 8-hour day, or 48-hour week, has been in operation for many years either by agreement or arbitration award.
Hours of Women and Children.—A great deal was done, in various countries, to improve conditions under this heading during 1910–20 (see also Hours of Labour).
France.—A law dated 1911 amended the law of Nov. 1892, on the labour of women and children in industrial establishments, so as to bring it into accord with the Berne Convention on night-work of women. The provision of the earlier law, prescribing that young persons of less than 18 and women might not be employed between the hours of 9 P.M. and 5 A.M., was retained, and in addition it was laid down that such persons must have not less than 11 consecutive hours of rest at night. In the case of lads and boys working underground in mines and quarries, work might, as before, be authorized from 4 A.M. to 10 P.M., provided that it was divided into two shifts of not more than 9 hours each, broken by an interval of at least one hour. For women over 18 employed in certain trades, to be determined by ordinance and on due notice being given, work might continue up to 10 P.M. (formerly 11 P.M.) at certain periods of the year for not more than 60 days in the year, but in no case must the number of hours worked per day exceed 12. In these trades and in trades in which, under Article 7 of the law of 1892, the restrictions as to the length of the daily hours of labour might be temporarily suspended by ordinance, the consecutive rest period might be reduced to 10 hours. Temporary exemptions might be made in the case of certain industries determined by ordinance, and, as before, permission to work beyond the usual hours, or to shorten the period of nightly rest, might also be granted in the case of stoppages due to accident or unforeseen occurrences. A law of June 1913 was passed for the protection of women workers before and after childbirth. By a law dated 1917, the principle of freedom from work on Saturday afternoons was laid down for women employed in the clothing trades in France. A law dated 1919, and operating as from Oct. 1920, prohibited employment in bakeries between, 10 P.M. and 4 A.M.
Belgium.—A law passed in April 1911 amended the existing laws, and, among other provisions, required the abolition of the underground labour of all females and of males under 14 years of age, as from the beginning of the third year from the date of promulgation. By a law of Aug. 1911, night-work of women and girls was prohibited in industrial establishments in which more than 10 workpeople are employed, and every woman or girl employed in such establishments must be granted not less than 11 consecutive hours of rest at night, this period of rest including the interval from 9 P.M. to 5 A.M. Exceptions were made in the case of seasonal trades, unforeseen circumstances and materials liable to rapid deterioration.
Switzerland.—In 1915, the Swiss Factory Act of 1877, which was amended in certain respects in 1905, was superseded by a new Act. As in the former law, women are forbidden to work at night or on Sundays. A new provision states that the Federal Council is to prescribe the branches of work or particular occupations in which women may not be employed under any circumstances. Women must have a night's rest of at least 11 consecutive hours, including the period from 10 P.M. to 5 A.M.; but by special permission this may be reduced to 10 hours for 60 days in the year, or, when perishable materials are being worked upon, for 140 days. The former law provided that, for a period in all of 8 weeks before and after confinement, wornen should be exempted from work in factories; the later law provides for their exclusion from work in factories for 6 weeks following confinement, which period, at their request, may be extended to 8 weeks. The later law retains the limit of 14 years as the minimum age at which children may be allowed to work in factories, and also the provision forbidding the employment of young persons under 18 at night-work and on Sundays. A new provision states that children under 16 may not be employed upon work where the normal hours are exceeded, and the Federal Council is to prescribe certain branches of industry or certain occupations at which young persons under 16 must not be employed at all. The new law also reduced the length of the working-day in factories from 11 to 10 hours.
Holland.—A royal decree dated Oct. 1911 approved the text of a labour law amending the regulations hitherto in operation governing the employment of young persons and women in industry in the Netherlands. No child under the age of 13 might be employed in an industrial establishment, nor any person over that age not exempt from school attendance. Previously the minimum age of admission had been 12 years. The hours of labour of young persons (defined as those under the age of 17) and women in factories, etc., might not exceed 10 per day or 58 per week (instead of 11 per day as before), nor might these workers be employed, as a general rule, before 6 A.M. or after 7 P.M. (formerly 5 A.M. and 7 P.M.). Women having household duties to perform, and making a declaration to that effect, might not be employed after 1 P.M. on Saturdays; and by ministerial
order no young person or woman might be employed after that hour in any or in certain specified trades. Under a labour law of 1919, any work by children under 14 years of age or by those to whom the Education Act is applicable is prohibited as from July 1921. Young persons (i.e. persons between 14 and 18) are not to work on Sundays, except outside factories, workshops, shops, offices, etc. Young persons may not work outside factories, workshops, shops, etc., between 7 P.M. and 6 A.M.; in shops and in coffee-houses and hotels between 8 P.M. and 8 A.M.; in offices between 6 P.M. and 8 A.M. In factories, workers over 15 may do certain defined work, or work under certain defined conditions, between the hours of 6 P.M. and 10 P.M. and between 5 A.M. and 7 A.M. By royal decree, certain kinds of work, or work under certain conditions to be defined by such decree, may not be done by young persons or women on the ground of its danger to health, morality or life. Women may not work for at least 2 weeks before, and 6 weeks after, confinement.
Norway.—The Norwegian Factory Act of 1909, together with amending laws dated 1910 and 1911, was superseded by a law dated Sept. 1915. With the exception of new provisions relating to daily working hours and night-work, the 1915 Act was practically identical with that of 1909. The most important change introduced by the new clauses is the limitation of the working hours of adults employed in factories, irrespective of sex, to 10 hours per day, or 54 weekly. In the previous law no regulations whatever were included with regard to working hours of adults (defined as persons over 18 years of age). In the case of persons employed in mines (so far as concerns underground work), foundries, and book and newspaper printing works, the hours of labour as a general rule are not to exceed 48 per week. For the first time in Norwegian factory legislation, the law made general regulations as to night-work, which is defined as work performed between the hours of 9 P.M. and 6 A.M. As a rule, special permission is required for night-work, except with regard to adult workers in continuous trades. The provisions as to hours of labour and night-work do not apply to adults employed in stores and warehouses, building works and yards, wharves, loading, and unloading steamships and analogous occupations, or to those employed in handicraft workshops not using mechanical power; nor are adults employed in paper, cellulose and wood-pulp factories, in which work is continuous, affected by the new provision.
Sweden.—A new law for the protection of workpeople, dated 1912, consolidated, completed, and superseded all laws and regulations previously enacted for safeguarding workpeople against accident and other risks of employment, with the exception of (1) the law of Nov. 1909, forbidding the employment of women on night-work in certain trades; (2) the decree of Dec. 1897, regarding the employment of children in public exhibitions; and (3) the decree of Dec. 1896, for the prevention of “phossy jaw.” New provisions for reducing risk of accidents were laid down with special reference to the testing of steam boilers, vats, etc., liable to explode. Among new provisions for ensuring healthy conditions of work may be mentioned the increase of the minimum air-space in workrooms from 247 to 353 cub. ft. per worker. The provisions affecting minors were of a wider character than those contained in the former law regarding these employees. The old law had reference only to those employed in factories or in analogous occupations, whereas the new law was extended to occupations other than those conducted in factories. The age-limit for minors of both sexes imposed by the previous law was 12 years. This was now raised to 13 years for boys and 14 for girls. The old limit was retained for employment other than in factories, e.g. in handicrafts and in shops. The age of minors employed in mines or quarries was advanced from 14 to 15 years. In addition, the hours of employment of young persons were more completely regulated than formerly.
