History of Labour Legislation in the UK
In England there were, at the begining of the 20th Century, a notable disappearance from the use of correlative terms implying a social relationship which is greatly changed, for example, in the rapid passage from the Master and Servant Act 1867 to the Employer and Workman Act 1875. In the 18th century the term “manufacturer” passed from its application to a working craftsman to its modern connotation of at least some command of capital, the employer being no longer a small working master. An even more significant later change is seen in the steady development of a labour legislation, which arose in a clamant social need for the care of specially helpless “protected” persons in factories and mines, into a wider legislation for the promotion of general industrial health, safety and freedom for the worker from fraud in making or carrying out wage contracts.
If, then, we can discern these signs of important changes within so short a period, great caution is needed in rapidly reviewing long periods of time prior to that industrial revolution which is traced mainly to the application of mechanical power to machinery in aid of manual labour, practically begun and completed within the second half of the 18th century. “In 1740 save for the fly-shuttle the loom was as it had been since weaving had begun . . . and the law of the land was” (under the Act of Apprentices of 1563) “that wages in each district should be assessed by Justices of the Peace.” Turning back to still earlier times, legislation — whatever its source or authority — must clearly be devoted to aims very different from modern aims in regulating labour, when it arose before the labourer, as a man dependent on an “employer” for the means of doing work, had appeared, and when migratory labour was almost unknown through the serfdom of part of the population and the special status secured in towns to the artisan.
In the great civilizations of antiquity there were great aggregations of labour which was not solely, though frequently it was predominantly, slave labour; and some of the features of manufacture and mining on a great scale arose, producing the same sort of evils and industrial maladies known and regulated in our own times. Some of the maladies were described by Pliny and classed as “diseases of slaves.” And he gave descriptions of processes, for example in the metal trades, as belonging entirely to his own day, which modern archaeological discoveries trace back through the earliest known Aryan civilizations to a prehistoric origin in the East, and which have never died out in western Europe, but can .be traced in a concentrated manufacture with almost unchanged methods, now in France, now in Germany, now in England.
Little would be gained in such a sketch as this by an endeavour to piece together the scattered and scanty materials for a comparative history of the varying conditions and methods of labour regulation over so enormous a range. While our knowledge continually increases of the remains of ancient craft, skill and massed labour, much has yet to be discovered that may throw light on methods of organization of the labourers. While much, and in some civilizations most, of the labour was compulsory or forced, it is clear that too much has been sometimes assumed, and it is by no means certain that even the pyramids of Egypt, much less the beautiful earliest Egyptian products in metal work, weaving and other skilled craft work, were, typical products of slave labour. Even in Rome it was only at times that the proportion of slaves valued as property was greater than that of hired workers, or, apart from capture in war or self-surrender in discharge of a debt, that purchase of slaves by the trader, manufacturer or agriculturist was generally considered the cheapest means of securing labour. As in early England the various stages of village industrial life, medieval town manufacture, and organization in craft gilds, and the beginnings of the mercantile system, were parallel with a greater or less prevalence of serfdom and even with the presence in part of slavery, so in other ages and civilizations the various methods of organization of labour are found to some extent together. The Germans in their primitive settlements were accustomed to the notion of slavery, and in the decline of the Roman Empire Roman captives from among the most useful craftsmen were carried away by their northern conquerors.
History in the United Kingdom
Until the Close of the 15th Century
Of the main conditions of industrial labour in early Anglo-Saxon England details are scanty. Monastic industrial communities were added in Christian times to village industrial communities. While generally husbandry was the first object of toil, and developed under elaborate regulation in the manorial system, still a considerable variety of industries grew up, the aim being expressly to make each social group self-sufficing, and to protect and regulate village artisans in the interest of village resources. This protective system, resting on a communal or co-operative view of labour and social life, has been compared as analogous to the much later and wider system under which the main purpose was to keep England as a whole self-sufficing. It has also been shown how greatly a fresh spirit of enterprise in industry and trade was stimulated first by the Danish and next by the Norman invasion; the former brought in a vigour shown in growth of villages, increase in number of freemen, and formation of trading towns; the latter especially opened up new communications with the most civilized continental people, and was followed by a considerable immigration of artisans, particularly of Flemings. In Saxon England slavery in the strictest sense existed, as is shown in the earliest English laws, but it seems that the true slave class as distinct from the serf class was comparatively small, and it may well be that the labour of an ordinary serf was not practically more severe, and the remuneration in maintenance and kind not much less than that of agricultural labourers in recent times. In spite of the steady protest of the Church, slavery (as the exception, not the general rule) did not die out for many centuries, and was apt to be revived as a punishment for criminals, e.g. in the fierce provisions of the statute of Edward VI. against beggars, not repealed until 1597. At no time, however, was it general, and as the larger village and city populations grew the ratio of serfs and slaves to the freemen in the whole population rapidly diminished, for the city populations “had not the habit and use of slavery,” and while serfs might sometimes find a refuge in the cities from exceptionally severe taskmasters, “there is no doubt that freemen gradually united with them under the lord’s protection, that strangers engaged in trade sojourned among them, and that a race of artisans gradually grew up in which original class feelings were greatly modified.” From these conditions grew two parallel tendencies in regulation of labour. On the one hand there was, under royal charters, the burgh or municipal organization and control of artisan and craft labour, passing later into the more, specialized organization in craft gilds; on the other hand, there was a necessity, sometimes acute, to prevent undue diminution in the numbers available for husbandry or agricultural labour. To the latter cause must be traced a provision appearing in a succession of statutes (see especially an act of Richard II., 1388), that a child under twelve years once employed in agriculture might never be transferred to apprenticeship in a craft. The steady development of England, first as a wool-growing, later as a cloth-producing country, would accentuate this difficulty. During the 13th century, side by side with development of trading companies for the export of wool from England, may be noted many agreements on the part of monasteries to sell their wool to Florentines, and during the same century absorption of alien artisans into the municipal system was practically completed. Charters of Henry I. provided for naturalization of these aliens. From the time of Edward I. to Edward III. a gradual transference of burgh customs, so far as recognized for the common good, to statute law was in progress, together with an assertion of the rights of the crown against ecclesiastical orders. “The statutes of Edward I.,” says Dr. Cunningham, “mark the first attempt to deal with Industry and Trade as a public matter which concerns the whole state, not as the particular affair of leading men in each separate locality.” The first direct legislation for labour by statute, however, is not earlier than the twenty-third year of the reign of Edward III., and it arose in an attempt to control the decay and ruin, both in rural and urban districts, which followed the Hundred Years’ War, and the pestilence known as the Black Death.
This first “Statute of Labourers” was designed for the benefit of the community, not for the protection of labour or prevention of oppression, and the policy of enforcing customary wages and compelling the able-bodied labourer, whether free or bond, not living in merchandise or exercising any craft, to work for hire at recognized rates of pay, must be reviewed in the circumstances and ideals of the time. Regulation generally in the middle ages aimed at preventing any individual or section of the community from making what was considered an exceptional profit through the necessity of others. The scarcity of labour by the reduction of the population through pestilence was not admitted as a justification for the demands for increased pay, and while the unemployed labourer was liable to be committed to gaol if he refused service at current rates, the lords of the towns or manors who promised or paid more to their servants were liable to be sued treble the sum in question. Similar restrictions were made applicable to artificers and workmen. By another statute, two years later, labourers or artificers who left their work and went into another county were liable to be arrested by the sheriff and brought back. These and similar provisions with similar aims were confirmed by statutes of 1360, 1368 and 1388, but the act of 1360, while prohibiting “all alliances and covins of masons, carpenters, congregations, chapters, ordinances and oaths betwixt them made,” allowed “every lord to bargain or covenant for their works in gross with such labourers and artificers when it pleaseth them, so that they perform such works well and lawfully according to the bargain and covenant with them thereof made.” Powers were given by the acts of 1368 and 1388 to justices to determine matters under these statutes and to fix wages. Records show that workmen of various descriptions were pressed by writs addressed to sheriffs to work for their king at wages regardless of their will as to terms and place of work. These proceedings were founded on notions of royal prerogative, of which impressment of seamen survived as an example to a far later date. By an act of 1388 no servant or labourer, man or woman, however, could depart out of the hundred to serve elsewhere unless bearing a letter patent under the king’s seal stating the cause of going and time of return. Such provisions would appear to have widely failed in their purpose, for an act of 1414 declares that the servants and labourers fled from county to county, and justices were empowered to send writs to the sheriffs for fugitive labourers as for felons, and to examine labourers, servants and their masters, as well as artificers, and to punish them on confession. An act of 1405, while putting a property qualification on apprenticeship and requiring parents under heavy penalties to put their children to such labour as their estates required, made a reservation giving freedom to any person “to send their children to school to learn literature.” Up to the end of the 15th century a monotonous succession of statutes strengthening, modifying, amending the various attempts (since the first Statute of Labourers) to limit free movement of labour, or demands by labourers for increased wages, may be seen in the acts of 1411, 1427, 1444, 1495. It was clearly found extremely difficult, if not impracticable, to carry out the minute control of wages considered desirable, and exceptions in favour of certain occupations were in some of the statutes themselves. In 1512 the penalties for giving wages contrary to law were repealed so far as related to masters, but it also appears that London work- men would not endure the prevalent restrictions as to wages, and that they secured in practice a greater freedom to arrange rates when working within the city. Several of these statutes, and especially one of 1514, fixed the hours of labour when limiting wages. During March to September the limits were 5 A.M. to 7 or 8 P.M., with half an hour off for breakfast and an hour and a half off for midday dinner. In winter the outside limits were fixed by the length of daylight.
Throughout the 15th century the rapidly increasing manufacture of cloth was subject to a regulation which aimed at maintaining the standard of production and prevention of bad workmanship, and the noteworthy statute 4 Edward IV. c. 1, while giving power to royal officers to supervise size of cloths, modes of sealing, &c., also repressed payment to workers in “pins, girdles and unprofitable wares,” and ordained payment in true and lawful money. This statute (the first against “Truck”) gives an interesting picture of the way in which clothiers — or, as we should call them, wholesale merchants and manufacturers — delivered wool to spinners, carders, &c., by weight, and paid for the work when brought back finished. It appears that the work was carried on in rural as well as town districts. While this industry was growing and thriving other trades remained backward, and agriculture was in a depressed condition. Craft gilds had primarily the same purpose as the Edwardian statutes, that is, of securing that the public should be well served with good wares, and that the trade and manufacture itself should be on a sound basis as to quality of products and should flourish. Incidentally there was considerable regulation by the gilds of the conditions of labour, but not primarily in the interests of the labourer. Thus night work was prohibited because it tended to secrecy and so to bad execution of work; working on holidays was prohibited to secure fair play between craftsmen and so on. The position of apprentices was made clear through indentures, but the position of journeymen was less certain. Signs are not wanting of a struggle between journeymen and masters, and towards the end of the 15th century masters themselves, in at least the great wool trade, tended to develop from craftsmen into something more like the modern capitalist employer; from an act of 1555 touching weavers it is quite clear that this development had greatly advanced and that cloth-making was carried on largely by employers with large capitals. Before this, however, while a struggle went on between the town authorities and the craft gilds, journeymen began to form companies of their own, and the result of the various conflicts may be seen in an act of Henry VI., providing that in future new ordinances of gilds shall be submitted to justices of the peace — a measure which was strengthened in 1503.
