Some of the general approaches in the evolution of concept of the labour welfare are: 1. Paternalistic Approach 2. Industrial Efficiency Approach and 3. Social Approach.
Labour welfare is a dynamic concept and it has constantly adopted itself to the changing circumstances.
This development is, however, evolutionary. There have been three general approaches in the evolution of the concept.
In the early phase of industrialisation i.e., during the early days of this century, the paternalistic approach of labour welfare was adopted. The employers of those days started providing such facilities duly motivated by philanthrophic, humanitarian and religious considerations.
In those days, the employers maintained direct contact with their workmen. Hence, they were in a position to understand their problems, difficulties and strains. But those days have gone and at present provision of welfare amenities can no longer be regarded as an act of charity.
The next step in the evolutionary process was the industrial efficiency approach. With the passage of time, the size of business undertakings became large. They were organised in the form of joint stock companies and there was a total separation of ownership and management.
Hence, the so called employers were no longer able to maintain direct contact with the workers. Besides, there was also an acute need for increase in production etc. The persons at the helm of affairs felt that the problem of increasing efficiency can be tackled only through provision of welfare facilities to the employees. But this approach was not free from defects.
Trade unions strongly opposed it. They felt that the workers welfare could not be treated at par with the problems of care, maintenance and up keep of machines. J.A.C. Brown made a pointed reference about this weakness and stated that motive behind the provision of such facilities was wrong and selfish.
Facilities were provided not for any social cause or with broad outlook but to increase the efficiency of the workers which ultimately bring profit to the pockets of the industrialists. Hence this approach also became unpopular.
The latest trend in the concept of labour welfare is the shift of emphasis from that of increased efficiency to the promotion of the general welfare of the workers. This social approach does neither involve any philanthropic consideration nor the ulterior motive of increasing the level of labour efficiency.
In other words, labour welfare is an end itself and the development of loyalty towards the employer and increase in efficiency is only incidental. However, it is believed that improvement of workers morale, efficiency and loyalty shall be the natural outcome of such provisions. This approach is welcomed by the workers and their unions.