Spain.—By an Act dated July 1912, the employment of women during the night-time in factories or workshops is declared to be illegal in Spain. “Night-time,” within the meaning of the Act, covers a period of not less than 11 consecutive hours, in which must be comprised the time between 9 P.M. and 5 A.M. The foregoing prohibition does not apply (a) in cases of force majeure, (b) in agricultural enterprises, or in trades in which perishable materials are used, provided, as regards the latter, that their loss cannot be avoided without resort to night-work. By a royal decree dated April 1919, work is forbidden in bakehouses, factories and other places where bread is made for a period of 6 consecutive hours in each 24, which period must fall between 8 P.M. and 5 A.M.
Austria.—A new law of Dec. 1911 amended the law of 1884 in respect to the employment of women and children in mines. By a law of Feb. 1911, the employment of women and girls between the hours of 8 P.M. and 5 A.M. is prohibited in any industrial establishment in Austria in which more than 10 workpeople are employed (in the case of raw sugar factories, the law was not to come into operation till 1915). Furthermore, every woman or girl must be granted not less than II consecutive hours of rest at night. If, however, work is done in shifts of not more than 8 hours, this 11-hour rest period may commence at 10 P.M. in the case of women over 16 years of age. Special provision is made for unforeseen circumstances, seasonal trades and trades where raw materials are subject to rapid deterioration. It was reported in 1919 that a new Act containing similar provisions, and including also young persons, came into force in German Austria as from June of that year.
Japan.—A new factory law was passed in Japan in 1911, whereby the minimum age of employment in factories is 12 years. The administrative authorities may sanction the employment of minors between 10 and 12 years of age when the work is not too exacting, at the same time imposing conditions as to such employment. Lads under 15 and females must not be employed for more than 12 hours per day. For a period of 15 years from the date of the enforcement of the law the minister concerned may, however, permit the extension of the working hours, according to the class of work, but not beyond the limit of 14 hours per day. These two categories of workers are not to be employed between 10 P.M. and 4 A.M., except in special circumstances and upon special work to be determined by the competent minister. Where the operatives are employed in two or more shifts these restrictions as to night-work will not be enforced during 15 years from the date on which the law enters into force. The law, which was put into force in Sept. 1916, is recognized as a tentative piece of legislation, and its practical effect has been inconsiderable. As a result of the deliberations of the International Labour Conference at Washington, in the autumn of 1919, referred to above, the provisions of this measure were to be amended as regards working hours and employment at night.
Minimum Wage.—An important development in recent labour legislation outside England has been that for the fixing of statutorily enforceable minimum rates of wages, in certain cases for home-workers only.
British Overseas Dominions.—Minimum-wage legislation began with the New Zealand Act of 1894; primarily the laws had for their purpose the settlement of trade disputes involving strikes and lockouts. The legislation enacted in Victoria in 1896 was based upon an entirely different reason; the Victoria Wages Board law was directed against the evils of sweating, particularly of the home-workers. This type of legislation was followed by the Governments of several of the other Australian states. Up to 1921 seven out of the nine provinces of Canada had adopted the principle of the provision of a minimum wage for working women. The laws passed are all of very recent date, the earliest step in this direction being taken in 1917, when Alberta inserted a clause in the Factories Act of that year, establishing a flat-rate minimum wage for all employees covered by the Act, with a lower rate for apprentices. In 1918 the first minimum-wage laws for women only were passed by Manitoba and British Columbia, followed in 1919 by Quebec and Saskatchewan, and in 1920 by Nova Scotia and Ontario. In 1920, also, Alberta amended its law with special reference to women. The two remaining provinces, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, have as yet (1921) taken no action in the matter. The application of the law is more or less restricted in all the provinces. In five provinces the minimum-wage laws deal also with hours of labour, while in three the 48-hour week has been fixed for one or more industries under the regulations for the execution of the Acts; British Columbia recognizes this standard in all trades. In all provinces except Alberta special provision is made for handicapped workers. In South Africa a bill was recently introduced for the creation of local joint boards to fix minimum wages in particular trades.
France.—The principle of a minimum wage was adopted in France by the enactment of a law in July 1915, which provides for special boards to fix such a wage for women employed in home-work in the clothing industry.
Switzerland.—Minimum rates were introduced in the embroidery industry in Switzerland by a decree of the Federal Council of March 1917. In June 1919 the Federal Assembly promulgated an Act for the establishment of: (1) a Federal Labour Department; (2) a Federal Wage Commission; (3) Federal Wage Boards. Subsequent to the passing of the measure a demand was made that it should be submitted to the Referendum, which resulted in a narrow majority for rejecting the measure.
Norway.—A law dated Feb. 1918 provided for the establishment of trade boards for certain industries in Norway. The provisions of the Act relative to the fixing of minimum wages applied primarily to outwork in industries engaged in the manufacture of clothing and articles of needlework generally; the application of the law may be extended to other occupations in which outworkers are employed.
Sweden.—A bill has been prepared by the Government in Sweden for the regulation of wages and working conditions of home-workers; the provisions include power to appoint trade boards on the English model for any occupation and district.
Czechoslovakia.—A law on home-work, modelled on the Austrian law of Jan. 1919, was passed by the National Assembly of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1919, and provides for the fixing of minimum wages for home-workers.
Unemployment Insurance.—Before the World War, little had been done outside England in the way of the compulsory insurance of the working-classes against unemployment. Schemes have for some time been established in a number of European countries whereby voluntary funds managed by trade unions and other societies, and compulsory or voluntary municipal funds providing unemployment benefit, receive subsidies from the State, provincial council, or municipality. Unemployment resulting from strikes and lockouts, and also from sickness and accident where the provision exists, is excluded. As a rule, the receipt of benefit is further dependent upon a qualifying term of membership and of local residence. A maximum duration of benefit is invariably fixed, and it is usual to impose a short “waiting time” during which no benefit can be obtained. Subsidized schemes of unemployment benefit are usually worked in conjunction with labour registries.
Switzerland.—The earliest experiments of this kind were made in Switzerland, where the municipality of Berne organized a fund in 1873, and other Swiss municipalities also subsequently introduced schemes. Recent developments in Switzerland are that, between Aug. 5 1918 and April 5. 1919, five decrees of an emergency character were issued by the Swiss Federal Council regulating the grant of assistance to unemployed workers. Two of these related to unemployment in private industry arising out of war conditions, the third to unemployment among workers employed by the Federal Government, the fourth to unemployment of Swiss subjects returning from abroad, while the fifth laid down conditions for the relief of all workers not covered by the preceding measures. These were repealed and revised by a single decree dated Oct. 1919, which is to be regarded as a provisional measure to be replaced ultimately by an Unemployment Insurance law. Assistance is granted both for whole and for partial unemployment, subject to the fulfilment of conditions laid down in the decree.