From Tudor Days until the Close of the 18th Century
A detailed history of labour regulation in the 16th century would include some account of the Tudor laws against vagrancy and methods of dealing with the increase of pauperism, attributable, at least in part, to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII., and to the confiscation of craft gild funds, which proceeded under Somerset and Edward VI. It is sufficient here to point to the general recognition of the public right to compel labourers to work and thus secure control of unemployed as well as employed. The statutes of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. against vagrancy differed rather in degree of severity than in principle from legislation for similar purposes in previous and subsequent reigns. The Statute of Labourers, passed in the fifth year of Elizabeth ‘s reign (1562), as well as the poor law of the same year, was to a considerable extent both a consolidating and an amending code of law, and was so securely based on public opinion and deeply rooted custom that it was maintained in force for two centuries. It avowedly approves of principles and aims in earlier acts, regulating wages, punishing refusal to work, and preventing free migration of labour. It makes, however, a great advance in its express aim of protecting the poor labourer against insufficient wages, and of devising a machinery, by frequent meeting of justices, which might yield “unto the hired person both in time of scarcity and in time of plenty a convenient proportion of wages.” Minute regulations were made governing the contract between master and servant, and their mutual rights and obligations on parallel lines for (a) artificers, (b) labourers in husbandry. Hiring was to be by the year, and any unemployed person qualified in either calling was bound to accept service on pain of imprisonment, if required, unless possessed of property of a specified amount or engaged in art, science or letters, or being a “gentleman.” Persons leaving a service were bound to obtain a testimonial, and might not be taken into fresh employment without producing such testimonial, or, if in a new district, until after showing it to the authorities of the place. A master might be fined £5, and a labourer imprisoned, and if contumacious, whipped, for breach of this rule. The carefully devised scheme for technical training of apprentices embodied to a considerable extent the methods and experiences of the craft gilds. Hours of labour were as follows: “All artificers and labourers being hired for wages by the day or week shall, betwixt the midst of the months of March and September, be and continue at their work at or before 5 o’clock in the morning and continue at work and not depart until betwixt 7 and 8 o’clock at night, except it be in the time of breakfast, dinner or drinking, the which time at the most shall not exceed two hours and a half in a day, that is to say, at every drinking half an hour, for his dinner one hour and for his sleep when he is allowed to sleep, the which is from the midst of May to the midst of August, half an hour; and all the said artificers and labourers betwixt the midst of September and the midst of March shall be and continue at their work from the spring of the day in the morning until the night of the same day, except it be in time afore appointed for breakfast and dinner, upon pain to lose and forfeit one penny for every hour’s absence, to be deducted and defaulked out of his wages that shall so offend.” Although the standpoint of the Factory Act and Truck Act in force at the beginning of the 20th century as regards hours of labour or regulation of fines deducted from wages is completely reversed, yet the difference is not great between the average length of hours of labour permissible under the present law for women and those hours imposed upon the adult labourer in Elizabeth’s statute. Apart from the stand-point of compulsory imposition of fines, one advantage in the definiteness of amount deductable from wages would appear to be on the side of the earlier statute.
Three points remain to be touched on in connexion with the Elizabethan poor law. In addition to (a) consolidation of measures for setting vagrants to work, we find the first compulsory contributions from the well-to-do towards poor relief there provided for, (b) at least a theoretical recognition of a right as well as an obligation on the part of the labourer to be hired, (c) careful provision for the apprenticing of destitute children and orphans to a trade.
One provision of considerable interest arose in Scotland, which was nearly a century later in organizing provisions for fixing conditions of hire and wages of workmen, labourers and servants, similar to those consolidated in the Elizabethan Statute of Labourers. In 1617 it was provided (and reaffirmed in 1661) that power should be given to the sheriffs to compel payment of wages, “that servants may be the more willing to obey the ordinance.” The difficulties in regulation of compulsory labour in Scotland must, however, have been great, for in 1672 houses of correction were erected for disobedient servants, and masters of these houses were empowered to force them to work and to correct them according to their demerits. While servants in manufacture were compelled to work at reasonable rates they might not enter on a new hire without their previous master’s consent.
Such legislation continued, at least theoretically, in force until the awakening effected by the beginning of the industrial revolution — that is, until the combined effects of steady concentration of capital in the hands of employers and expansion of trade, followed closely by an unexampled development of invention in machinery and application of power to its use, completely altered the face of industrial England. From time to time, in respect of particular trades, provisions against truck and for payment of wages in current coin, similar to the act of Edward IV. in the woollen industry, were found necessary, and this branch of labour legislation developed through the reigns of Anne and the four Georges until consolidation and amendment were effected, after the completion of the industrial revolution, in the Truck Act of 1831. From the close of the 17th century and during the 18th century the legislature is no longer mainly engaged in devising means for compelling labourers and artisans to enter into involuntary service, but rather in regulating the summary powers of justices of the peace in the matter of dispute between masters and servants in relation to contracts and agreements, express or implied, presumed to have been entered into voluntarily on both sides. While the movement to refer labour questions to the jurisdiction of the justices thus gradually developed, the main subject matter for their exercise of jurisdiction in regard to labour also changed, even when theoretically for a time the two sets of powers such as (a) moderation of craft gild ordinances and punishment of workers refusing hire, or (b) fixing scales of wages and enforcement of labour contracts — might be concurrently exercised. Even in an act of George II. (1746) for settlement of disputes and differences as to wages or other conditions under a contract of labour, power was retained for the justices, on complaint of the masters of misdemeanour or ill-behaviour on the part of the servant, to discharge the latter from service or to send him to a house of correction “there to be corrected,” that is, to be held to hard labour for a term not exceeding a month or to be corrected by whipping. In an act with similar aims of George IV. (1823), with a rather-wider scope, the power to order corporal punishment, and in 1867 to hard labour, for breach of labour contracts had disappeared, and soon after the middle of the 19th century the right to enforce contracts of labour also disappeared. Then breach of such labour contracts became simply a question of recovery of damages, unless both parties agreed that security for performance of the contract shall be given instead of damages.
While the endeavour to enforce labour apart from a contract died out in the latter end of the 18th century, sentiment for some time had strongly grown in favour of developing early industrial training of children. It appears to have been a special object of charitable and philanthropic endeavour in the 17th century, as well as the 18th, to found houses of industry, in which little children, even under five years of age, might be trained for apprenticeship with employers. Connected as this development was with poor relief, one of its chief aims was to prevent future unemployment and vagrancy by training in habits and knowledge of industry, but not unavowed was another motive: “from children thus trained up to constant labour we may venture to hope the lowering of its price.” The evils and excesses which lay enfolded within such a movement gave the first impulse to the new ventures in labour legislation which are specially the work of the 19th century. Evident as it is “that before the Industrial Revolution very young children were largely employed both in their own homes and as apprentices under the Poor Law,” and that “long before Peel’s time there were misgivings about the apprenticeship system,” still it needed the concentration and prominence of suffering and injury to child life in the factory system to lead to parliamentary intervention.
3. From 1800 to the Codes of 1872 and 1878. — A serious outbreak of fever in 1784 in cotton mills near Manchester appears to have first drawn widespread and influential public opinion to the overwork of children, under terribly dangerous and insanitary conditions, on which the factory system was then largely being carried on. A local inquiry, chiefly by a group of medical men presided over by Dr Percival, was instituted by the justices of the peace for Lancashire, and in the forefront of the resulting report stood a recommendation for limitation and control of the working hours of the children. A resolution by the county justices followed, in which they declared their intention in future to refuse “indentures of parish Apprentices whereby they shall be bound to Owners of Cotton Mills and other works in which children are obliged to work in the night or more than ten hours in the day.” In 1795 the Manchester Board of Health was formed, which, with fuller information, more definitely advised legislation for the regulation of the hours and conditions of labour in factories. In 1802 the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act was passed, which in effect formed the first step towards prevention of injury to and protection of labour in factories. It was directly aimed only at evils of the apprentice system, under which large numbers of pauper children were worked in cotton and woollen mills without education, for excessive hours, under wretched conditions. It did not apply to places employing fewer than twenty persons or three apprentices, and it applied the principle of limitation of hours (to twelve a day) and abolition of night work, as well as educational requirements, only to apprentices. Religious teaching and suitable sleeping accommodation and clothing were provided for in the act, also as regards apprentices. Lime-washing and ventilation provisions applied to all cotton and woollen factories employing more than twenty persons. “Visitors” were to be appointed by county justices for repression of contraventions, and were empowered to “direct the adoption of such sanitary regulations as they might on advice think proper.” The mills were to be registered by the clerk of the peace, and justices had power to inflict fines of from 2 to 5 for contraventions. Although enforcement of the very limited provisions of the act was in many cases poor or non-existent, in some districts excellent work was done by justices, and in 1803 the West Riding of Yorkshire justices passed a resolution substituting the ten hours’ limit for the twelve hours’ limit of the act, as a condition of permission for indenturing of apprentices in mills.
Rapid development of the application of steam power to manufacture led to growth of employment of children in populous centres, otherwise than on the apprenticeship system, and before long the evils attendant on this change brought the general question of regulation and protection of child labour in textile factories to the front. The act of 1819, limited as it was, was a noteworthy step forward, in that it dealt with this wider scope of employment of children in cotton factories, and it is satisfactory to record that it was the outcome of the efforts and practical experiments of a great manufacturer, Robert Owen. Its provisions fell on every point lower than the aims he put forward on his own experience as practicable, and notably in its application only to cotton mills instead of all textile factories. Prohibition of child labour under nine years of age and limitation of the working day to twelve in the twenty-four (without specifying the precise hour of beginning and closing) were the main provisions of this act. No provision was made for enforcement of the law beyond such as was attempted in the act of 1802. Slight amendments were attempted in the acts of 1825 and 1831, but the first really important factory act was in 1833 applying to textile factories generally, limiting employment of young persons under eighteen years of age, as well as children, prohibiting night work between 8.30 P.M. and 5.30 A.M., and first providing for “inspectors” to enforce the law. This is the act which was based on the devoted efforts of Michael Sadler, with whose name in this connexion that of Lord Ashley, afterwards earl of Shaftesbury, was from 1832 associated. The importance of this act lay in its provision for skilled inspection and thus for enforcement of the law by an independent body of men unconnected with the locality in which the manufactures lay, whose specialization in their work enabled them to acquire information needed for further development of legislation for protection of labour. Their powers were to a certain extent judicial, being assimilated to those possessed by justices; they could administer oaths and make such “rules, regulations and orders” as were necessary for execution of the act, and could hear complaints and impose penalties under the act. In 1844 a textile factory act modified these extensive inspectoral powers, organizing the service on lines resembling those of our own time, and added provision for certifying surgeons to examine workers under sixteen years of age as to physical fitness for employment and to grant certificates of age and ordinary strength. Hours of labour, by the act of 1833, were limited for children under eleven to 9 a day or 48 in the week, and for young persons under eighteen to 12 a day or 69 in the week. Between 1833 and 1844 the movement in favour of a ten hours’ day, which had long been in progress, reached its height in a time of great commercial and industrial distress, but could not be carried into effect until 1847. By the act of 1844 the hours of adult women were first regulated, and were limited (as were already those of “young persons”) to 12 a day; children were permitted either to work the same hours on alternate days or “half-time,” with compulsory school attendance as a condition of their employment. The aim in thus adjusting the hours of the three classes of workers was to provide for a practical standard working-day. For the first time detailed provisions for health and safety began to make their appearance in the law. Penal compensation for preventible injuries due to unfenced machinery was also provided, and appears to have been the outcome of a discussion by witnesses before the Royal Commission on Labour of Young Persons in Mines and Manufactures in 1841.
From this date, 1841, begin the first attempts at protective legislation for labour in mining. The first Mines Act of 1842 following the terrible revelations of the Royal Commission referred to excluded women and girls from underground working, and limited the employment of boys, excluding from underground working those under ten years, but it was not until 1850 that systematic reporting of fatal accidents and until 1855 that other safeguards for health, life and limb in mines were seriously provided by law. With the exception of regulations against truck there was no protection for the miner before 1842; before 1814 it was not customary to hold inquests on miners killed by accidents in mines. From 1842 onwards considerable interaction in the development of the two sets of acts (mines and factories), as regards special protection against industrial injury to health and limb, took place, both in parliament and in the department (Home Office) administering them. Another strong influence tending towards ultimate development of scientific protection of health and life in industry began in the work and reports of the series of sanitary commissions and Board of Health reports from 1843 onwards. In 1844 the mines inspector made his first report, but two years later women were still employed to some extent underground. Organized inspection began in 1850, and in 1854 the Select Committee on Accidents adopted a suggestion of the inspectors for legislative extension of the practice of several colliery owners in framing special safety rules for working in mines. The act of 1855 provided seven general rules, relating to ventilation, fencing of disused shafts, proper means for signalling, proper gauges and valve for steam-boiler, indicator and brake for machine lowering and raising; also it provided that detailed special rules submitted by mine-owners to the secretary of state, might, on his approval, have the force of law and be enforceable by penalty. The Mines Act of 1860, besides extending the law to ironstone mines, following as it did on a series of disastrous accidents and explosions, strengthened some of the provisions for safety. At several inquests strong evidence was given of incompetent management and neglect of rules, and a demand was made for enforcing employment only of certificated managers of coal mines. This was not met until the act of 1872, but in 1860 certain sections relating to wages and education were introduced. Steady development of the coal industry, increasing association among miners, and increased scientific knowledge of means of ventilation and of other methods for securing safety, all paved the way to the Coal Mines Act of 1872, and in the same year health and safety in metalliferous mines received their first legislative treatment in a code of similar scope and character to that of the Coal Mines Act. This act was amended in 1886, and repealed and recodified in 1887; its principal provisions are still in force, with certain revised special rules and modifications as regards reporting of accidents (1906) and employment of children (1903). It was based on the recommendations of a Royal Commission, which had reported in 1864, and which had shown the grave excess of mortality and sickness among metalliferous miners, attributed to the inhalation of gritty particles, imperfect ventilation, great changes of temperature, excessive physical exertion, exposure to wet, and other causes. The prohibition of employment of women and of boys under ten years underground in this class of mines, as well as in coal mines, had been effected by the act of 1842, and inspection had been provided for in the act of 1860; these were in amended form included in the code of 1872, the age of employment of boys underground being raised to twelve. In the Coal Mines Act of 1872 we see the first important effort to provide a complete code of regulation for the special dangers to health, life and limb in coal mines apart from other mines; it applied to “mines of coal, mines of stratified ironstone, mines of shale and mines of fire-clay.” Unlike the companion act — applying to all other mines — it maintained the age limit of entering underground employment for boys at ten years, but for those between ten and twelve it provided for a system of working analogous to the half-time system in factories, including compulsory school attendance. The limits of employment for boys from twelve to sixteen were 10 hours in any one day and 54 in anyone week. The chief characteristics of the act lay in extension of the “general” safety rules, improvement of the method of formulating “special” safety rules, provision for certificated and competent management, and increased inspection. Several important matters were transferred from the special to the general rules, such as compulsory use of safety lamps where needed, regulation of use of explosives, and securing of roofs and sides. Special rules, before being submitted to the secretary of state for approval, must be posted in the mine for two weeks, with a notice that objections might be sent by any person employed to the district inspector. Wilful neglect of safety provisions became punishable in the case of employers as well as miners by imprisonment with hard labour. But the most important new step lay in the sections relating to daily control and supervision of every mine by a manager holding a certificate of competency from the secretary of state, after examination by a board of examiners appointed by the secretary of state, power being retained for him to cause later inquiry into competency of the holder of the certificate, and to cancel or suspend the certificate in case of proved unfitness.
