صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

already receiving pensions and superannuation allowances in the United Kingdom were in receipt of such allowances from funds to which they had themselves contributed. The committee of 1896 was also impressed by the fact that “a large and constantly increasing section of the industrial population of this country do already by prudence, self-reliance, and self-denial make their old age independent and respected.” It is apparent from these reports that this double aspect of the question, the welfare of the individual and the protection of the public funds, is kept constantly in mind.

In part springing from and in part coordinate with the friendly societies are the trade unions, for many years forbidden by law, and only receiving legal recognition at the close of the first quarter of the last century. Among the objects of these organizations is the provision of sick and accident benefits and of the payment of burial funds or other insurance of a larger amount. The development of these benefit and insurance features, largely or entirely to the exclusion of other ideas, has given rise to organizations specifically for the purpose of relief, notably among coal miners.

Unemployment insurance has never been entered upon by the British Government, though its consideration has gone as far as the preparation of a scheme, and budget estimates by the board of trade in 1909-10 included the sum of £1,500,000 ($7,299,750) for the establishment of employment offices and the financing of unemployment insurance schemes. Out-of-work benefits demand considerable sum from the funds of trade unions annually; and an act of Parliament of 1905 provided for the organization of distress committees with a view to the provision of employment or assistance for unemployed workmen, but it involves no feature of insurance.

It is apparent, therefore, that there is not in Great Britain any real provision of state insurance against industrial accidents or diseases, the compensation acts simply enforcing upon the employer certain obligations in respect of these incidents of employment, but leaving the payment of the sums stipulated by the law to the employer's own resources, unless he chooses to take out an insurance policy covering his liability under the law. The extent to which the different forms of protection are offered or secured will appear more fully in the consideration of the various voluntary agencies through which they are provided for.

а

FORM OF PRESENTATION.

The above account may suffice to indicate briefly the scope

and method of the provisions of British law and institutions in the matter of workmen's insurance, and also to furnish adequate reason for the form of presentation chosen, i. e., by considering separately the agencies through which one or more forms of protection are procured or granted, rather than by taking up separately the provisions that have regard to a single form of insurance. The latter method would involve repetition in some cases amounting to a practical duplication of material, while that chosen allows the whole of the activities of the various agencies to be set forth in immediate connection. Though this method will differ from that used in considering the other countries embraced in this report, such difference is occasioned by the nature of the objects and agencies of the various countries. As far as possible, however, the matter is classified and arranged so as to conform to the mode of presentation used in the other chapters of the report.

ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS INSURANCE.

EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY AND WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION ACTS.

These acts, while differing in principle, are alike the products of efforts to relieve the industrial classes from the burdens of the consequences of industrial accidents put upon them by the English interpretation of the common law, and will be considered in the order named.

It has always been recognized by the common law as fundamental that a person was liable for his negligent or wrongful acts which caused injury to another, and that the same liability attached for the acts of an agent as for those of the principal. On the view, however, that so precious a thing as human life could not be rated in money, and that a personal action dies with the person, no damages were allowed for death caused by accident prior to the enactment of the so-called Lord Campbell's Act in 1846. This law gave to the surviving wife, husband, parent, or child the right to recover damages in cases where the injured person would have had that right if he had lived.

While Parliament thus in some measure alleviated the condition of the victims of accidents, the courts, beginning at about the same date, formulated what is now called the fellow-servant doctrine, by which the great body of workmen were placed on a different footing from other classes of citizens. A stranger injured by the negligence of an employee would look to the master, in accordance with the doctrine, respondeat superior, but under the ruling of the court in Priestley v. Fowler (1837), followed wherever the English common law prevails, the risk of injury at the hands of a negligent coemployee is one of the risks assumed by a servant on entering employment. Recovery could still be had where the injury resulted from the personal negligence of the employer, but in large establishments, and especially where a corporation was the employer, it was practically impossible to prove such personal negligence.

EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY ACT OF 1880.

The general intendment of the employers' liability act of 1880 was to restore the employee, at least measurably, to the position he had occupied prior to the development of the fellow-servant doctrine. This doctrine was not abrogated in its entirety, but it was so modified as to allow injured employees (or their legal personal representatives, where the injury resulted in death), to recover damages in cases in which the injury was caused by reason of defects in ways, works, machinery, or plant; or of the negligence of one intrusted with superintendence, while in the exercise of such superintendence; or of the negligence of an employee to whose orders the workman was bound to conform and did conform, to his own injury; or by reason of any act or omission resulting from obedience to rules or instructions; or by reason of the negligence of an employee in charge of any signal, points, locomotive, or train on a railway.

It is apparent that these causes relate mainly to two classes of the employers' duties, that of provision of safe place and appliances and that of superintendence, the exception being in the matter of railway service, where a further restriction of the doctrine of fellow-service is regarded as justified on account of the hazardous nature of the employment.