France.—In France many trade-union unemployment funds are subsidized by the State, the departments and the communes. The towns were the first to take action (as early as 1896), while the first departments acted in 1903. Under a law of April 1905, a certain credit is earmarked in the French budget for the purpose of public subsidies for unemployment benefit funds. A decree dated Oct. 1919 amended previous decrees relating to State subsidies to municipal and departmental relief funds.
Belgium.—Assisted provision against unemployment has been in operation in Belgium since 1901, subsidies being granted from special municipal unemployment funds to trade unions and other organizations paying unemployed benefit. Several of the provincial councils subsidize trade union and communal unemployment funds, and since 1907 the State has made small grants both towards the establishment of funds and in direct relief of unemployed members.
Italy.—In Italy assisted unemployment benefit schemes were introduced in a few towns. A decree of April 1916 authorized periodical subsidies to be granted or lent as a war measure to various organizations providing unemployment benefits for their members. A system of compulsory insurance against involuntary unemployment in Italy came into force on Jan. 1 1920.
Germany.—In Germany a voluntary unemployment fund, with a municipal subsidy, was introduced in Cologne in 1896, and certain other German municipalities also introduced schemes. Immediately after the signing of the Armistice, the German Government issued an order regulating the payment of unemployment donations. Under the order the communal authorities were required to pay out-of-work benefit to residents who were out of employment. Persons receiving out-of-work pay were required to take up work other than their usual employment, and at a distance from their place of abode, but no penalty was incurred in the event of refusal. Various abuses were soon found to exist, and amending orders have been made.
Other European Countries.—The “Ghent” system of assisting trade unions which maintain unemployment funds has been introduced in a number of the larger towns in Holland since 1906. In Norway a law offering State subsidies to unemployment benefit funds complying with certain conditions was passed in June 1906 and amended in July 1908, simultaneously with another law establishing labour registries. State assistance to recognized unemployment benefit societies in Denmark was first granted under a law dated April 1907. A law of April 1914 increased the amount of the State subsidy to such societies and made other amendments; it has been revised in certain particulars by a law dated Jan. 1920. In 1919, a royal decree in Spain was issued under which the State was to grant a subsidy equal to the amount of the subscriptions collected from their members by workmen's mutual unemployment benefit societies and similar institutions which have a separate organization for dealing with unemployment. The new Unemployment Insurance Act of Austria, dated March 1920, supersedes a temporary measure on the same subject. A change in the unemployment relief system had become necessary in order to relieve the State of its heavy financial burden, and because of the steady fall in the number of unemployed. As regards Poland, the official Gazette of Nov. 1919 announced arrangements in aid of the unemployed pending the passing of a law dealing with this subject. Able-bodied workers of either sex, in trade, comment or transport, who, through no fault of their own, are out of work are entitled to State assistance.
Old Age and Infirmity Insurance.—Compulsory insurance of the working-classes against old age and infirmity has existed in some countries for a number of years, e.g. Germany since 1889, France since 1910, etc. Certain other countries have also for some time applied this principle to special classes, as, for example, Austria, Hungary and Belgium to miners; while State or other public subsidies have been granted in aid of voluntary insurance or savings it, France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Spain. The more recent developments have been as follows:—
France.—The French Finance Act, 1912, amended in certain respects the provisions of the law of April 1910 relating to compulsory insurance against old age and infirmity, the principal amendments being that, while in the law as originally passed the State added to the annuity purchased by the insured person £2 8s. per annum on his attaining the age of 65, the new law raised the State addition to £4 per annum, and provided for its payment from the age of 60. The Act of June 1894, in which the principle of compulsory insurance against infirmity and old age was applied to French miners, was amended in Feb. 1914, as to the State contribution, the administration of the funds, etc. Further amendments were introduced by a law passed in March 1920, the main provisions of this new law being the allocation of higher subventions towards the pensions granted to miners or their widows.
Belgium.—A law of June 1911 prescribed that all workpeople employed in coal-mining in Belgium must be insured in the National Superannuation Fund. A law dated May 1912 has for its object the promotion by State subsidies of recognized associations and friendly societies who grant benefits to their members suffering from illnesses of a chronic nature or from premature infirmity. It is stated that a general old age pension law is contemplated.
Italy.—In conformity with a law promulgated in Italy in June 1913, a Seamen's Old Age and Infirmity Fund was formed by the amalgamation of existing institutions having similar objects. As regards ships' crews, the principle of compulsory contributions was already in operation under a law of July 1861, but the obligation imposed by the later law upon shipowners introduced a new principle in Italian legislation on this subject. As from Jan. 1 1920, a scheme was introduced in Italy under which insurance against disability, resulting either from sickness or accident, and old age became obligatory (with certain specified exceptions) on (1) all Italian subjects of both sexes between the ages of 15 and 65 working for an employer in any industry, trade or profession, agriculture and the public services, or occupied in domestic service or in any private employment, and (2) foreigners working at the same occupations who, however, receive full benefits only if reciprocal treatment is granted to Italians employed in their countries.
In Germany an Imperial law of June 1916 reduced the age of eligibility for an old age pension from 70 to 65; laws of Dec. 1919 extended compulsory insurance against infirmity and old age to certain new classes of workpeople.
In Holland provision was made for the institution of national schemes for compulsory insurance against sickness, infirmity and old age by a series of three Acts dated June 1913.
In Sweden a law dated June 1913 introduced a national scheme of compulsory insurance against old age and infirmity.
In Spain provision for the creation of deferred life annuities on a contributory and State-aided basis was made by the law of Feb. 1908. This Act, however, was of a permissive nature. A royal decree was issued in March 1919, making insurance against old age compulsory for all wage-earners between the ages of 16 and 65 whose total annual income does not exceed £160.
Sickness and Accident Insurance.—Compulsory insurance against sickness and accident has been applied in a number of countries, for example in Germany (1883), Austria (1888), Hungary (1891), United Kingdom (1911), etc., but the range of occupations covered by the various schemes varies considerably. In a number of other countries (e.g. Sweden) the sick funds recognized by the State receive State subsidies. The principal developments in recent years are as follows:—
Italy.—Legislation in respect of compulsory accident insurance in Italy dates from 1898; a consolidated text was promulgated in Jan. 1904 embodying all the amendments up to that date. For the most part agricultural workers in Italy were excluded, but, by a decree of Aug. 1917, the principle of compulsory insurance against accidents was extended to agricultural workers generally. Reference has been made above to the general scheme for compulsory insurance against sickness or accident and old age, introduced in Italy as from the beginning of 1920.