Returning to the development of factory and workshop law from the year 1844, the main line of effort — after the act of 1847 had restricted hours of women and young persons to 10 a day and fixed the daily limits between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M. (Saturday 6 A.M. to 2 P.M.) — lay in bringing trade after trade in some degree under the scope of this branch of law, which had hitherto only regulated conditions in textile factories. Bleaching and dyeing works were included by the acts of 1860 and 1862; lace factories by that of 1861; calendering and finishing by acts of 1863 and 1864; bakehouses became partially regulated by an act of 1863, with special reference to local authorities for administration of its clauses. The report of the third Children’s Employment Commission brought together in accessible form the miserable facts relating to child labour in a number of unregulated industries in the year 1862, and the act of 1864 brought some of (these (earthenware-making, lucifer match-making, percussion cap and cartridge making, paper-staining, and fustian cutting) partly under the scope of the various textile factory acts in force. A larger addition of trades was made three years later, but the act of 1864 is particularly interesting in that it first embodied some of the results of inquiries of expert medical and sanitary commissioners, by requiring ventilation to be applied to the removal of injurious gases, dust, and other impurities generated in manufacture, and made a first attempt to engraft part of the special rules system from the mines acts. The provisions for framing such rules disappeared in the Consolidating Act of 1878, to be revived in a better form later. The Sanitary Act of 1866, administered by local authorities, provided for general sanitation in any factories and workshops not under existing factory acts, and the Workshops Regulation Act of 1867, similarly to be administered by local authorities, amended in 1870, practically completed the application of the main principle of the factory acts to all places in which manual labour was exercised for gain in the making or finishing of articles or parts of articles for sale. A few specially dangerous or injurious trades brought under regulation in 1864 and 1867 (e.g. earthenware and lucifer match making, glass-making) ranked as “factories,” although not using mechanical power, and for a time employment of less than fifty persons relegated certain work-places to the category of “workshops,” but broadly the presence or absence of such motor power in aid of process was made and has remained the distinction between factories and workshops. The Factory Act of 1874, the last of the series before the great Consolidating Act of 1878, raised the minimum age of employment for children to ten years in textile factories. In most of the great inquiries into conditions of child labour the fact has come clearly to light, in regard to textile and non-textile trades alike, that parents as much as any employers have been responsible for too early employment and excessive hours of employment of children, and from early times until to-day in factory legislation it has been recognized that they must to some extent be held responsible for due observation of the limits imposed. For example, in 1831 it was found necessary to protect occupiers against parental responsibility for false certificates of age, and in 1833 parents of a child or “any Person having any benefit from the wages of such child” were made to share responsibility for employment of children without school attendance or beyond legal hours.
During the discussions on the bill which became law in 1874, it had become apparent that revision and consolidation of the multiplicity of statutes then regulating manufacturing industry had become pressingly necessary; modifications and exceptions for exceptional conditions in separate industries needed reconsideration and systematization on clear principles, and the main requirements of the law could with great advantage be applied more generally to all the industries. In particular, the daily limits as to period of employment, pauses for meals, and holidays, needed to be unified for non-textile factories and workshops, so as to bring about a standard working-day, and thus prevent the tendency in “the larger establishments to farm out work among the smaller, where it is done under less favourable conditions both sanitary and educational.” In these main directions, and that of simplifying definitions, summarizing special sanitary provisions that had been gradually introduced for various trades, and centralizing and improving the organization of the inspectorate, the Commission of 1876 on the Factory Acts made its recommendations, and the Factory Act of 1878 took effect. In the fixed working-day, provisions for pauses, holidays, general and special exceptions, distinctions between systems of employment for children, young persons and women, education of children and certificates of fitness for children and young persons, limited regulation of domestic workshops, general principles of administration and definitions, the law of 1878 was made practically the same as that embodied in the later principal act of 1901. More or less completely revised are: (a) the sections in the 1878 act relating to mode of controlling sanitary conditions in workshops (since 1891 primarily enforced by the local sanitary authority); (b) provision for reporting accidents and for enforcing safety (other than fencing of mill gearing and dangerous machinery); (c) detailed regulation of injurious and dangerous process and trades; (d) powers of certifying surgeons; (e) amount of overtime permissible (greatly reduced in amount and now confined to adults); (f) age for permissible employment of a child has been raised from ten years to twelve years. Entirely new since the act of 1878 are the provisions: (a) for control of outwork; (b) for supplying particulars of work and wages to piece-workers, enabling them to compute the total amount of wages payable to them; (e) extension of the act to laundries; (f) a tentative effort to limit the too early employment of mothers after childbirth.
Law of United Kingdom, 1910
Factories and Workshops
The act of 1878 remained until 1901, although much had been meanwhile superimposed, a monument to the efforts of the great factory reformers of the first half of the 19th century, and the general groundwork of safety for workers in factories and workshops in the main divisions of sanitation, security against accidents, physical fitness of workers, general limitation of hours and times of employment for young workers and women. The act of 1901, which came into force 1st January 1902 (and became the principal act), was an amending as well as a consolidating act. Comparison of the two acts shows, however, that, in spite of the advantages of further consolidation and helpful changes in arrangement of sections and important additions which tend towards a specialized hygiene for factory life, the fundamental features of the law as fought out in the 19th century remain undisturbed. So far as the law has altered in character, it has done so chiefly by gradual development of certain sanitary features, originally subordinate, and by strengthening provision for security against accidents and not by retreat from its earlier aims. At the same time a basis for possible new developments can be seen in the protection of “outworkers” as well as factory workers against fraudulent or defective particulars of piece-work rates of wages.
Later acts directly and indirectly affecting the law are certain acts of 1903, 1906, 1907, to be touched on presently.
The act of 1878, in a series of acts from 1883 to 1895, received striking additions, based (1) on the experience gained in other Addition to act of 1878. branches of protective legislation, e.g. development of the method of regulation of dangerous trades by “special rules” and administrative inquiry into accidents under Coal Mines Acts; (2) on the findings of royal commissions and parliamentary inquiries, e.g. increased control of “outwork” and domestic workshops, and limitation of “overtime”; (3) on the development of administrative machinery for enforcing the more modern law relating to public health, e.g. transference of administration of sanitary provisions in workshops to the local sanitary authorities; (4) on the trade-union demand for means for securing trustworthy records of wage-contracts between employer and workman, e.g. the section requiring particulars of work and wages for piece-workers. The first additions to the act of 1878 were, however, almost purely attempts to deal more adequately than had been attempted in the code of 1878 with certain striking instances of trades injurious to health. Thus the Factory and Workshop Act of 1883 provided that white-lead factories should not be carried on without a certificate of conformity with certain conditions, and also made provision for special rules, on lines later superseded by those laid down in the act of 1891, applicable to any employment in a factory or workshop certified as dangerous or injurious by the secretary of state. The act of 1883 also dealt with sanitary conditions in bakehouses. Certain definitions and explanations of previous enactments touching overtime and employment of a child in any factory or workshop were also included in the act. A class of factories in which excessive heat and humidity seriously affected the health of operatives was next dealt with in the Cotton Cloth Factories Act 1889. This provided for special notice to the chief inspector from all occupiers of cotton cloth factories (i.e. any room, shed, or workshop or part thereof in which weaving of cotton cloth is carried on) who intend to produce humidity by artificial means; regulated both temperature of workrooms and amount of moisture in the atmosphere, and provided for tests and records of the same; and fixed a standard minimum volume of fresh air (600 cub. ft.) to be admitted in every hour for every person employed in the factory. Power was retained for the secretary of state to modify by order the standard for the maximum limit of humidity of the atmosphere at any given temperature. A short act in 1870 extended this power to other measures for the protection of health.
The special measures from 1878 to 1889 gave valuable precedents for further developments of special hygiene in factory life, but the next advance in the Factory and Workshop Act 1891, following the House of Lords Committee on the sweating system and the Berlin International Labour Conference, extended over much wider ground. Its principal objects were: (a) to render administration of the law relating to workshops more efficient, particularly as regards sanitation; with this end in view it made the primary controlling authority for sanitary matters in workshops the local sanitary authority (now the district council), acting by their officers, and giving them the powers of the less numerous body of factory inspectors, while at the same time the provisions of the public Health Acts replaced in workshops the very similar sanitary provisions of the Factory Acts; (b) to provide for greater security against accidents and more efficient fencing of machinery in factories; (c) to extend the method of regulation of unhealthy or dangerous occupations by application of special rules and requirements to any incident of employment (other than in a domestic workshop) certified by the secretary of state to be dangerous or injurious to health or dangerous to life or limb; (d) to raise the age of employment of children and restrict the employment of women immediately after childbirth; (e) to require particulars of rate of wages to be given with work to piece-workers in certain branches of the textile industries; (f) to amend the act of 1878 in various subsidiary ways, with the view of improving the administration of its principles, e.g. by increasing the means of checking the amount of overtime worked, empowering inspectors to enter work-places used as dwellings without a justice’s warrant, and the imposition of minimum penalties in certain cases. On this act followed four years of greatly accelerated administrative activity. No fewer than sixteen trades were scheduled by the secretary of state as dangerous to health. The manner of preparing and establishing suitable rules was greatly modified by the act of 1901 and will be dealt with in that connexion.
The Factory and Workshop Act 1895 followed thus on a period of exercise of new powers of administrative regulation (the period being also that during which the Royal Commission on Labour made its wide survey of industrial conditions), and after two successive annual reports of the chief inspector of factories had embodied reports and recommendations from the women inspectors, who in 1893 were first added to the inspectorate. Again, the chief features of an even wider legislative effort than that of 1891 were the increased stringency and definiteness of the measures for securing hygienic and safe conditions of work. Some of these measures, however, involved new principles, as in the provision for the prohibition of the use of a dangerous machine or structure by the order of a magistrate’s court, and the power to include in the special rules drawn up in pursuance of section 8 of the act of 1891, the prohibition of the employment of any class of persons, or the limitation of the period of employment of any class of persons in any process scheduled by order of the secretary of state. These last two powers have both been exercised, and with the exercise of the latter passed away, without opposition, the absolute freedom of the employer of the adult male labourer to carry on his manufacture without legislative limitation of the hours of labour. Second only in significance to these new developments was the addition, for the first time since 1867, of new classes of workplaces not covered by the general definitions in section 93 of the Consolidating Act of 1878, viz.: (a) laundries (with special conditions as to hours, &c.); (b) docks, wharves, quays, warehouses and premises on which machinery worked by power is temporarily used for the purpose of the construction of a building or any structural work in connexion with the building (for the purpose only of obtaining security against accidents). Other entirely new provisions in the act of 1895, later strengthened by the act of 1901, were the requirement of a reasonable temperature in workrooms, the requirement of lavatories for the use of persons employed in any department where poisonous substances are used, the obligation on occupiers and medical practitioners to report cases of industrial poisoning; and the penalties imposed on an employer wilfully allowing wearing apparel to be made, cleaned or repaired in a dwelling-house where an inmate is suffering from infectious disease. Another provision empowered the secretary of state to specify classes of outwork and areas with a view to the regulation of the sanitary condition of premises in which outworkers are employed. Owing to the conditions attached to its exercise, no case was found in which this power could come into operation, and the act of 1901 deals with the matter on new lines. The requirement of annual returns from occupiers of persons employed, and the competency of the person charged with infringing the act to give evidence in his defence, were important new provisions, as was also the adoption of the powers to direct a formal investigation of any accident on the lines laid down in section 45 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act 1887. Other sections, relating to sanitation and safety, were developments of previous regulations, e.g. the fixing of a standard of overcrowding, provision of sanitary accommodation separate for each sex where the standard of the Public Health Act Amendment Act of 1890 had not been adopted by the competent local sanitary authority, power to order a fan or other mechanical means to carry off injurious gas, vapour or other impurity (the previous power covering only dust). The fencing of machinery and definition of accidents were made more precise, young persons were prohibited from cleaning dangerous machinery, and additional safeguards against risk of injury by fire or panic were introduced. On the question of employment the foremost amendments lay in the almost complete prohibition of overtime for young persons, and the restriction of the power of an employer to employ protected persons outside his factory or workshop on the same day that he had employed them in the factory or workshop. Under the head of particulars of work and wages to piece-workers an important new power, highly valued by the workers, was given to apply the principle with the necessary modifications by order of the secretary of state to industries other than textile and to outworkers as well as to those employed inside factories and workshops.
