Study Notes on Theories of Labour Welfare

By Shalini Tyagi|Updated : March 18th, 2022


Theories of Labour Welfare

As per the Committee on Labour Welfare, welfare services should mean, “Such Services, facilities, and amenities as adequate canteens, rest and recreation facilities, sanitary and medical facilities, arrangements for travel to and from the place of work, and for the accommodation of workers employed at a distance”.

The theories of labour welfare reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the agencies engaged in welfare activities. Welfare activities may be provided on some grounds such as religious, philanthropic or other. Various theories with their descriptions are given below:


1- The Policing Theory

  • According to this theory, the factory and other industrial workplaces provide many opportunities for owners as well as managers to exploit workers in an unfair manner. This is done by making the labour work for very long hours, by paying unfair wages, by not keeping the workplace hygienic, by ignoring safety and health provisions like drinking water, canteens, restrooms etc.
  • The welfare state, therefore, has to prevent this exploitation and to do so, it assumes the role of a policeman, and makes it mandatory for the managers of industrial establishments to provide welfare facilities, and also punishes the non-complier.

2- The Religion Theory

  • The Religion theory consists of two aspects, namely, Investment and Atonement.
  • The Investment aspect states that the fruits of today’s deeds will be reaped tomorrow. Therefore, any action, good or bad, is treated as an investment and inspired by this aspect (Investment), some employers plan and organize canteens and crèches.
  • The Atonement aspect of the religion theory states that the current disabilities of an individual are the outcome of the sins committed by him/her previously. Therefore, he/she should pledge to do good deeds now so as to atone or compensate for his/her sins.

3- The Philanthropic Theory

  • Philanthropy refers to affection for mankind. This theory of labour welfare refers to the provision of good working conditions, crèches, canteens, drinking water facilities etc., so as to remove the disabilities of the workers.
  • Employers having concern for their workers may undertake such labour welfare measures for the benefit of workers.

4- The Trusteeship Theory

  • The Trusteeship Theory is also called the Paternalistic Theory of labour welfare.
  • According to this theory, the employer or the industrialist holds the total industrial estate, properties and the profits accruing from them, in trust. Workers are also not able to take care of themselves for reasons such as lack of education, low wages etc.
  • The employers should, therefore, provide for the well being of the workers out of the funds that are in their control.

5- The Placating Theory

  • The Placating theory is based on the assumption that appeasement pays when the workers are organised and are militant.
  • Workers’ demand for higher wages and better working conditions cannot be left unattended. Therefore, some welfare measures need to be taken so as to bring peace.

6- The Public Relations Theory

  • The Public Relations Theory is based on the fact that welfare activities are provided to the workers so as to create a good impression on their minds and the public and this can be done by providing clean and safe working conditions, a good canteen, creche and other measures.
  • Providing such measures help making a good impression on the workers, visitors and the public.

7- The Functional Theory

  • The Functional Theory is also called the Efficiency Theory of labour welfare.
  • It states that welfare facilities are provided so as to make the workers more efficient.
  • The workers will work efficiently if they are treated kindly if they are provided with clean and safe working conditions, good canteens etc.
  • Welfare work is a method of securing, preserving and increasing the efficiency of labour.

8- The Social Theory

The Social Theory of labour welfare states that along with improving the condition of its employees an industrial establishment is also morally bound to improve the conditions of the society.


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