Switzerland.—A new law in Switzerland on insurance against sickness and accidents, passed in June 1911, was accepted by National Referendum in Feb. 1912. The sickness insurance scheme is a system of Federal State grants to recognized sick funds conducted on a mutual basis. Generally the insurance is voluntary, but the cantonal governments may, subject to the approval of the Federal Government, (a) declare it obligatory either for all persons or for certain specified classes; (b) establish public sick funds, while having due regard to funds already in existence; and (c) compel the employers to see that the premiums of their employees compulsorily
insured in such public funds are paid. (The power to compel the employers themselves to contribute is, however, expressly withheld from the cantons.) These powers may be delegated by the cantonal governments to their communes. Under the second part of the law provision is made for a system of compulsory insurance against accidents, which, in certain respects, involves a notable departure as compared with schemes of compulsory accident insurance hitherto enacted in other countries. In the first place, the principle of compulsion is not confined to “occupational” but also extends to “non-occupational” accidents. In the second place, the State defrays part of the premiums for insurance, and it does so not only for those coming under the compulsory provisions of the law, but also for those voluntarily insured through the National Insurance Fund which the Act sets up. Those for whom the law declares insurance against accidents, whether “occupational” or not, to be obligatory, comprise all persons employed in Switzerland for a wage or salary in factories, workshops, mines, building, and transport by land or water (including the postal service).
Workmen's Compensation.—Compensation for industrial accidents was established in Germany in 1884, in Austria in 1887, and Norway followed in 1894. The development of legislation providing for workmen's compensation for industrial accidents in Europe and throughout the world has been extremely rapid. Recent legislation (whether of compensation or insurance) recognizes the principles of compensation as distinguished from fhe older idea of employers' liability.
For Arbitration and Conciliation in labour disputes, see the article under that heading.
Bibliography.—The monthly Labour Gazette and the quarterly Labour Overseas, published by the Ministry of Labour in Great Britain, contain valuable information; there are also official publications issued by the appropriate Government Departments in other countries, notably the Bulletins of the United States Department of Labor, which Department has published a number of special reports on such subjects as Workmen's Compensation, Child Labour Legislation, etc. Among unofficial books, reference may be made to A Handbook of Industrial Law by J. H. Greenwood, and Industrial Law by F. Tillyard. (H. J. W.)
During the decade 1910–20 there was a remarkable development of labour legislation in the United States. Within these years were enacted, by the Federal and state Governments, statutes dealing with workmen's compensation, minimum wage, health and safety, hours of labour, vocational education and employment service. Even more significant was the creation by several states of industrial commissions with power to issue rules and regulations having the force of law and thus relieving the Legislature of a mass of technical details. It was a period also of distinct forward movement in the field of judicial interpretation, particularly with regard to the police power in the application of the principles of “public benefit” and “equal protection of the laws” as first stated in the case of Holden v. Hardy (18 Sup. Ct. 383, 1898).
Individual Bargaining.—Since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, there has been a steady development of laws designed to equalize bargaining power between employer and employee. Laws dealing with labour as debtor and as creditor have included such subjects as contract labour, the padrone system, wage exemptions, assignment of wages, time of payment, place of payment, basis of payment, medium of payment, deductions, mechanics' liens and wage preference.
Seamen.—Until 1914 seamen were considered in a different class from other employees and with them enforced contracts were permitted. The Seamen's Act of 1915, however, abolished arrest and imprisonment as a penalty for desertion and stipulated that it should be unlawful in any case to pay seamen wages in advance or to pay any person for the shipment of seamen when payment is deducted from seamen's wages. It permits forfeiture of one month's pay for quitting the vessel without leave after arrival at the port of delivery and before she is placed in security. The law also regulates the nature of the contract, the term of service, the payment and assignment of wages, advance payments and credits, the regulation of sailors' lodging-houses, of shipping masters, quarters on board ship, rations and other details.
Service and Rent.—Another important group of laws which fall under the classification of medium of payment are those dealing with company houses and labour camps. Since it is legal for an employer to require his workmen to occupy company houses and to deduct the rent from wages, there is here an opportunity for
abuse. Consequently, in 1913, New York granted to the Industrial Commission power of inspection. In three other states labour camps for certain kinds of work have been brought under supervision. A new development in the regulation of deductions from wages for the purpose of furnishing certain benefits is found in the laws of Oregon and Minnesota. The former has legalized deductions for hospital benefits on approval of the Industrial Accident Commission. The Minnesota law requires employers who make deductions for benefit funds to secure a licence for the benefit plan from the State Insurance Commission. Statutes have recently been enacted by half the states, the Philippines and the Federal Government, providing that no contract of insurance or relief-benefit shall constitute a bar to action for damages in case of an employee's injury or death, though sometimes the employer may offset against such claims benefits contributed.
Laws dealing with labour as tenant and as competitor belong, also, under individual bargaining. There has been little agricultural labour legislation except a law of Texas passed in 1915, which is the first American law designed to regulate the rents of share tenants by limiting the amount of rent which can be charged the “cropper.” Among the laws protecting the labourer as competitor are the Immigration Bill of 1915 and a group of laws relating to convict labour which can be divided into three general classes: (1) prohibition of convict work which competes with free labour; (2) prohibition of convict labour in certain forms of industry; and (3) distribution of convicts among diversified lines of industry. A few states have adopted different plans.
Legal Aid.—Another method of protecting the individual in his bargaining relations is by legal aid and industrial courts. From New York private legal aid societies have spread throughout the larger cities of the United States. Kansas City, Mo., is the only city, however, possessing a free municipal legal aid bureau, established in 1910, while Los Angeles county, Cal., was the first to establish the office of public defender in 1913. Similar offices have been created in six other cities. California has an Act providing for the collection of wages, enforced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wilful refusal to pay labour, with intent to secure a discount or to defraud, constitutes a misdemeanour. Under the N.Y. Commission Law the commission is given power to investigate claims made by employees against employers and to present the cases to the proper authorities for action. The only industrial court in the United States is in Cleveland, O., established in 1912.
Collective Bargaining.—Though the right of workmen to combine was secured in the United States by common consent and favourable construction without legislation earlier than by law in Great Britain, the conspiracy law has remained without being clarified. When the Sherman Anti-Trust Law was enacted in 1890 it was almost immediately held applicable to labour unions, and it was feared that it rendered all strikes, if not all labour organizations, unlawful. The Clayton Act (1914), however, declared that the anti-trust laws should not be construed to forbid the existence of labour organizations or to restrain their members from carrying out the “legitimate objects” thereof. This provision has probably eliminated the danger of the extension of the restraint-of-trade doctrine to a possible outlawing of all labour organizations, though the decision by the Supreme Court in the Duplex case (The Duplex Printing Press Co. of Battle Creek, Mich., v. International Association of Machinists, 41 Sup. Ct., 172) has demonstrated that labour organizations in their actual practices are still within the anti-trust laws.
Most of the cases of which labour complains have been premised not on the anti-trust laws but on the common-law doctrine of conspiracy. While the legality of trade unions has not been questioned, except organizations advocating criminal syndicalism, various restrictions have been placed on efforts to make them effective. Generalizing from a large number of cases, it can be said that the strike is usually considered illegal when its purpose is primarily to injure the employer or the non-union workman and that, except where compulsory arbitration has been introduced, as in Kansas in 1920, strikes solely and directly involving the rate of pay or hours of labour are in ordinary times everywhere considered legal. But strikes to gain a closed shop, sympathetic strikes, and against non-union material, have been condemned in many jurisdictions.