In 1899 an indirect modification of the limitation to employment of children was effected by the Elementary Education The act of 1901. Amendment Act, which, by raising from eleven to twelve the minimum age at which a child may, by the by-laws of a local authority, obtain total or partial exemption from the obligation to attend school, made it unlawful for an occupier to take into employment any child under twelve in such a manner as to prevent full-time attendance at school. The age of employment became generally thereby the same as it has been for employment at a mine above ground since 1887. The act of 1901 made the prohibition of employment of a child under twelve in a factory or workshop direct and absolute. Under the divisions of sanitation, safety, fitness for employment, special regulation of dangerous trades, special control of bakehouses, exceptional treatment of creameries, new methods of dealing with home work and outworkers, important additions were made to the general law by the act of 1901, as also in regulations for strengthened administrative control. New general sanitary provisions were those prescribing: (a) ventilation per se for every workroom, and empowering the secretary of state to fix a standard of sufficient ventilation; (b) drainage of wet floors; (c) the power of the secretary of state to define in certain cases what shall constitute sufficient and suitable sanitary accommodation. New safety provisions were those relating to — (a) Examination and report on steam boilers; (b) prohibition of employment of a child in cleaning below machinery in motion; (c) power of the district council to make by-laws for escape in case of fire. The most important administrative alterations were: (a) a justice engaged in the same trade as, or being officer of an association of persons engaged in the same trade as, a person charged with an offence may not act at the hearing and determination of the charge; (b) ordinary supervision of sanitary conditions under which outwork is carried on was transferred to the district council, power being reserved to the Home Office to intervene in case of neglect or default by any district council.
The Employment of Children Act 1903, while primarily providing for industries outside the scope of the Factory Act, Acts of 1903, 1906, 1907. incidentally secured that children employed as half-timers should not also be employed in other occupations. The Notice of Accidents Act 1906 amended the whole system of notification of accidents, simultaneously in mines, quarries, factories and workshops, and will be set out in following paragraphs. The Factory and Workshop Act of 1907 amended the law in respect of laundries by generally applying the provisions of 1901 to trade laundries while granting them choice of new exceptional periods, and by extending the provisions of the act (with certain powers to the Home Office by Orders laid before parliament to allow variations) to institution laundries carried on for charitable or reformatory purposes. The Employment of Women Act 1907 repealed an exemption in the act of 1901 (and earlier acts) relating to employment of women in flax scutch mills, thus bringing this employment under the ordinary provisions as to period of employment.
The following paragraphs aim at presenting an idea of the scope of the modified and amended law, as a whole, adding where clearly necessary reference to the effect of acts, which ceased to apply after the 31st of December 1901:—
The workplaces to which the act applies are, first, “factories” and “workshops”; secondly, laundries, docks, wharves, &c., Definitions. enumerated above as introduced and regulated partially only by the act of 1895 and subsequent acts. Apart from this secondary list, and having regard to workplaces which remain undefined by the law, the act may broadly be said to apply to premises, rooms or places in which manual labour, with or without the aid of mechanical power, is exercised for gain in or incidental to the making, altering, repairing, ornamenting, washing, cleaning or finishing or adapting for sale of any article or part of any article. If steam, water or other mechanical power is used in aid of the manufacturing process, the workplace is a factory; if not, it is a workshop. There is, however, a list of eighteen classes of works (brought under the factory law for reasons of safety, &c., before workshops generally were regulated) which are defined as factories whether power is used in them or not. Factories are, again, subdivided into textile and non-textile: they are textile if the machinery is employed in preparing, manufacturing or finishing cotton, wool, hair, silk, flax, hemp, jute, tow, China grass, cocoanut fibre or other like material either separately or mixed together, or mixed with any other material, or any fabric made thereof; all other factories are non-textile. The distinction turns on the historical origin of factory regulation and the regulations in textile factories remain in some respects slightly more stringent than in the non-textile factories and workshops, though the general provisions are almost the same. Three special classes of workshops have for certain purposes to be distinguished from ordinary workshops, which include tenement workshops: (a) Domestic workshops, i.e. any private house, room or place, which, though used as a dwelling, is by reason of the work carried on there a workshop, and in which the only persons employed are members of the same family, dwelling there alone — in these women’s hours are unrestricted; (b) Women’s workshops, in which neither children nor young persons are employed in these a more elastic arrangement of hours is permissible than in ordinary workshops; (c) Workshops in which men only are employed these come under the same general regulations in regard to sanitation as other workshops, also under the provisions of the Factory Act as regards security, and, if certified by the secretary of state, may be brought under special regulations. They are otherwise outside the scope of the act of 1901.
The person to whom the regulations apply in the above-defined workplaces are children, i.e. persons between the ages of twelve and fourteen, young persons, i.e. boys or girls between the ages of fourteen (or if an educational certificate has been obtained, thirteen) and eighteen years of age, and women, i.e. females above the age of eighteen; these are all “protected” persons to whom the general provisions of the act, inclusive of the regulation of hours and times of employment, apply. To adult men generally those provisions broadly only apply which are aimed at securing sanitation and safety in the conduct of the manufacturing process.
The person generally responsible for observance of the provisions of the law, whether these relate to health, safety, limitation of the hours of labour or other matters, is the occupier (a term undefined in the act) of the factory, workshop or laundry. There are, however, limits to his responsibility: (a) generally, where the occupier has used due diligence to enforce the execution of the act, and can show that another person, whether agent, servant, workman or other person, is the real offender; (b) specially in a factory the sections relating to employment of protected persons, where the owner or hirer of a machine or implement driven by mechanical power is some person other than the occupier of the factory, the owner or hirer, so far as respects any offence against the act committed in relation to a person who is employed in connexion with the machine or implement, and is in the employment or pay of the owner or hirer, shall be deemed to be the occupier of the factory; (c) for the one purpose of reporting accidents, the actual employer of the person injured in any factory or workshop is bound under penalty immediately to report the same to the occupier; (d) so far as relates to sanitary conditions, fencing of machinery, affixing of notices in tenement factories, the owner (as defined by the Public Health Act 1875), generally speaking, takes the place of the occupier.
Employment in a factory or workshop includes work whether for wages or not: (a) in a manufacturing process or handicraft, (b) in cleaning any place used for the same, (c) in cleaning or oiling any part of the machinery, (d) any work whatsoever incidental to the process or handicraft, or connected with the article made. Persons found in any part of the factory or workshop, where machinery is used or manufacture carried on, except at meal-times, or when machinery is stopped, are deemed to be employed until the contrary is proved. The act, however, does not apply to employment for the sole purpose of repairing the premises or machinery, nor to the process of preserving and curing fish immediately upon its arrival in the fishing boats in order to prevent the fish from being destroyed or spoiled, nor to the process of cleaning and preparing fruit so far as is necessary to prevent it from spoiling during the months of June, July, August and September. Certain light handicrafts carried on by a family only in a private house or room at irregular intervals are also outside the scope of the act.
The foremost provisions are those relating to the sanitary condition of the workplaces and the general security of every class of Sanitation. worker. Every factory must be kept in a cleanly condition, free from noxious effluvia, ventilated in such a manner as to render harmless, so far as practicable, gases, vapours, dust or other impurities generated in the manufacture; must be provided with sufficient and suitable sanitary conveniences separate for the sexes; must not be overcrowded (not less than 250 cubic ft. during the day, 400 during overtime, for each worker). In these matters the law of public health takes in workshops the place of the Factory Act, the requirements being substantially the same. Although, however, primarily the officers of the district council enforce the sanitary provisions in workshops, the government factory inspectors may give notice of any defect in them to the district council in whose district they are situate; and if proceedings are not taken within one month by the latter, the factory inspector may act in default and recover expenses from the district council. This power does not extend to domestic workshops which are under the law relating to public health so far as general sanitation is concerned. General powers are reserved to the secretary of state, where he is satisfied that the Factory Act or law relating to public health as regards workplaces has not been carried out by any district council, to authorize a factory inspector during a period named in his order to act instead of the district council. Other general sanitary provisions administered by the government inspectors are the requirement in factories and workshops of washing conveniences where poisonous substances are used; adequate measures for securing and maintaining a reasonable temperature of such a kind as will not interfere with the purity of the air in each room in which any person is employed; maintenance of sufficient means of ventilation in every room in a factory or workshop (in conformity with such standard as may be prescribed by order of the secretary of state); provision of a fan to carry off injurious dust, gas or other impurity, and prevent their inhalation in any factory or workshop; drainage of floors where wet processes are carried on. For laundries and bakehouses there are further sanitary regulations; e.g. in laundries all stoves for heating irons shall be sufficiently separated from any ironing-room or ironing-table, and the floors shall be “drained in such a manner as will allow the water to flow off freely”; and in bakehouses a cistern supplying water to a bakehouse must be quite separate from that supplying water to a water-closet, and the latter may not communicate directly with the bakehouse. Use of underground bakehouses (i.e. a baking room with floor more than 3 ft. below the ground adjoining) is prohibited, except where already used at the passing of the act; further, in these cases, after 1st January 1904, a certificate as to suitability in light, ventilation, &c., must be obtained from the district council. In other trades certified by the secretary of state further sanitary regulations may be made to increase security for health by special rules to be presently touched on. The secretary of state may also make sanitary requirements a condition of granting such exceptions to the general law as he is empowered to grant. In factories, as distinct from workshops, a periodical lime washing (or washing with hot water and soap where paint and varnish have been used) of all inside walls and ceilings once at least in every fourteen months is generally required (in bakehouses once in six months). As regards sufficiency and suitability of sanitary accommodation, the standards determined by order of the secretary of state shall be observed in the districts to which it is made applicable. An order was made called the Sanitary Accommodation Order, on the 4th of February 1903, the definitions and standards in which have also been widely adopted by local sanitary authorities in districts where the Order itself has no legal force, the local authority having parallel power under the Public Health Act of 1890.