The amount recoverable was limited so as not to exceed the equivalent of the estimated earnings for the three years preceding the receipt of the injury of a person in the same grade in like employment in the district where the injured employee was at work at the time of the injury.

The passage of the act was secured largely as a result of the efforts of organizations of workmen, the first parliamentary action on the subject having been taken in 1877, when the House of Commons appointed a committee to take evidence on the subject and report. It was thirteen years later that the act passed, and its existence was then limited to a term of seven years, subject to continuance. This has been provided for from time to time, and the law still maintains its position as an alternative mode of redress contemporaneously with the later workman's compensation acts.

The act was strongly opposed and was denounced as being of a revolutionary tendency and likely to seriously disturb industrial conditions. Amendments to the act offered in 1886 were referred to a select committee of the House of Commons with instructions that inquiry be made into the operation of the act. In its report the committee said: “A general concurrence of opinion was expressed as to the advantages which the workmen have derived from the existing act. The apprehensions as to its possible results in provoking litigation and imposing heavy charges upon employers have proved groundless, while a useful stimulus has been given to the establishment of provident funds and associations, in many cases liberally supported by the employers." The committee recommended that, with certain amendments, the law be made permanent.

Of the amendments offered from time to time a prominent one has been to the effect that contracting out of the provisions of the law should be prohibited, or, if allowed, that there should be some other consideration than the mere employment or continuance in service of the employee. This proposal was designed to meet a condition that developed immediately on the coming into effect of the act, resulting from a requirement on the part of the employer that the employee sign a contract that neither the employer nor any of his servants should be liable to an injured employee or to his personal representatives for any defect, negligence, act, or omission under the act. Such contracts were upheld by the courts. In general, they were put before the employee together with an agreement on the part of the employer to contribute to a provident fund, and these funds frequently offer compensation for injuries in cases where the employer would not be liable under the act, as well as compensating for those which the act embraces. Such compensation is not, however, necessary to make the contract a valid one. No amendment prohibiting contracting out has yet succeeded in commanding sufficient support to secure its passage, largely because such a provision would interfere with the jealously guarded freedom of contract, and partly too because workmen have in considerable numbers voiced their disåpproval of the proposed amendments.

The conditions of notice of injury within six weeks and of commencing the action within six months must be complied with in due form in order to recover under the act. Inasmuch, however, as the rights granted by the act are in addition to the common-law rights, and as the latter are in no way diminished by the statute, it may happen that where a right to recover under the act has been lost, action may still be brought at common law. Indeed it is sometimes the case that a common-law claim is joined with a claim under the liability act. Double recovery, however, can not be had.

The scope of the law is general as to the industries covered, though its use is comparatively slight and is diminishing, as will appear in the presentation of such statistical facts as have developed in the course of its operations. These data are given in connection with the statistics of the operations of the compensation acts, being uniformly treated in such connection in the British reports on these subjects.

WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION ACTS OF 1897 AND 1900.

The employers' liability act was confessedly of the nature of a compromise, and did not meet the views of the great body of wageworkers. Besides the amendments as to contracting out already noticed, it was proposed to abolish entirely the doctrine of fellowservice; to make a more liberal provision for the damages allowable, especially in the case of injuries to young persons; to enlarge the scope of the law in its definition of workmen included in its provisions; to regulate the liability of subcontractors; to modify or abrogate the defense of assumed risks, etc. A large number of suits at law were evidence of the fact that settlements under contracting-out schemes fell far short of providing for all cases of accidental injury, as well as that the parties in interest were unable to agree as to their mutual rights under the law. When the Government proposed a bill in 1893 containing a number of these amendatory features, the opposition advanced the view that "no amendment of the law relating to employers' liability will be final or satisfactory which does not provide compensation to workmen for all injuries sustained in the ordinary course of their employment, and not caused by their own acts or default.” The standard thus set up indicated a wide departure from the principles previously controlling, a departure which the compensation act of 1897 embodied as to certain classes of employees. This was the first enactment by the legislature of an English-speaking country of the doctrine of compensation as opposed to that of liability.

The law was said by its sponsors to be of an experimental character, and was limited in its application, only those employments being included which were considered as dangerous, i. e., work on railways, in factories, mines, and quarries, on engineering works, and on buildings more than 30 feet in height. The full cost of the compensation devolves on the employer. The amount payable to dependent survivors of employees accidentally killed was fixed at a sum equal to three years' earnings or at £150 ($729.98) whichever is the larger, though not more than £300 ($1,459.95) should be paid in any case. If no dependents are left, the employer is to pay the reasonable expenses of medical attendance and burial, not exceeding £10 ($48.67). Incapacity after the second week, either total or partial, was compensated for by a weekly payment not exceeding 50 per cent of the injured employee's weekly earnings for the previous twelve months, or for any shorter period during which he may have been in the service of the same employer; but the payment could not exceed £1 ($4.87) per week. After weekly payments had continued for at least six months, they could be, at the employer's request, commuted, or the

« السابقةمتابعة »