California is the only state which has a settled law that all strikes are legal. The only method of preventing them is the injunction. In some cases “conspiracy to quit work” has been enjoined, and in others the union officers have been prohibited from advising or ordering the workmen to strike, or from paying strike benefits. A famous injunction of this type was secured by the Federal Government during the bituminous-coal mine dispute of 1919. Though formerly the boycott was condemned as unlawful, an effort is being made to distinguish between the primary boycott and secondary boycott, which is the boycott of a third party. At present there is great lack of uniformity among the laws. The two famous boycott cases are the Danbury Hatters' case (Loewe v. Lawlor, 35 Sup. Ct.,
170, 1915), which was in the courts from 1903 to 1917, and the Duplex case (1921) already mentioned, in both of which the secondary boycott was declared illegal. Picketing laws, also, vary widely. California, which recognizes both the strike and boycott as legal, will not permit picketing. It has been condemned by the courts of six states and is held a misdemeanour in three others. Nine states hold that “peaceful” picketing is lawful. A further cause of illegality was laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell (1917), in which it was contended that where an employer has required all his employees to sign a contract that they will not join any labour union it is illegal to make any effort to organize them. In the Clayton Act (1914), which many believed would remove the restrictions which hamper trade unions, the most tangible gain is in the provision for jury trial in contempt cases where the offence charged is also indictable as a crime. This Act further provides that injunctions issued by the Federal courts shall not prohibit the quitting of work, the refusal to patronize, peaceful picketing or peaceful persuasion. Nor are these acts to be considered “violations of any law of the United States,” whether they are done “singly or in concert.” Yet those in charge of the legislation pointed out that it did not modify the law of conspiracy with regard to the substantive rights of employers and employees. When workmen combine to injure an employer or non-unionists, their illegal purpose colours all their conduct. Furthermore, it does not affect the cases in the state courts, which far outnumber those in the Federal courts.
Laws restricting employers' rights are few in number. Most of the states have laws prohibiting blacklisting, but they have been dead letters. Other statutes have been declared unconstitutional which attempted to prohibit employers from coercing workmen into surrendering their rights to belong to labour unions (Adair v. United States, 28 Sup. Ct., 277, 1908, and Coppage v. Kansas, 35 Sup. Ct., 240, 1915). The Supreme Court furthermore has held that, while it is illegal to induce a workman to join a union where he has signed an agreement not to belong (the Hitchman coal case), it is not coercion for the employer to threaten to discharge a workman unless he will renounce his union membership, as in the Coppage case.
While there have been many damage suits in connexion with labour disputes and many judgments against unions or their members, only two recent cases are important: the Danbury Hatters' case (see above) and the Arkansas coal-miners' case (Dowd v. United Mine Workers, 235 Fed., 1, 1916; Coronado Coal v. United Mine Workers, Circuit Court of Appeals, 1919). Both of these cases involved suits for triple damages under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and in both the cause of action antedated the passage of the Clayton Act. The decisions in these cases have established the principle that labour unions and their individual members are responsible without limit for the unlawful actions of the union officers and agents which they have in any manner authorized or sanctioned. Such antecedent authorization or subsequent approval of unlawful acts does not require to be expressed, but may be inferred from all the facts in the situation.
Minimum Wage.—The first minimum-wage law for women and children was passed by Massachusetts in 1912. By 1920, 13 states and Porto Rico had followed this example, and Congress had legislated for the District of Columbia. Constitutional amendments specifically allowing minimum-wage legislation were passed by California in 1914 for women and children, and by Ohio in 1912 for all classes of workers. In general the laws are very much restricted in scope and are regarded as a remedy for exceptional conditions, providing only a bare subsistence wage for those considered the most helpless class of sweated workers—women and children.
Since the purpose of minimum-wage legislation is to raise excessively low wages, the question of the standards of wage awards is the important issue. Nearly all the American laws define in general terms the principle to be followed in fixing wages, which is usually that of a living wage. For women the standard commonly used is the cost of living of the entirely self-supporting woman. Early orders were in the neighbourhood of $8 and $9 a week. In response to war-time increases, new rates were introduced which varied from $11.10 in the state of Oregon to $15.50 in the printing and engraving industry in Washington, D.C. Wisconsin set up the general rate of 22 cents an hour for experienced adults, increased to 25 cents in 1921; and Minnesota 23 cents an hour, limited to 54 hours weekly.
In connexion with fixing the minimum standard, the question of the “financial condition of the business” has arisen with regard to the continued existence of an industry, and exceptions have been made in some states for certain industries which could not stand the rate. California has best met the problem of adjusting piece rates by providing that piece rates must yield the minimum wage to two-thirds of the female employees. The employment of slow or infirm workers at lower rates is generally permitted by special licence. Practically all minimum-wage laws permit the fixing of rates for sub-standard workers. As a guide for adjusting these special rates, most Amercian statutes contain only a provision that rates for
children and apprentices shall be suitable. To offset the tendency to substitute young girls and inexperienced workers for adults in trades requiring little skill, it has been found necessary to specify the length of apprenticeship and the proportion of apprentices allowed.
There are two methods of operation: the flat-rate law, which prescribes a legal minimum in the statute itself, and the more common type which provides for a board or commission to fix rates after proper investigation. The commissions are generally unsalaried. Their jurisdiction extends over persons covered by the law with full power of investigation. A subordinate board is usually provided for, which is representative of employers, employees and the public. It must make a report with recommendations to the commission, which the latter accepts or refers back. When the report has been accepted and a public hearing has been held, the recommendations are promulgated as orders. Provisions for a court review are customarily included. A new application of the police power is involved in the constitutionality of the minimum-wage legislation. The question was settled definitely by the Supreme Court decision in the famous Oregon case (1917) which held the law constitutional on the same ground on which laws restricting hours of labour for women and children had been sustained.
Hours of Labour.—Beginning with Illinois in 1903, the 8-hour standard for children under 16 has been established in 25 states and the District of Columbia, with certain exemptions in a few states. Other states have less favourable laws, especially some of the southern states, which still allow children to work legally 11 hours a day. To meet the arguments of employers who opposed restriction of hours of labour of children on the ground that it put them at a disadvantage with their competitors in neighbouring states, Congress in 1916 enacted a measure which forbade the transportation in interstate commerce of the products of factories or mines on which children between 14 and 16 had worked more than eight hours a day or more than six days a week or at night. The law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as an undue extension of the power to regulate interstate commerce. In 1919 Congress again enacted a law containing similar standards based on the taxing power, which levies a tax of 10% on the annual net profits of any concern which employs children in violation of the above standards.