Security in the use of machinery is provided for by precautions as regards the cleaning of machinery in motion and working between Security and accidents. the fixed and traversing parts of self-acting machines driven by power, by fencing of machinery, and by empowering inspectors to obtain an order from a court of summary jurisdiction to prohibit the use, temporarily or absolutely, of machinery, ways, works or plant, including use of a steam boiler, which cannot be used without danger to life and limb. Every hoist and fly-wheel directly connected with mechanical power, and every part of a water-wheel or engine worked by mechanical power, and every wheel race, must be fenced, whatever its position, and every part of mill-gearing or dangerous machinery must either be fenced or be in such position that it is as safe as if fenced. No protected persons may clean any part of mill-gearing in motion, and children may further not clean any part of or below manufacturing machinery in motion by aid of mechanical power; young persons further may not clean any machinery if the inspector notifies it to the occupier as dangerous. Security as regards the use of dangerous premises is provided for by empowering courts of summary jurisdiction, on the application of an inspector, to prohibit their use until the danger has been removed. The district council, or, in London, the county council, or in case of their default the factory inspector, can require certain provisions for escape in case of fire in factories and workshops in which more than forty persons are employed; special powers to make by-laws for means of escape from fire in any factory or workshop are, in addition to any powers for prevention of fire that they possess, given to every district council, in London to the county council. The means of escape must be kept free from obstruction. Provisions are made for doors to open outwards in each room in which more than ten persons are employed, and to prevent the locking, bolting or fastening of doors so that they cannot easily be opened from inside when any person is employed or at meals inside the workplace. Further, provisions for security may be provided in special regulations. Every boiler for generating steam in a factory or workshop or place where the act applies must have a proper safety valve, a steam gauge, and a water gauge, and every such boiler, valve and gauge must be maintained in proper condition. Examination by a competent person must take place at least once in every fourteen months. The occupier of any factory or workshop may be liable for penal compensation not exceeding £100 in case of injury or death due to neglect of any provision or special rule, the whole or any part of which may be applied for the benefit of the injured person or his family, as the secretary of state determines. When a death has occurred by accident in a factory or workshop, the coroner must advise the factory inspector for the district of the place and time of the inquest. The secretary of state may order a formal investigation of the circumstances of any accident as in the case of mines. Careful and detailed provisions are made for the reporting by occupiers to inspectors, and entry in the registers at factories and workshops of accidents which occur in a factory or workshop and (a) cause loss of life to a person employed there, or (b) are due to machinery moved by mechanical power, molten metal, hot liquid, explosion, escape of gas or steam, electricity, so disabling any person employed in the factory or workshop as to cause him to be absent throughout at least one whole day from his ordinary work, (c) are due to any other special cause which the secretary of state may determine, (d) not falling under the previous heads and yet cause disablement for more than seven days’ ordinary work to any person working in the factory or workshop. In the case of (a) or (b) notice has also to be sent to the certifying surgeon by the occupier. Cases of lead, phosphorus, arsenical and mercurial poisoning, or anthrax, contracted in any factory or workshop must similarly be reported and registered by the occupier, and the duty of reporting these cases is also laid on medical practitioners under whose observation they come. The list of classes of poisoning can be extended by the secretary of state’s order.
Certificates of physical fitness for employment must be obtained by the occupier from the certifying surgeon for the district for all Physical fitness of workers. persons under sixteen years of age employed in a factory, and in any class of workshops to which the requirement has been extended by order of the secretary of state, and an inspector may suspend any such persons for re-examination in a factory, or for examination in a workshop, when “disease or bodily infirmity” unfits the person, in his opinion, for the work of the place. The certifying surgeon may examine the process as well as the person submitted, and may qualify the certificate he grants by conditions as to the work on which the person is fit to be employed. An occupier of a factory or workshop or laundry shall not knowingly allow a woman to be employed therein within four weeks after childbirth.
The employment of children, young persons and women is regulated as regards ordinary and exceptional hours of work, ordinary Hours of protected persons. and exceptional meal-times, length of spells and holidays. The outside limits of ordinary periods of employment and holidays are, broadly, the same for textile factories as for non-textile factories and workshops; the main difference lies in the requirement of not less than a total two hours’ interval for meals out of the twelve, and a limit of four and a half hours for any spell of work, a longer weekly half holiday, and a prohibition of overtime, in textile factories, as compared with a total one and a half hours’ interval for meals and a limit of five hours for spells and (conditional) permission of overtime in non-textile factories. The hours of work must be specified, and from Monday to Friday may be between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M., or 7 A.M. to 7 P.M.; in non-textile factories and workshops the hours also may be taken between 8 A.M. and 8 P.M. or by order of the secretary of state for special industries 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. Between these outside limits, with the proviso that meal-times must be fixed and limits as to spells observed, women and young persons may be employed the full time, children on the contrary only half time, on alternate days, or in alternate sets attending school half time regularly. On Saturdays, in textile factories in which the period commences at 6 A.M. all manufacturing work must cease at 12 if not less than one hour is given for meals, or 11.30 if less than one hour is given for meals (half an hour extra allowed for cleaning), and in non-textile factories and workshops at 2 P.M., 3 P.M. or 4 P.M., according as the hour of beginning is 6 A.M., 7 A.M. or 8 A.M. In “domestic workshops” the total number of hours for young persons and children must not exceed those allowed in ordinary workshops, but the outside limits for beginning and ending are wider; and the case is similar as regards hours of women in “women’s workshops.” Employment outside a factory or workshop in the business of the same is limited in a manner similar to that laid down in the Shop Hours Act, to be touched on presently. Overtime in certain classes of factories, workshops and warehouses attached to them is permitted, under conditions specified in the acts, for women, to meet seasonal or unforeseen pressure of business, or where goods of a perishable nature are dealt with, for young persons only in a very limited degree in factories liable to stoppage for drought or flood, or for an unfinished process. These and other cases of exceptional working are under minute and careful administrative regulations. Broadly these same regulations as to exceptional overtime may apply in laundries but the act of 1907 granted to laundries not merely ancillary to the manufacture carried on in a factory or workshop (e.g. shirt and collar factories), additional power to fix different periods of employment for different days of the week, and to make use of one or other of two exceptional methods of arranging the daily periods so as to permit of periods of different length on different days; these exceptional periods cannot be worked in addition to overtime permissible under the general law. Laundries carried on in connexion with charitable or reformatory institutions were brought in 1907 within the scope of the law, but special schemes for regulation as to hours, meals, holidays, &c., may be submitted by the managers to the secretary of state, who is empowered to approve them if he is satisfied that they are not less favourable than the corresponding provisions of the principal act; such schemes shall be laid as soon as possible before both Houses of Parliament.
Night work is allowed in certain specified industries, under conditions, for male young persons, but for no other workers under Dangerous and unhealthy industries. eighteen, and overtime for women may never be later than 10 P.M. or before 6 A.M. Sunday work is prohibited except, under conditions, for Jews; and in factories, workshops and laundries six holidays (generally the Bank holidays) must be allowed in the year. In creameries in which women and young persons are employed the secretary of state may by special order vary the beginning and end of the daily period of employment, and allow employment for not more than three hours on Sundays and holidays.
The general provisions of the act may be supplemented where specially dangerous or unhealthy trades are carried on, by special regulations. This was provided for in the law in force until 31st December 1901, as in the existing principal act, and the power to establish rules had been exercised between 1892 and 1901 in twenty-two trades or processes where injury arose either from handling of dangerous substances, such as lead and lead compounds, phosphorus, arsenic or various chemicals, or where there is inhalation of irritant dust or noxious fumes, or where there is danger of explosion or infection of anthrax. Before the rule could be drawn up under the acts of 1891 to 1895, the secretary of state had to certify that in the particular case or class of cases in question (e.g. process or machinery), there was, in his opinion, danger to life or limb or risk of injury to health; thereupon the chief inspector might propose to the occupier of the factory or workshop such special rules or measures as he thought necessary to meet the circumstances. The occupier might object or propose modifications, but if he did not the rules became binding in twenty-one days; if he objected, and the secretary of state did not assent to any proposed modification, the matters in difference had to be referred to arbitration, the award in which finally settled the rules or requirement to be observed. In November 1901, in the case of the earthenware and china industry, the last arbitration of the kind was opened and was finally concluded in 1903. The parties to the arbitration were the chief inspector, on behalf of the secretary of state, and the occupier or occupiers, but the workmen interested might be and were represented on the arbitration. In the establishing of the twenty-two sets of existing special rules only thrice has arbitration been resorted to, and only on two of these occasions were workmen represented. The provisions as to the arbitration were laid down in the first schedule to the Act of 1891, and were similar to those under the Coal Mines Regulation Acts. Many of these codes have still the force of law and will continue until in due course revised under the amended procedure of the act of 1901. They might not only regulate conditions of employment, but also restrict or prohibit employment of any class of workers; where such restriction or prohibition affected adult workers the rules had to be laid for forty days before both Houses of Parliament before coming into operation. The obligation to observe the rules in detail lies on workers as well as on occupiers, and the section in the act of 1891 providing a penalty for non-observance was drafted, as in the case of the mines, so as to provide for a simultaneous fine for each (not exceeding two pounds for the worker, not exceeding ten pounds for the employer).
The provisions as to special regulations of the act of 1901 touch primarily the method of procedure for making the regulations, but they also covered for the first time domestic workshops and added a power as to the kind of regulations that may be made; further, they strengthened the sanction for observance of any rules that may be established, by placing the occupier in the same general position as regards penalty for non-observance as in other matters under the act. On the certificate of the secretary of state that any manufacture, machinery, plant, process or manual labour used in factories or workshops is dangerous or injurious to life, health or limb, such regulations as appear to the secretary of state to meet the necessity of the case may be made by him after he has duly published notice: (1) of his intention; (2) of the place where copies of the draft regulations can be obtained; and (3) of the time during which objections to them can be made by persons affected. The secretary of state may modify the regulations to meet the objections made. If not, unless the objection is withdrawn or appears to him frivolous, he shall, before making the regulations, appoint a competent person to hold a public inquiry with regard to the draft regulations and to report to him thereon. The inquiry is to be made under such rules as the secretary of state may lay down, and when the regulations are made, they must be laid as soon as possible before parliament. Either House may annul these regulations or any of them, without prejudice to the power of the secretary of state to make new regulations. The regulations may apply to all factories or workshops in which the certified manufacture, process, &c., is used, or to a specified class. They may, among other things, (a) prohibit or limit employment of any person or class of persons; (b) prohibit, limit, or control use of any material or process; (c) modify or extend special regulations contained in the Act. Regulations have been established among others in the following trades and processes: felt hat-making where any inflammable solvent is used; file-cutting by hand; manufacture of electric accumulators; docks, processes of loading, unloading, &c.; tar distilling; factories in which self-acting mules are used; use of locomotives; spinning and weaving of flax, hemp and jute; manufacture of paints and colours; heading of yarn dyed by means of lead compounds.
Although the Factory and Workshop Acts have not directly regulated wages, they have made certain provision for securing to Measures and particulars to piece-workers. the worker that the amount agreed upon shall be received: (a) by extending every act in force relating to the inspection of weights, measures and weighing machines for use in the sale of goods to those used in a factory or workshop for checking or ascertaining the wages of persons employed; (b) by ensuring that piece-workers in the textile trades (and other trades specified by the secretary of state) shall receive, before commencing any piece of work, clear particulars of the wages applicable to the work to be done and of the work to which that rate is to be applied. Unless the particulars of work are ascertainable by an automatic indicator, they must be given to textile workers in writing, and in the case of weavers in the cotton, worsted and woollen trades the particulars of wages must be supplied separately to each worker, and also shown on a placard in a conspicuous position. In other textile processes, it is sufficient to furnish the particulars separately to each worker. The secretary of state has used his powers to extend this protection to non-textile workers, with suitable modifications, in various hardware industries, including pen-making, locks, chains, in wholesale tailoring and making of wearing apparel, in fustian cutting, umbrella-making, brush-making and a number of other piece-work trades. He further has in most of these and other trades used his power to extend this protection to outworkers.
With a view to efficient administration of the act (a) certain notices have to be conspicuously exhibited at the factory or workshop, Administration. (b) registers and lists kept, and (c) notices sent to the inspector by the occupier. Among the first the most important are the prescribed abstract of the act, the names and addresses of the inspector and certifying surgeon, the period of employment, and specified meal-times (which may not be changed without fresh notice to the inspector), the air space and number of persons who may legally be employed in each room, and prescribed particulars of exceptional employment; among the second are the general registers of children and young persons employed, of accidents, of limewashing, of overtime, and lists of out-workers; among the third are the notice of beginning to occupy a factory or workshop, which the occupier must send within one month, report of overtime employment, notice of accident, poisoning or anthrax, and returns of persons employed, with such other particulars as may be prescribed. These must be sent to the chief inspector at intervals of not less than one and not more than three years, as may be directed by the secretary of state.
The secretary of state for the Home Department controls the administration of the acts, appoints the inspectors referred to in the acts, assigns to them their duties, and regulates the manner and cases in which they are to exercise the powers of inspectors. The act, however, expressly assigns certain duties and powers to a chief inspector and certain to district inspectors. Many provisions of the acts depend as to their operation on the making of orders by the secretary of state. These orders may impose special obligations on occupiers and increase the stringency of regulations, may apply exceptions as to employment, and may modify or relax regulations to meet special classes of circumstances. In certain cases, already indicated, his orders guide or determine the action of district councils, and, generally, in case of default by a council he may empower his inspectors to act as regards workplaces, instead of the council, both under the Factory Acts and Public Health Acts.
