Now days, welfare has been generally accepted by employers as a social right. But the degree of importance given by them varies.
Therefore, the Government also intervenes and introduces legislation from time to time to bring about uniformity in providing such amenities. The intervention of the state, however, is only to widen the area of its applicability.
Labour welfare is a flexible and elastic concept. Its meaning and implications differ widely with times, regions, industries, countries, social values and customs, the general economic development of the people and the political ideologies prevailing at particular moments. As such, a precise definition is rather difficult.
1. In the words of Prof. H.S. Kirkaldy. “The whole field of welfare is one in which much can be done to combat the sense of frustration of the industrial workers, to relieve them of the personal and family worries, to improve their health, to offer them some sphere in which they can excel others and to help them to a wider conception of life.”
2. In the second Asian Regional Conference of ILO, it was stated that workers’ welfare may be understood to mean “such services, facilities and amenities which may be established in or in the vicinity of undertakings to enable the persons employed in them to perform their work in healthy and peaceful surroundings and to avail of facilities which improve their health and high morale.”
3. According to Balfour committee, “Labour welfare refers to the efforts made by the employers to improve the working and living conditions over and above the wages paid to them. In its widest sense it comprises all matters affecting the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the workmen, and includes provision for education, recreation, thrift schemes, convalescent homes”. It covers almost fields of activities of workers e.g., social, economic, industrial and educational.
4. According to Labour Investigation Committee. “Anything done for the intellectual, physical, moral and economic betterment of the workers, whether by the employers, by the government or by other agencies over and above what is laid down by law or what is normally expected on the part of the contractual benefits for which worker may have bargained.”
This is really an exhaustive definition. It covers and highlights all the important aspects of the concept of labour welfare.
5. According to N.M. Joshi, “welfare work covers all the efforts which employers take for the benefit of their employees over and above the minimum standards of working conditions fixed by the Factories Act and over and above the provisions of the social legislation providing against accident, old age, unemployment and sickness”.
Labour welfare implies the setting up of minimum desirable standards of the provision of facilities like health, food, clothing, housing, medical assistance, education, insurance, job security, recreation etc. Such facilities enable the worker and his family to lead a good working life, family life and social life.
Labour Welfare thus embraces in its fold all efforts which have their object of improvement of health, safety welfare and general well-being of the workers. It is confined to those activities which are undertaken statutorily or otherwise, inside the industrial premises or outside by any agency, government, employers which do not come under social insurance conditions, and which lead to improvement in health, efficiency and happiness of industrial workers and their families e.g. recreational, medical, educational, washing, bathing, transport facilities canteens and creches, etc. Thus, the term labour welfare covers not only the workers but also their families.