By 1920 only six states, in most of which comparatively few women were employed industrially, had placed no restrictions on women's hours of work; many had limited hours to eight or nine a day; and a large number had a weekly limit of less than 60 hours. The majority of statutes fix the same daily and weekly maximum hours for all occupations covered, and generally include the principal industrial occupations for women except those in homes and agriculture. In several states the law applies only to cities within a given classification. In only a few cases, however, do the laws define the time during which the work period must fall by naming the spread of the hours allowed, by fixing opening and closing hours or by forbidding night-work. In detail the statutes vary from a 12- to an 8-hour-day minimum in 10 jurisdictions and from a 60- to a 48-hour week. About one-third of the laws permit overtime. Recently a few states have adopted a more progressive method of regulating hours by replacing the flat-rate law with statutes containing the general principle that a woman is not to be employed for any period of time dangerous to her health, safety and welfare. A commission is given power to determine, after investigation, maximum periods for different industries and even for different localities.
Though the constitutionality of the 10-hour day was established in the Oregon case (Multer v. Oregon, 28 Sup. Ct., 324, 1908), the reasonableness of the 8-hour day was still in doubt until the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the California law on the same ground of public health. The laws have been attacked also on the ground of class legislation, but the courts have given little weight to this objection, asserting the freedom of the Legislature to use discretion in enlarging the scope of laws or to single out groups most in need of protection.
Statutes regarding the limitation of hours of men are more restricted in scope. In 1912 Congress required that an 8-hour clause be inserted in all contracts involving the employment of labourers or mechanics when made by the Federal Government, its territories or the District of Columbia, and extended the provision to post-office employees. On declaration of the President, violation is excusable for certain emergencies and extraordinary events. During the World War Congress empowered the President to suspend the law in case of national emergency, with pay at the rate of time-and-a-half for all work in excess of eight hours. This privilege was frequently exercised. In 1915 Federal legislation with regard to the amount of work which might be exacted took a new turn in the appropriation bills forthe army and navy. Provisions were included against time studies, bonuses or cash rewards except for suggestions resulting in improvements in service. Over half of the states and many cities have 8-hour laws for employees on public works.
With regard to private employment, progress has been made
mainly through collective bargaining, with a few important exceptions. In 1916 the Federal statute applying to railway employees on interstate lines and in the District of Columbia was supplemented by the Adamson law, which provides the basic 8-hour day for railway trainmen. About a dozen states regulate hours of street-railway employees to 10 or 12 a day, while Massachusetts has fixed a 9-hour day which must fall within 11 consecutive hours. A few cities, also, have regulated the hours of service on street railways. Regulation of hours in water transportation is found in the Federal Act of 1913, limiting hours of deck officers in port to 9 and at sea to 12 except in cases of emergency. The Federal Act of 1915, known as the “Seamen's Act,” provides that when a vessel is in a safe harbour, 9 hours, inclusive of anchor watch, shall constitute a day's work. By Jan. 1920 the 16 states in which the mining industry is important limited hours in the various classes of mine work to 8 in one day, with special provision in a few laws for additional hours at the time of changing shifts.
With regard to regulation of hours in factories and workshops, two states, Mississippi in 1912 and Oregon in 1913, adopted the 10-hour day, with certain exceptions, for all classes of employees in certain manufacturing industries. The Oregon statute permits three hours' overtime at time-and-a-half pay, and the Mississippi Act allows 20 minutes' overtime on each of the first five days of the week and deducts this time from the 10 hours of the sixth day. In the Oregon case (Bunting v. Oregon, 37 Sup. Ct., 435, 1917) the constitutionality of the 10-hour daily limit for adult males was assured and the way was opened for much larger regulation of men's work. A small number of states also regulate the hours of employment of adult males in a few specified employments.
In spite of the considerable development of maximum hour regulation in the United States, not much attention has been paid to the question of legal rest periods. Several states have laws requiring daily rest periods; 12 states forbid certain forms of night work by women, and a few others shorten the number of hours of night work; 40 states have prohibited night work for children under 16. While more than a dozen states have made Saturday afternoon a legal holiday, practically none has made effective provision for enforcement. By 1920 six states and the Federal Government had passed laws embodying the principle of one day's rest in seven, only three of which are effective from the point of view of enforcement or number of industries included. Sunday laws have been upheld almost universally by the courts, formerly on religious grounds and in later years as a legitimate use of the police power. In the only test case of one-day's-rest-in-seven laws, the N.Y. State Court of Appeals (People v. Klenck Packing Co., 214 N.Y., 121, 1915) sustained it as a police-power regulation. Classifications were likewise upheld as meeting modern industrial conditions.
Unemployment.—Private employment agencies situated in industrial and railway centres have long been a means of connecting the man with the job. The abuses of these profit-making agencies have resulted in restrictive legislation designed to prevent fraud and extortion and to ensure moral surroundings. These laws usually require owners of private employment agencies to deposit a bond with the State Department of Labor or the city authorities and to secure a licence. Twelve states prohibit the location of such offices in saloons, and several others forbid association with lodging-houses, restaurants or gambling-places. Frequently the sending of minors and women to immoral resorts is forbidden. Fees are regulated as to maximum amount. Some laws specify that all advertisements or other information must be truthful. Several states require records, but, with the exception of New York, they are rarely comprehensive enough to be valuable. There was almost unanimous testimony of investigators and public officials up to 1921 that these laws had not been successful in eradicating abuses, and there arose a widespread movement to abolish them altogether. The state of Washington took the initiative by prohibiting the collection of fees from workers by an employment agent. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, held the law unconstitutional as “arbitrary” and “oppressive,” an undue restriction on the liberty of the appellants, and therefore a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1919 the Wisconsin Legislature gave the State Industrial Commission discretionary power to refuse licences to private employment agencies if the public bureau in the district is sufficient to supply the needs.
At the time of the entrance of the United States into the World War there were between 80 and 90 public employment exchanges maintained by 23 states and more than a dozen cities. In 1920 44 states and the District of Columbia were coöperating with the U.S. Employment Service. The older laws which create only a state employment office and make no provision for local branches have been practically a dead letter. The more recent legislation, however, which can be exemplified by the N.Y. statute of 1014, has been successful. It establishes a bureau of employment in the State Department of Labor under the immediate charge of a director who must be under civil service rules. The industrial commission is given power to establish such free local offices as it deems necessary. The activities of the local bureaus are coordinated by a labour market bulletin and the interchange of lists of vacancies. Partial recognition of the policy of joint control is given in the appointment by the Commissioner of Labor of a representative committee of employers and employees. Other clauses provide for registration, special regulations for children, and various details. The most controversial point in the administration of a bureau is the policy to be pursued in the case of a strike or lock-out. The first laws forbidding applications under those conditions were declared illegal. Since then the problem has been dealt with by some form of publicity clause requiring the exhibition at the exchanges of statements in regard to trade disputes. But state offices cannot organize the labour market. The war-time demands of labour emphasized the weaknesses of the state systems and led to the development of new administrative machinery, the U.S. Employment Service (see Labour Supply and Regulation).
In regard to the progressive measures dealing with the systematic distribution of public work, little of value has been accomplished, though a number of cities have inaugurated plans to meet temporary emergencies and have made definite arrangements for reserve work. Pennsylvania is the only state which has established a permanent fund to be used for public work during slack seasons. The question of the prevention of unemployment is only just beginning to be recognized. The Illinois and Pennsylvania laws of 1915 instruct the administration authorities to take steps toward the regularization of employment, but nothing has been accomplished. A more definite inducement to the regularization of employment is found in the laws under consideration by several legislatures which require the employers to take out insurance against the unemployment of their employees and to provide compensation to the workers during the unemployed periods.