The powers of an inspector are to enter, inspect and examine, by day or by night, at any reasonable time, any factory or workshop (or laundry, dock, &c.), or part of one, when he has reason to believe that any person is employed there; to take with him a constable if he has reasonable cause to expect obstruction; to require production of registers, certificates, &c., under the acts; to examine, alone or in the presence of any other person, as he sees fit, every person in the factory or workshop, or in a school where the children employed are being educated; to prosecute, conduct or defend before a court of summary jurisdiction any proceeding under the acts; and to exercise such other powers as are necessary for carrying the act into effect. The inspector has also the duty of enforcing the Truck Acts in places, and in respect of persons, under the Factory Acts. Certifying surgeons are appointed by the chief inspector subject to the regulations of the secretary of state, and their chief duties are (a) to examine workers under sixteen, and persons under special rules, as to physical fitness for the daily work during legal periods, with power to grant qualified certificates as to the work for which the young worker is fit, and (b) to investigate and report on accidents and cases of lead, phosphorus or other poisoning and anthrax.
In 1907 there were registered as under inspection 110,276 factories, including laundries with power, 146,917 workshops (other than men’s workshops), including laundries without power; of works under special rules or regulations (included in the figures just given) there were 10,586 and 19,687 non-textile works under orders for supply of particulars to piece-workers. Of notices of accidents received there were 124,325, of which 1179 were fatal; of reported cases of poisoning there were 653, of which 40 were fatal. Prosecutions were taken by inspectors in 4474 cases and convictions obtained in 4211 cases. Of persons employed there were, according to returns of occupiers, 1904, 4,165,791 in factories and 688,756 in workshops.
The mode of progress to be recorded in the regulation of coal mines since 1872 can be contrasted in one aspect with the progress just recorded of factory legislation since 1878. Consolidation was again earlier adopted when large amendments were found necessary, with the result that by far the greater part of the law is to be found in the act of 1887, which repealed and re-enacted, with amendments, the Coal Mines Acts of 1872 and 1886, and the Stratified Ironstone Mines (Gunpowder ) Act, 1881. The act of 1881 was simply concerned with rules relating to the use of explosives underground. The act of 1886 dealt with three questions: (a) The election and payment of checkweighers (i.e. the persons appointed and paid by miners in pursuance of section 13 of the act of 1887 for the purpose of taking a correct account on their behalf of the weight of the mineral gotten by them, and for the correct determination of certain deductions for which they may be liable); (b) provision for new powers of the secretary of state to direct a formal investigation of any explosion or accident, and its causes and circumstances, a provision which was later adopted in the law relating to factories; (c) provision enabling any relatives of persons whose death may have been caused by explosions or accidents in or about mines to attend in person, or by agent, coroners’ inquests thereon, and to examine witnesses. The act of 1887, which amended, strengthened and consolidated these acts and the earlier Consolidating Act of 1872, may also be contrasted in another aspect with the general acts of factory legislation. In scope it formed, as its principal forerunner had done, a general code; and in some measure it went farther in the way of consolidation than the Factory Acts had done, inasmuch as certain questions, which in factories are dealt with by statutes distinct from the Factory Acts, have been included in the Mines Regulation Acts, e.g. the prohibition of the payment of wages in public-houses, and the machinery relating to weights and measures whereby miners control their payment; further, partly from the less changing nature of the industry, but probably mainly from the power of expression gained for miners by their organization, the code, so far as it went, at each stage answered apparently on the whole more nearly to the views and needs of the persons protected than the parallel law relating to factories. This was strikingly seen in the evidence before the Royal Commission on Labour in 1892-1894, where the repeated expression of satisfaction on the part of the miners with the provisions as distinct from the administration of the code (“with a few trifling exceptions”) is in marked contrast with the long and varied series of claims and contentions put forward for amendment of the Factory Acts.
Since the act of 1887 there have followed five minor acts, based on the recommendation of the officials acting under the acts, while two of them give effect to claims made by the miners before the Royal Commission on Labour. Thus, in 1894, the Coal Mines (Checkweigher) Act rendered it illegal for an employer (“owner, agent, or manager of any mine, or any person employed by or acting under the instructions of any such owner, agent, or manager”) to make the removal of a particular checkweigher a condition of employment, or to exercise improper influence in the appointment of a checkweigher. The need for this provision was demonstrated by a decision of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, which upheld an employer in his claim to the right of dismissing all the workmen and re-engaging them on condition that they would dismiss a particular checkweigher. In 1896 a short act extended the powers to propose, amend and modify special rules, provided for representation of workmen on arbitration under the principal act on any matter in difference, modified the provision for plans of mines in working and abandoned mines, amended three of the general rules (inspection before commencing work, use of safety lamp and non-inflammable substances for stemming), and empowered the secretary of state by order to prohibit or regulate the use of any explosive likely to become dangerous. In 1900 another brief act raised the age of employment of boys underground from twelve to thirteen. In 1903 another amending act allowed as an alternative qualification for a manager’s certificate a diploma in scientific and mining training after at least two years’ study at a university mining school or other educational institution approved by the secretary of state, coupled with practical experience of at least three years in a mine. In the same year the Employment of Children Act affected children in mines to the extent already indicated in connexion with factories. In 1905 a Coal Mines (Weighing of Minerals) Act improved some provisions relating to appointment and pay of checkweighers and facilities for them and their duly appointed deputies in carrying out their duties. In 1906 the Notice of Accidents Act provided for improved annual returns of accidents and for immediate reporting to the district inspector of accidents under newly-defined conditions as they arise in coal and metalliferous mines.
While the classes of mines regulated by the act of 1887 are the same as those regulated by the act of 1872 (i.e. mines of coal, of Act of 1887. stratified ironstone, of shale and of fire-clay, including 1887 works above ground where the minerals are prepared for use by screening, washing, &c.) the interpretation of the term “mine” is wider and simpler, including “every shaft in the course of being sunk, and every level and inclined plane in the course of being driven, and all the shafts, levels, planes, works, tramways and sidings, both below ground and above ground, in and adjacent to and belonging to the mine.” Of the persons responsible under penalty for the observance of the acts the term “owner” is defined precisely as in the act of 1872, but the term “agent” is modified to mean “any person appointed as the representative of the owner in respect of any mine or any part thereof, and, as such, superior to a manager appointed in pursuance of this act.” Of the persons protected, the term “young person” disappeared from the act, and “boy,” i.e. “a male under the age of sixteen years,” and “girl,” i.e. “a female under the age of sixteen years,” take their place, and the term “woman” means, as before, “a female of the age of sixteen years and upwards.” The prohibition of employment underground of women and girls remains untouched, and the prohibition of employment underground of boys has been successively extended from boys of the age of ten in 1872 to boys of twelve in 1887 and to boys of thirteen in 1900. The age of employment of boys and girls above ground in connexion with any mine is raised from ten years in 1872 to twelve years since 1887. The hours of employment of a boy below ground may not exceed fifty-four in any one week, nor ten in any one day from the time of leaving the surface to the time of returning to the surface. Above ground any boy or girl under thirteen (and over twelve) may not be employed on more than six days in any one week; if employed on more than three days in one week, the daily total must not exceed six hours, or in any other case ten hours. Protected persons above thirteen are limited to the same daily and weekly total of hours as boys below ground, but there are further provisions with regard to intervals for meals and prohibiting employment for more than five hours without an interval of at least half an hour for a meal. Registers must be kept of all protected persons, whether employed above or below ground. Section 38 of the Public Health Act 1875, which requires separate and sufficient sanitary conveniences for persons of each sex, was first extended by the act of 1887 to the portions of mines above ground in which girls and women are employed; underground this matter is in metalliferous mines in Cornwall now provided for by special rules. Ventilation, the only other requirement in the acts that can be classed as sanitary, is provided for in every mine in the “general rules” which are aimed at securing safety of mines, and which, so far as ventilation is concerned, seek to dilute and render harmless noxious or inflammable gases. The provision which prohibits employment of any persons in mines not provided with at least two shafts is made much more stringent by the act of 1887 than in the previous code, by increasing the distance between the two shafts from 10 to 15 yds., and increasing the height of communications between them. Other provisions amended or strengthened are those relating to the following points: (a) Daily personal supervision of the mine by the certificated manager; (b) classes of certificates and constitution of board for granting certificates of competency; (c) plan of workings of any mine to be kept up to a date not more than three months previously at the office of the mine; (d) notice to be given to the inspector of the district by the owner, agent or manager, of accidents in or about any mine which cause loss of life or serious personal injury, or are caused by explosion of coal or coal dust or any explosive or electricity or any other special cause that the secretary of state specifies by order, and which causes any personal injury to any person employed in or about the mine; it is provided that the place where an explosion or accident occurs causing loss of life or serious personal injury shall be left for inspection for at least three days, unless this would tend to increase or continue a danger or impede working of the mine: this was new in the act of 1887; (e) notice to be given of opening and abandonment of any mine: this was extended to the opening or abandonment of any seam; (f) plan of an abandoned mine or seam to be sent within three months; (g) formal investigation of any explosion or accident by direction of the secretary of state: this provision, first introduced by the act of 1886, was modified in 1887 to admit the appointment by the secretary of state of “any competent person” to hold the investigation, whereas under the earlier section only an inspector could be appointed.
The “general rules” for safety in mines have been strengthened in many ways since the act of 1872. Particular mention may be made General rules. of rule 4 of the act of 1887, relating to the inspection of conditions as to gas ventilation beyond appointed stations at the entrance to the mine or different parts of the mine; this rule generally removed the earlier distinction between mines in which inflammable gas has been found within the preceding twelve months, and mines in which it has not been so found; of rules 8, 9, 10 and 11, relating to the construction, use, &c., of safety lamps, which are more detailed and stringent than rule 7 of the act of 1872, which they replaced; of rule 12, relating to the use of explosives below ground; of rule 24, which requires the appointment of a competent male person not less than twenty-two years of age for working the machinery for lowering and raising persons at the mine; of rule 34. which first required provision of ambulances or stretchers with splints and bandages at the mine ready for immediate use; of rule 38, which strengthened the provision for periodical inspection of the mine by practical miners on behalf of the workmen at their own cost. With reference to the last-cited rule, during 1898 a Prussian mining commission visited Great Britain, France and Belgium, to study and compare the various methods of inspection by working miners established in these three countries. They found that, so far as the method had been applied, it was most satisfactory in Great Britain, where the whole cost is borne by the workers’ own organizations, and they attributed part of the decrease in number of accidents per thousand employed since 1872 to the inauguration of this system.
The provisions as to the proposal, amendment and modification of “special rules,” last extended by the act of 1896, may be Special rules. contrasted with those of the Factory Act. In the latter it is not until an industry or process has been scheduled as dangerous or injurious by the secretary of state’s order that occasion arises for the formation of special rules, and then the initiative rests with the Factory Department whereas in mines it is incumbent in every case on the owner, agent or manager to propose within three months of the commencement of any working, for the approval of the secretary of state, special rules best calculated to prevent dangerous accidents, and to provide for the safety, convenience and proper discipline of the persons employed in or about the mine. These rules may, if they relate to lights and lamps used in the mine, description of explosives, watering and damping of the mine, or prevention of accidents from inflammable gas or coal dust, supersede any general rule in the principal act. Apart from the initiation of the rules, the methods of establishing them, whether by agreement or by resort to arbitration of the parties (i.e. the mine owners and the secretary of state), are practically the same as under the Factory Act, but there is special provision in the Mines Acts for enabling the persons working in the mine to transmit objections to the proposed rules, in addition to their subsequent right to be represented on the arbitration, if any.
Of the sections touching on wages questions, the prohibition of the payment of wages in public-houses remains unaltered, being re-enacted in 1887; the sections relating to payment by weight for amount of mineral gotten by persons employed, and for check-weighing the amount by a “checkweigher” stationed by the majority of workers at each place appointed for the weighing of the material, were revised, particularly as to the determination of deductions by the act of 1887, with a view to meeting some problems raised by decisions on cases under the act of 1872. The attempt seems not to have been wholly successful, the highest legal authorities having expressed conflicting opinions on the precise meaning of the terms “mineral contracted to be gotten.” The whole history of the development of this means of securing the fulfilment of wage contract to the workers may be compared with the history of the sections affording protection to piece-workers by particulars of work and wages in the textile trades since the Factory Act of 1891.
As regards legal proceedings, the chief amendments of the act of 1872 are: the extension of the provision that the “owner, agent, Administration. or manager” charged in respect of any contravention by another person might be sworn and examined as an ordinary witness, to any person charged with any offence under the act. The result of the proceedings against workmen by the owner, agent or manager in respect of an offence under the act is to be reported within twenty-one days to the inspector of the district. The powers of inspectors were extended to cover an inquiry as to the care and treatment of horses and other animals in the mine, and as to the control, management or direction of the mine by the manager.
An important act was passed in 1908 (Coal Mines Regulation Act 1908) limiting the hours of work for workmen below ground. It enacted that, subject to various provisions, a workman was not to be below ground in a mine for the purpose of his work, and of going to and from his work, for more than eight hours in any consecutive twenty-four hours. Exception was made in the case of those below ground for the purpose of rendering assistance in the event of an accident, or for meeting any danger, or for dealing with any emergency or work incompleted, through unforeseen circumstances, which requires to be dealt with to avoid serious interference in the work of the mine. The authorities of every mine must fix the times for the lowering and raising of the men to begin and be completed, and such times must be conspicuously posted at the pit head. These times must be approved by an inspector. The term “workman” in the act means any person employed in a mine below ground who is not an official of the mine (other than a fireman, examiner or deputy), or a mechanic or a horse keeper or a person engaged solely in surveying or measuring. In the case of a fireman, examiner, deputy, onsetter, pump minder, fanman or furnace man, the maximum period for which he may be below ground is nine hours and a half. A register must be kept by the authorities of the mine of the times of descent and ascent, while the workmen may, at their own cost, station persons (whether holding the office of checkweigher or not) at the pit head to observe the times. The authorities of the mine may extend the hours of working by one hour a day on not more than sixty days in one calendar year (s. 3). The act may be suspended by order in council in the event of war or of imminent national danger or great emergency, or in the event of any grave economic disturbance due to the demand for coal exceeding the supply available at any time. The act came into force on the 1st of July 1909 except for the counties of Northumberland and Durham where its operation was postponed until the 1st of January 1910.
In 1905 the number of coal-mines reported on was 3126, and the number of persons employed below ground was 691,112 of whom 43,443 were under 16 years of age. Above ground 167,261 were employed, of whom 6154 were women and girls. The number of separate fatal accidents was 1006, causing the loss of 1205 lives. Of prosecutions by far the greater number were against workmen, numbering in coal and metalliferous mines 953; owners and managers were prosecuted in 72 cases, and convictions obtained in 43 cases.
From 1878 until 1894 open quarries (as distinct from underground quarries regulated by the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act) were regulated only by the Factory Acts so far as they then applied. It was laid down in section 93 of the act of 1878 (41 Vict. c. 16), that “any premises or place shall not be excluded from the definition of a factory or workshop by reason only that such premises, &c., are or is in the open air,” thereby overruling the decision in Kent v. Astley that quarries in which the work, as a whole, was carried on in the open air were not factories; in a schedule to the same act quarries were defined as “any place not being a mine in which persons work in getting slate, stone, coprolites or other minerals.” The Factory Act of 1891 made it possible to bring these places in part under “special rules” adapted to meet the special risks and dangers of the operations carried on in them, and by order of the secretary of state they were certified, December 1892, as dangerous, and thereby subject to special rules. Until then, as reported by one of the inspectors of factories, quarries had been placed under the Factory Acts without insertion of appropriate rules for their safe working, and many of them were “developed in a most dangerous manner without any regard for safety, but merely for economy,” and managers of many had “scarcely seen a quarry until they became managers.” In his report for 1892 it was recommended by the chief inspector of factories that quarries should be subject to the jurisdiction of the government inspectors of mines. At the same time currency was given, by the published reports of the evidence before the Royal Commission on Labour, to the wish of large numbers of quarrymen that open as well as underground quarries should come under more specialized government inspection. In 1893 a committee of experts, including inspectors of mines and of factories, was appointed by the Home Office to investigate the conditions of labour in open quarries, and in 1894 the Quarries Act brought every quarry, as defined in the Factory Act 1878, any part of which is more than 20 ft. deep, under certain of the provisions of the Metalliferous Mines Acts, and under the inspection of the inspectors appointed under those acts; further, it transferred the duty of enforcing the Factory and Workshop Acts, so far as they apply in quarries over 20 ft. deep, from the Factory to the Metalliferous Mines inspectors.
The provisions of the Metalliferous Mines Acts 1872 and 1875, applied to quarries, are those relating to payment of wages in public-houses, notice of accidents to the inspector, appointment and powers of inspectors, arbitration, coroners’ inquests, special rules, penalties, certain of the definitions, and the powers of the secretary of state finally to decide disputed questions whether places come within the application of the acts. For other matters, and in particular fencing of machinery and employment of women and young persons, the Factory Acts apply, with a proviso that nothing shall prevent the employment of young persons (boys) in three shifts for not more than eight hours each. In 1899 it was reported by the inspectors of mines that special rules for safety had been established in over 2000 quarries. In the reports for 1905 it was reported that the accounts of blasting accidents indicated that there was “still much laxity in observance of the Special rules, and that many irregular and dangerous practices are in vogue.” The absence or deficiency of external fencing to a quarry dangerous to the public has been since 1887 (50 & 51 Vict. c. 19) deemed a nuisance liable to be dealt with summarily in the manner provided by the Public Health Act 1875.
In 1905, 94,819 persons were employed, of whom 59,978 worked inside the actual pits or excavations, and 34,841 outside. Compared with 1900, there was a total increase of 924 in the number of persons employed. Fatal accidents resulted in 1900 in 127 deaths; compared with 1899 there was an increase of 10 in the number of deaths, and, as Professor Le Neve Foster pointed out, this exceeded the average death-rate of underground workers at mines under the Coal Mines Acts during the previous ten years, in spite of the quarrier “having nothing to fear from explosions of gas, underground fires or inundations.” He attributed the difference to a lax observance of precautions which might in time be remedied by stringent administration of the law. In 1905 there were 97 fatal accidents resulting in 99 deaths. In 1900 there were 92 prosecutions against owners or agents, with 67 convictions, and 13 prosecutions of workers, with 12 convictions, and in 1905 there were 45 prosecutions of owners or agents with 43 convictions and 9 prosecutions of workmen with 5 convictions.
In 1883 a short act extended to all “workmen” who are manual labourers other than miners, with the exception of domestic or Payment of wages in public-houses. menial servants, the prohibition of payment of wages in public-houses, beer-shops and other places for the sale of spirituous or fermented liquor, laid down in the Coal Mines Regulations and Metalliferous Mines Regulation Acts. The places covered by the prohibition include any office, garden or place belonging to or occupied with the places named, but the act does not apply to such wages as are paid by the resident, owner or occupier of the public-house, beer-shop and other places included in the prohibition to any workman bona fide employed by him. The penalty for an offence against this act is one not exceeding £10 (compare the limit of £20 for the corresponding offence under the Coal Mines Act), and all offences maybe prosecuted and penalties recovered in England and Scotland under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts. The act does not apply to Ireland, and no special inspectorate is charged with the duty of enforcing its provisions.
In four brief acts, 1892 to 1899, still in force, the first very limited steps were taken towards the positive regulation of the employment of shop assistants. In the act of 1904 certain additional optional powers were given to any local authority making a “closing order” fixing the hour (not earlier than 7 P.M. or on one day in the week 1 P.M.) at which shops shall cease to serve customers throughout the area of the authority or any specified part thereof as regards all shops or as regards any specified class of shops. Before such an order can be made (1) a prima facie case for it must appear to the local authority; (2) the local authority must inquire and agree; (3) the order must be drafted and sent for confirmation or otherwise to the central authority, that is, the secretary of state for the Home Department; (4) the order must be laid before both Houses of Parliament. The Home Office has given every encouragement to the making of such orders, but their number in England is very small, and the act is practically inoperative in London and many large towns where the need is greatest. As the secretary of state pointed out in the House of Commons on the 1st of May 1907, the local authorities have not taken enough initiative, but at the same time there is a great difficulty for them in obtaining the required two-thirds majority, among occupiers of the shops to be affected, in favour of the order, and at the same time shop assistants have no power to set the law in motion. In England 364 local authorities have taken no steps, but in Scotland rather better results have been obtained. The House resolved, on the date named, that more drastic legislation is required. As regards shops, therefore, in place of such general codes as apply to factories, laundries, mines — only three kinds of protective requirement are binding on employers of shop assistants: (1) Limitation of the weekly total of hours of work of persons under eighteen years of age to seventy-four inclusive of meal-times; (2) prohibition of the employment of such persons in a shop on the same day that they have, to the knowledge of the employer, been employed in any factory or workshop for a longer period than would, in both classes of employment together, amount to the number of hours permitted to such persons in a factory or workshop; (3) provision for the supply of seats by the employer, in all rooms of a shop or other premises where goods are retailed to the public, for the use of female assistants employed in retailing the goods — the seats to be in the proportion of not fewer than one to every three female assistants. The first two requirements are contained in the act of 1892, which also prescribed that a notice, referring to the provisions of the act, and stating the number of hours in the week during which a young person may be lawfully employed in the shop, shall be kept exhibited by the employer; the third requirement was first provided by the act of 1899. The intervening acts of 1893 and 1895 are merely supplementary to the act of 1892; the former providing for the salaries and expenses of the inspectors which the council of any county or borough (and in the City of London the Common Council) were empowered by the act of 1892 to appoint; the latter providing a penalty of 40s. for failure of an employer to keep exhibited the notice of the provisions of the acts, which in the absence of a penalty it had been impossible to enforce. The penalty for employment contrary to the acts is a fine not exceeding £1 for each person so employed, and for failure to comply with the requirements as to seats, a fine not exceeding £3 for a first offence, and for any subsequent offence a fine of not less than £1 and not exceeding £5.
A wide interpretation is given by the act of 1892 to the class of workplace to which the limitation of hours applies. “Shop” Meaning of “shop.” means retail and wholesale shops, markets, stalls and warehouses in which assistants are employed for hire, and includes licensed public-houses and refreshment houses of any kind. The person responsible for the observance of the acts is the “employer” of the “young persons” (i.e. persons under the age of eighteen years), whose hours are limited, and of the “female assistants” for whom seats must be provided. Neither the term “employer” nor “shop assistant” (used in the title of the act of 1899) is defined; but other terms have the meaning assigned to them in the Factory and Workshop Act 1878. The “employer” has, in case of any contravention alleged, the same power as the “occupier” in the Factory Acts to exempt himself from fine on proof of due diligence and of the fact that some other person is the actual offender. The provisions of the act of 1892 do not apply to members of the same family living in a house of which the shop forms part, or to members of the employer’s family, or to any one wholly employed as a domestic servant.
In London, where the County Council has appointed men and women inspectors to apply the acts of 1892 to 1899, there were, in 1900, 73,929 premises, and in 1905, 84,269, under inspection. In the latter year there were 22,035 employing persons under 18 years of age. In 1900 the number of young persons under the acts were: indoors, 10,239 boys and 4428 girls; outdoors, 35,019 boys, 206 girls. In 1905 the ratio between boys and girls had decidedly altered: indoors, 6602 boys, 4668 girls; outdoors, 22,654 boys, 308 girls. The number of irregularities reported in 1900 were 9204 and the prosecutions were 117; in 1905 the irregularities were 6966 and the prosecutions numbered 34. As regards the act of 1899, in only 1088 of the 14,844 shops affected in London was there found in 1900 to be failure to provide seats for the women employed in retailing goods. The chief officer of the Public Control Department reported that with very few exceptions the law was complied with at the end of the first year of its application.
As regards cleanliness, ventilation, drainage, water-supply and sanitary condition generally, shops have been since 1878 (by 41 Vict. c. 16, s. 101) subject to the provisions of the Public Health Act 1875, which apply to all buildings, except factories under the Factory Acts, in which any persons, whatever their number be, are employed. Thus, broadly, the same sanitary provisions apply in shops as in workshops, but in the former these are enforced solely by the officers of the local authority, without reservation of any power, as in workshops for the Home Office inspectorate, to act in default of the local authority.
Shop assistants, so far as they are engaged in manual, not merely clerical labour, come under the provisions of the Truck Acts 1831 to 1887, and in all circumstances they fall within the sections directed against unfair and unreasonable fines in the Truck Act of 1896; but, unlike employes in factories, workshops, laundries and mines, they are left to apply these provisions so far as they can themselves, since neither Home Office inspectors nor officers of the local authority have any specially assigned powers to administer the Truck Acts in shops.