Safety and Health.—Legislative activities for the control of industrial accidents and occupational diseases have developed along four main lines: reporting, prohibition, regulation and compensation or insurance. Though the early laws did not bring satisfactory results, accident-reporting laws have proved useful as a guide for inspection, safeguarding and advanced legislation, and have continued to spread to new states and to new branches of industry. Laws relating to the reporting of occupational disease are of more recent origin. California in 1911 was the first state to pass such a law, and within five years 16 states had enacted similar measures. The latest tendency is to include within the laws “any ailment or disease contracted as a result of the nature of the patient's employment” instead of limiting them to certain diseases.
The prohibitive method has been applied to the exclusion of certain classes from employment and to the outlawry of dangerous substances and instruments. As a result of continuous agitation, by 1920 the 14-year minimum-age limit had been established for general factory work in all except five states and by the Federal Government, while several states have raised the limit to 16 years and in some instances to 18 years and even 21 for certain more hazardous and morally dangerous occupations. The street-trade laws are still far from adequate. In 1920 only two states had the same age limit, 14 years, for street trades as for other employments, and only about half of the states had any regulations at all. In regard to physical requirements no standards have been fixed, but 12 states require a physical examination of all children granted permits. The New York law makes further provision also for a corps of medical examiners under the Department of Labor to examine any children in any industry and to recommend the withdrawal of the employment certificate. A number of states modify the age requirements by forbidding the employment of children who do not come up to certain standards of knowledge. These vary from a mere literacy requirement in any language to graduation from the eighth grade. The principal agencies for the enforcement of child labour laws are the school authorities, the boards of health, and, in some states, special child-labour inspectors. Probation officers and child-welfare agencies may sometimes aid. The issuance of certificates is usually in the hands of the local school authorities, though in New York it is in the control of the Board of Health and in Wisconsin of the State Industrial Commission.
The exclusion of women from certain occupations has not been extensively developed in America. Work in mines is forbidden in most of the mining states, and work in saloons (except by members of the family) in 15 states. In addition there are a few scattered provisions in regard to the cleaning of moving machinery, work requiring constant standing, operation of emery or other polishing wheels and coremaking in foundries. Child-birth protection did not receive consideration until 1911. Since then five states have passed laws forbidding employment of any women in manufacturing, mechanical or mercantile establishments within two weeks before and four weeks after child-birth. Legal requirements for the exclusion of men from dangerous occupations are limited to certain classes of individuals. Four states require certain physical qualifications for work in compressed air; the “lead laws” require monthly examinations; absence of contagious disease is required in bakeshops; and freedom from colour-blindness of railway employees is mentioned in a few states. Technical qualifications required for licensing men to carry on certain trades are far more numerous. In regard to the prohibition of substances and instruments, there are two laws. In 1912 Congress placed a prohibitory tax of 2 cents per 100 on matches containing white sulphur and prohibited their import or export. This was the first time that the power of internal revenue taxation had been exercised for the protection of the health of the workers. There is also a regulation in Massachusetts forbidding the use of certain shuttles.
The need of standards, drafted and enforced by public authority, has led to the development of codes dealing with factories and work-shops, mines and tunnels and transportation. The factory codes include regulations which deal with the construction and use of machinery, steam boilers and elevators, stationary equipment, etc., protection against fire, lighting, heating and ventilation, seats, toilets and dressing-rooms, protection from infectious disease, and tenement-house manufacture. In connexion with mines and tunnels the regulations treat mainly of accident dangers, though the health hazard has been given some consideration. Compressed-air illness (or caisson disease) is the industrial hazard which has been brought into prominence by the increasing construction of tunnels, subways, bridges and skyscrapers. Three states have attempted to control the disease by legislation, and several states have issued orders which include periodic physical examination, a sliding scale of working hours (decreasing as the pressure increases), and a period of gradual decompression. More than a 50-lb. pressure is forbidden.
In regard to navigation the Federal Seamen's Act of 1915 provides for a substantial increase of the size of crews, for a certain percentage of able seamen, for certified life-boat men and for a given number of properly constructed life-boats. Laws dealing with railways and street cars can be divided into two groups: those designed to protect the employee and those designed to protect the public. In the case of the first group, continued progress has been made since 1910 by giving the Interstate Commerce Commission power to designate standards of equipment and to investigate accidents. The latest development of laws for the protection of travellers are the full-crew laws, applying to both passenger and freight service. These have been upheld by the courts on the ground of public safety. Their enforcement is usually entrusted to state railway and public utility commissions with delegated power to work out details.
Social Insurance.—The first accident compensation law of general application was passed by New York in 1910. This statute was declared unconstitutional, but an amendment to the state constitution made possible the enactment of a compulsory law in 1914. Other states followed, and by 1919 compensation laws had been passed by 42 states in addition to Alaska, Hawaii and Porto Rico. The Federal law of 1908 was repealed in favour of the Act of 1916, which covers all civilian employees of the Federal Government. Early laws had been declared unconstitutional on the ground that to require an employer to pay damages for an accident for which he was not to blame was taking property without due process of law; that both employer and employee were deprived of the right of trial by jury and that the employer was charged with liability without fault. In 1917, however, the constitutionality of the chief types of compensation was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in three far-reaching decisions (New York Central R.R. Co. v. White, 37 Sup. Ct., 247, 1917; Hawkins v. Bleakly, 37 Sup. Ct., 255, 1917; Mountain Timber Co. v. Washington, 37 Sup. Ct., 260, 1917). The Court ruled that the enactment of laws providing compensation for industrial accidents tended to promote the public welfare and were, therefore, within the scope of the police power. It upheld laws requiring compulsory insurance in state funds on the ground of a “fair and reasonable exercise of governmental power.” Because of the adverse decision of the first N.Y. law, most American compensation acts have been made elective according to the following device. The employer is given the choice of accepting the law or of operating under the liability laws with the old liability defences—fellow-servant's fault, contributory negligence, and assumption of risk—abrogated or greatly modified.