Setting aside the special Hosiery Manufacture (Wages) Act 1874, aimed at a particular abuse appearing chiefly in the hosiery industry — the practice of making excessive charges on wages for machinery and frame — rents only two acts, those of 1887 and 1896, have been added to the general law against truck since the act of 1831, which repealed all prior Truck Acts and which remains the principal act. Further amendments of the law have been widely and strenuously demanded, and are hoped for as the result of the long inquiry by a departmental committee appointed early in 1906. The Truck Act Amendment Act 1887, amended and extended the act without adding any distinctly new principle; the Truck Act of 1896 was directed towards providing remedies for matters shown by decisions under the earlier Truck Acts to be outside the scope of the principles and provisions of those acts. Under the earlier acts the main objects were: (1) to make the wages of workmen, i.e. the reward of labour, payable only in current coin of the realm, and to prohibit’ whole or part payment of wages in food or drink or clothes or any other articles; (2) to forbid agreements, express or implied, between employer and workmen as to the manner or place in which, or articles on which, a workman shall expend his wages, or for the deduction from wages of the price of articles (other than materials to be used in the labour of the workmen) supplied by the employer. The The Truck Act 1887. act of 1887 added a further prohibition by making it illegal for an employer to charge interest on any advance of wages, “whenever by agreement, custom, or otherwise a workman is entitled to receive in anticipation of the regular period of the payment of his wages an advance as part or on account thereof.” Further, it strengthened the section of the principal act which provided that no employer shall have any action against his workman for goods supplied at any shop belonging to the employer, or in which the employer is interested, by (a) securing any workman suing an employer for wages against any counter-claim in respect of goods supplied to the workman by any person under any order or direction of the employer, and (b) by expressly prohibiting an employer from dismissing any worker on account of any particular time, place or manner of expending his wages. Certain exemptions to the prohibition of payment otherwise than in coin were provided for in the act of 1831, if an agreement were made in writing and signed by the worker, viz. rent, victuals dressed and consumed under the employer’s roof, medicine, fuel, provender for beasts of burden used in the trade, materials and tools for use by miners, advances for friendly societies or savings banks; in the case of fuel, provender and tools there was also a proviso that the charge should not exceed the real and true value. The act of 1887 amended these provisions by requiring a correct annual audit in the case of deductions for medicine or tools, by permitting part payment of servants in husbandry in food, drink (not intoxicants) or other allowances, and by prohibiting any deductions for sharpening or repairing workmen’s tools except by agreement not forming part of the condition of hiring. Two important administrative amendments were made by the act of 1887: (1) a section similar to that in the Factory and Mines Acts was added, empowering the employer to exempt himself from penalty for contravention of the acts on proof that any other person was the actual offender and of his own due diligence in enforcing the execution of the acts; (2) the duty of enforcing, the acts in factories, workshops, and mines was imposed upon the inspectors of the Factory and Mines Departments, respectively, of the Home Office, and to their task they were empowered to bring all the authorities and powers which they possessed in virtue of the acts under which they are appointed; these inspectors thus prosecute defaulting employers and recover penalties under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, but they do not undertake civil proceedings for improper deductions or payments, proceedings for which would lie with workmen under the Employers and Persons benefited by Truck Acts. Workmen Act 1875. The persons to whom the benefits of the act applied were added to by the act of 1887, which repealed the complicated list of trades contained in the principal act and substituted the simpler definition of the Employers and Workmen Act, 1875.
Thus the acts 1831 to 1887, and also the act of 1896, apply to all workers (men, women and children) engaged in manual labour, except domestic servants; they apply not only in mines, factories and workshops, but, to quote the published Home Office Memorandum on the acts, “in all places where workpeople are engaged in manual labour under a contract with an employer, whether or no the employer be an owner or agent or a parent, or be himself a workman; and therefore a workman who employs and pays others under him must also observe the Truck Acts.” The law thus in certain circumstances covers outworkers for a contractor or sub-contractor. A decision of the High Court at Dublin in 1900 (Squire v. Sweeney) strengthened the inspectors in investigation of offences committed amongst outworkers by supporting the contention that inquiry and exercise of all the powers of an inspector could legally take place in parts of an employer’s premises other than those in which the work is given out. It defined for Ireland, in a narrower sense than had hitherto been understood and acted upon by the Factory Department, the classes of outworkers protected, by deciding that only such as were under a contract personally to execute the work were covered. In 1905 the law in England was similarly declared in the decided case of Squire v. The Midland Lace Co. The judges (Lord Alverstone, C.J.; and Kennedy and Ridley, J.J.) stated that they came to the conclusion with “reluctance,” and said: “We venture to express the hope that some amendment of the law may be made so as to extend the protection of the Truck Act to a class of workpeople indistinguishable from those already within its provisions.” The workers in question were lace-clippers taking out work to do in their homes, and in the words of the High Court decision “though they do sometimes employ assistants are evidently, as a class, wage-earning manual labourers and not contractors in the ordinary and popular sense.” The principle relied on in the decision was that in the case of Ingram v. Barnes.
At the time of the passing of the act of 1887 it seems to have been generally believed that the obligation under the principal act to pay Meaning of “wages.” the “entire amount of wages earned” in coin rendered illegal any deductions from wages in respect of fines. Important decisions in 1888 and 1889 showed this belief to have been ill-founded. The essential point lies in the definition of the word “wages” as the “recompense, reward or remuneration of labour,” which implies not necessarily any gross sum in question between employer and workmen where there is a contract to perform a certain piece of work, but that part of it, the real net wage, which the workman was to get as his recompense for the labour performed. As soon as it became clear that excessive deductions from wages as well as payments by workers for materials used in the work were not illegal, and that deductions or payments by way of compensation to employers or by way of discipline might legally (with the single exception of fines for lateness for women and children, regulated by the Employers and Workmen Act 1875) even exceed the degree of loss, hindrance or damage to the employer, it also came clearly into view that further legislation was desirable to extend the principles at the root of the Truck Acts. It was desirable, that is to say, to hinder more fully the unfair dealing that may be encouraged by half-defined customs in work-places, on the part of the employer in making a contract, while at the same time leaving the principle of freedom The Truck Act 1896. of contract as far as possible untouched. The Truck Act of 1896 regulates the conditions under which deductions can be made by or payments made to the employer, out of the “sum contracted to be paid to the worker,” i.e. out of any gross sum whatever agreed upon between employer and workman. It makes such deductions or payments illegal unless they are in pursuance of a contract; and it provides that deductions (or payments) for (a) fines, (b) bad work and damaged goods, (c) materials, machines, and any other thing provided by the employer in relation to the work shall be reasonable, and that particulars of the same in writing shall be given to the workman. In none of the cases mentioned is the employer to make any profit; neither by fines, for they may only be imposed in respect of acts or omissions which cause, or are likely to cause, loss or damage; nor by sale of materials, for the price may not exceed the cost to the employer; nor by deductions or payments for damage, for these may not exceed the actual or estimated loss to the employer. Fines and charges for damage must be “fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case,” and no contract could make legal a fine which a court held to be unfair to the workman in the sense of the act. The contract between the employer and workman must either be in writing signed by the workman, or its terms must be clearly stated in a notice constantly affixed in a place easily accessible to the workman to whom, if a party to the contract, a copy shall be given at the time of making the contract, and who shall be entitled, on request, to obtain from the employer a copy of the notice free of charge. On each occasion when a deduction or payment is made, full particulars in writing must be supplied to the workman.
The employer is bound to keep a register of deductions or payments, and to enter therein particulars of any fine made under the contract, specifying the amount and nature of the act or omission in respect of which the fine was imposed. This register must be at all times open to inspectors of mines or factories, who are entitled to make a copy of the contract or any part of it. This act as a whole applies to all workmen included under the earlier Truck Acts; the sections relating to fines apply also to shop assistants. The latter, however, apparently are left to enforce the provisions of the law themselves, as no inspectorate is empowered to intervene on their behalf. In these and other cases a prosecution under the Truck Acts may be instituted by any person. Any workman or shop assistant may recover any sum deducted by or paid to his employer contrary to the act of 1896, provided that proceedings are commenced within six months, and that where he has acquiesced in the deduction or payment he shall only recover the excess over the amount which the court may find to have been fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. It is expressly declared in the act that nothing in it shall affect the provisions of the Coal Mines Acts with reference to payment by weight, or legalize any deductions, from payments made, in pursuance of those provisions. The powers and duties of inspectors are extended to cover the case of a laundry, and of any place where work is given out by the occupier of a factory or workshop or by a contractor or subcontractor. Power is reserved for the secretary of state to exempt by order specified trades or branches of them in specified areas from the provisions of the act of 1896, if he is satisfied that they are unnecessary for the protection of the workmen. This power has been exercised only in respect of one highly organized industry, the Lancashire cotton industry. The effect of the exemption is not to prevent fines and deductions from being made, but the desire for it demonstrated that there are cases where leaders among workers have felt competent to make their own terms on their own lines without the specific conditions laid down in this act. The reports of the inspectors of factories have demonstrated that in other industries much work has had to be done under this act, and knowledge of a highly technical character to be gradually acquired, before opinions could be formed as to the reasonableness and fairness, or the contrary, of many forms of deduction. Owing partly to difficulties of legal interpretation involving the necessity of taking test cases into court, partly to the margin for differences of opinion as to what constitutes “reasonableness” in a deduction, the average number of convictions obtained on prosecutions is not so high as under the Factory Acts, though the average penalty imposed is higher. In 1904, 61 cases were taken into court resulting in 34 convictions with an average penalty of £1, 10s. In 1905, 38 cases resulting in 34 convictions were taken with an average penalty of £1, 3s. In 1906, 37 cases resulting in 25 convictions were taken with an average penalty of £1, 10s.
Reference should here be made to the Shop Clubs Act of 1902 as closely allied with some of the provisions of the Truck Acts by its provision that employers shall not make it a condition of employment that any workman shall become a member of a shop club unless it is registered under the Friendly Societies Act of 1896. As in the case of payment of wages in Public Houses Act, no special inspectorate has the duty of enforcing this act.
History of Labour Laws from 1910
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.
Labour Laws in the United Kingdom until 1922
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 early 20th Century 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- H. D. Traill, Social England, v. 602 (1896).
- W. Cunningham, Growth of English Commerce and Industry.
- W. Cunningham, Growth of English Commerce and Industry.
- From an “Essay on Trade” (1770), quoted in History of Factory Legislation, by B. L. Hutching and A. Harrison (1903), pp. 5, 6.
- Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1876; quoted in History of Factory Legislation, by Harrison and Hutchinson, p. 179.
Labour Legislation in other Countries
For an overview of labour legislation worldwide in general, see Labor Legislation.
The monthly Labour Gazette and the quarterly Labour Overseas, published by the Ministry of Labour in Great Britain, contained 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.
(a) Factory Legislation: Abraham and Davies, Law relating to Factories and Workshops (London, 1897 and 1902); Redgrave, Factory Acts (London, 1897); Royal Commission on Labour, Minutes of Evidence and Digests, Group “C” (3 vols., 1892-1893), Assistant Commissioner’s Report on Employment of Women (1893), Fifth and Final Report of the Commission (1894); International Labour Conference at Berlin, Correspondence, Commercial Series (C, 6042) (1890); House of Lords Committee on the Sweating System, Report (1891); Home Office Reports: Annual Reports of H.M. Chief Inspector of Factories (1879 to 1901), Committee on White Lead and Various Lead Industries (1894), Working of the Cotton Cloth Factories Acts (1897), Dangerous Trades (Anthrax) Committee, Do., Miscellaneous Trades (1896-97-98-99), Conditions of Work in Fish-Curing Trade (1898), Lead Compounds in Pottery (1899), Phosphorus in Manufacture of Lucifer Matches (1899), &c., &c.; Whately Cooke-Taylor, Modern Factory System (London, 1891); Oliver, Dangerous Trades (London, 1902); Cunningham, Growth of English Commerce and Industry (1907); Hutchins and Harrison, History of Factory Legislation (1903); Traill, Social England, &c., &c. (b) Mines and Quarries: Statutes: Coal Mines Regulation Acts 1886, 1894, 1896, 1899; Metalliferous Mines Regulation Acts 1872, 1875; Quarries Act 1894; Royal Commission on Labour, Minutes of Evidence and Digests, Group “A” (1892-1893, 3 vols.); Royal Commission on Mining Royalties, Appendices (1894); Home Office Reports: Annual General Report upon the Mining Industry (1894-1897), Mines and Quarries, General Reports and Statistics (1898 to 1899), Annual Reports of H.M. Chief Inspector of Factories (1893-1895) (Quarries); Macswinney and Bristowe, Coal Mines Regulation Act 1887 (London, 1888). (c) Shops: Statutes: Shop Hours Acts 1892, 1893, 1896, Seats for Shop Assistants Act 1899; Report of Select Committee of House of Commons on the Shop Hours Regulation Bill 1886 (Eyre and Spottiswoode). (d) Truck: Home Office Reports: Annual Reports of H.M. Chief Inspector of Factories, especially 1895-1900, Memorandum on the Law relating to Truck and Checkweighing Clauses of the Coal Mines Acts 1896, Memorandum relating to the Truck Acts, by Sir Kenelm Digby, with text of Acts (1897).
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- Article Name: History of Labour Legislation
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- Description: History of Labour Legislation in the UK Introduction In England there were, at the begining of the 20th Century, a notable [...]
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