The laws vary greatly in detail. Though a compensation system should apply to all employments and cover all industries, nine main groups are usually excluded (employees in non-hazardous occupations, agricultural labour, domestic servants, employees in interstate commerce, workmen in establishments employing fewer than a given number of persons, public employees, casual labourers, those not engaged in the regular course of the employer's business and those in employments not conducted for gain). Laws of four states and the Federal statute have been amended to include occupational diseases. Medical attendance is usually provided for, though it varies in time limit from two weeks to 90 days and in amount from $50 to $600. An increasing number of states, however, are giving their administrative boards power to use their discretion to increase the period and the amount. The waiting period during which no compensation is paid varies from no waiting period at all to 14 days. The compensation rates range for total disability from 65% of the wage (within certain limits) to 50% with time limitations varying from 208 weeks to 550 weeks, and money limitations from $4,000 to $6,000. Compensation for partial disability is usually based on a fixed schedule of a certain number of weeks' benefit for each specific dismemberment. In a few states it is reckoned as a proportion of the loss of earning power. Most states grant funeral benefits. Few are liberal in prescribing compensation to be paid dependents, which is either a specified monthly amount or a maximum amount ranging from $3,000 to $6,000. In recent years the question of rehabilitation has been given considerable attention, and by 1920 11 states had made provision for the aid of industrial cripples. In that year also, Congress passed a bill to grant Federal aid on the basis of dollar for dollar to states undertaking to rehabilitate industrial cripples. Administration of the laws is usually by a central board with general powers of enforcing the law, though a few states still leave the questions to be settled by the courts. In order to protect both the employer and employee most states compel employers to insure their risks unless they can give satisfactory evidence that they are able to bear serious losses due to accident. Besides this so-called self-insurance, three methods have been developed: insurance in a state fund, which has been established in half of the states; insurance in a stock company and insurance in a mutual or inter-insurance company.
Other forms of social insurance have not received much attention in the United States. Several bills have been introduced in state legislatures on health insurance, unemployment compensation and old-age insurance, but as yet only a few have been enacted for special classes. In 1920 a law establishing compulsory contributory old-age and invalidity insurance for the Federal Government's employees in the classified civil service was enacted. Pensions are provided by state and municipal governments for certain groups of employees, such as policemen, firemen and teachers, and by the Federal Government for soldiers and sailors.
Besides the system of life insurance administered by the savings banks under supervision in Massachusetts, the customary form of protection of widows and orphans is by means of mothers' or widows' pensions paid to certain classes of mothers with dependent children. In the years from 1911 to 1919 39 states, Alaska and Hawaii had enacted such laws. The legislation uniformly provides for straight pensions on condition that the mother is capable of providing a proper home for the child.
Vocational Education.—The Federal Act for the promotion of vocational education in the fields of agriculture, trade, home economics and industry was passed in 1917, and since then there has been a rapid expansion of this form of labour legislation. The law popularly known as the Smith-Hughes Act is based on four ideas, namely: that vocational education is essential to national welfare; that Federal funds are necessary in order to equalize the burden of carrying on the work among the states; that since the Federal Government is vitally interested in the success of vocational education it should, so to speak, purchase a degree of participation in that work; and that only by such Federal and state relationships can proper standards be set up. According to the statute, the Federal Government does not undertake the organization or immediate direction of vocational training in the several states, but agrees to make substantial yearly contributions to its support. The Federal grants are conditional and their acceptance imposes on the state specific obligations. By 1919 every state had accepted the Act.
The Federal law is administered by the Federal Board for Vocational Education, appointed by the President, which consists of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor and the Commissioner of Education, together
with three citizens who represent the manufacturing, commercial, agricultural and labour interests. A staff, composed of a director and four assistant directors, is chosen by the board. The state board, which must be created on acceptance of the Act, is the connecting link between the Federal board and the states. Each year Congress appropriates a given sum, according to a graduated scale increasing up to 1926, when the maximum, $7,367,000, will be reached, which will then become the annual appropriation. Money is granted to the states only on condition that it is matched by an equal amount appropriated for the same purpose (salaries and maintenance of teacher training) by the state, local community or both. In addition state grants must be made for buildings and equipment.
The law deals only with general standards and policies. Each state draws up its own plan of education to meet its own needs, which it submits to the Federal board for approval. The guiding principle laid down is that the education furnished must be under public supervision and control and must be designated to train persons for useful, common, wage-earning employments. It applies to boys and girls of 14 years and over who desire preparation as trained wage-earners, or who, having already taken up a wage-earning employment, seek greater efficiency; and to wage-earners, established in their trade or occupation, who wish to advance to positions of responsibility. No academic studies are to be supported out of the Act. In 1920 3,155 schools were aided.
Prior to the enactment of the Federal law two states had provided for compulsory part-time school attendance. Since then 16 other states have enacted similar measures, and several others have passed permissive mandatory statutes authorizing local districts to establish such schools. The laws vary in detail. The most common ages of required attendance are 14 to 18 years; hours required per week range from four to eight; the length of the school-year varies from 144 hours to the same as that of the common schools. Though the work in the United States is still new, these laws represent one of the most important developments in the labour and educational fields.
Wisconsin has gone one step further in her apprenticeship law, passed in 1911 and revised in 1915. It provides that all minors who receive instruction in a trade as a part of their consideration of employment shall be indentured. All such indentures must be approved by the Industrial Commission and can be enforced against both employer and apprentice. During the first two years of apprenticeship the apprentice must attend a part-time school for five hours each week to receive instruction in the theory of the trade, to supplement shop training. The employer is required to pay for such instruction at the same rate per hour as for service. The Industrial Commission has broad powers to investigate, determine and fix classifications, issue rules and regulations and to enforce the same with penalties. It is the duty of all public-school officers and teachers to coöperate with the commission and employers to furnish the instruction designated. Since all trades must be standardized and different schedules of training outlined, trade committees of employers and journeymen are organized to fix the length of apprenticeship, wages and the various branches to be taught. There is, also, another advisory board composed of employers, employees and educators which is consulted on questions of changes in the general policy governing apprenticeship.
Administration of Labour Laws.—The development of industrial commissions is the most significant fact in the recent history of the administration of labour legislation. The growing complexity of conditions has made it practically impossible to embody sufficient details within laws or to make them flexible enough to provide for constant changes. To meet the varying needs and to set the different standards required, the legislatures at first established special commissions, such as the minimum-wage commissions. This policy, however, led to duplication of functions and conflict of authority, and in their place six states have created industrial commissions which have general administrative control over the branches of labour legislation dealing with minimum wage, hours of labour, public and private employment offices, workmen's compensation and other related laws. Under these statutes the Legislature lays down the general state policy of reasonable standards and leaves to the commission the intricate details of investigation. It is given authority to make the findings necessary for the effective application of the standard to each case or class of cases. It can make classifications and issue different rules for different conditions and can change its rules when conditions change or when it discovers new and more effective remedies. These rulings of the commission are known as orders and are prima facie lawful.
This substitution of administrative rules for legislative details has made it possible to apply the principle of representation of interests. In Wisconsin, for example, joint committees representative of capital and labour are appointed by the employers and workers to serve in an advisory capacity. Generally these committees actually draw up the rules, assisted by the staff of the industrial commission, after an exhaustive coöperative investigation. In some cases, as, for instance, in the determination of the minimum wage, consultation with joint committees is made mandatory. These committees form, in fact, an inferior industrial legislature, composed of leaders and representatives of both interests, who are continually in session under state supervision and working on those details of administration which, after all, are the actual substance of such legislation as is enforced.
Bibliography.—John R. Commons and John B. Andrews, Principles of Labor Legislation (1920); American Association for Labor Legislation, American Labor Legislation Review; U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, and Bulletins; Federal Board for Vocational Education, Annual Reports and Vocational Summary. (J. R. Co.)
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