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One of the larger societies of this class, the National Deposit Friendly Society, was organized as a local society in 1868, and made a national organization under registered rules four years later. It provides sick, medical, and old-age pay, pensions, endowments, and ordinary life assurances, but its prominent feature is its deposit system. "A member has neither to be ill or die to receive benefit. If he is fortunate enough not to require sick or medical pay, then his money accumulates and is at his disposal for a rainy day.”
The criticisms of these societies, that they are essentially savings banks rather than friendly societies, not professing to give insurance, and are primarily individual and not social, are resented by the supporters of the deposit idea, who maintain that the scope of the friendly society is broad enough to cover this scheme as well. That the deposit plan appeals to considerable numbers of British workmen is inferable from the fact that the one society above named has made a constant and rapid growth, and especially in the later years of its history, as appears from the following table:
MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL DEPOSIT FRIENDLY
SOCIETY FOR CERTAIN YEARS.
In 1907 the total membership had grown to 169,100 and the total investments to £844,838 18s. 11d. ($4,111,409), the total assets at that date being £874,820 178. 4d. ($4,257,316).
The membership comprises both sexes, the age of admission ranging from 5 to 55 years. Three classes of members are formed, Class A consisting of males from 5 to 35 years of age, in good health, of sound constitution, with good family record, and employed in an approved occupation; Class B, of males from 5 to 35 years of age not reaching the standard of Class A in one or more of the above particulars; of males between 35 and 45 and of females between 5 and 40 years of age who possess the qualifications of Class A; and Class C, of males under 55 and females under 50 years of age falling within certain less favorable conditions of health, hereditary tendencies, and occupation.
Children between the ages of 5 and 13 years may pay no more than 6d. (12 cents) per month, and those from 13 to 16 not more than 1s. 6d. (37 cents) per month. A member over 16 years age
determines the rate of his contribution, the amount of the monthly contri
bution fixing the daily sick pay, though this may not exceed 10s. ($2.43) for males and 5s. ($1.22) for females. Thus a member who wishes to draw 2s. 6d. (61 cents) as daily pay in event of sickness must pay that sum as his monthly contribution. Besides these contributions, each member has a deposit or savings bank account in the society, subject entirely to his control except for the restriction that he must never reduce it below an amount equal to the sum of his last twelve monthly contributions unless required for sick or medical pay. This deposit draws interest at the rate of 24 per cent per annum.
From the amount paid in as contributions deductions are made annually for the member's share of the general sick fund and the funds for old age, funeral pay, and management, the balance being transferred to the member's deposit account. Should a member at any time desire to leave the society, the whole of his deposit is paid him, less an amount equal to his last twelve months' contributions. In case of death, the whole deposit is paid over, plus £3 ($14.60) from the society's funeral fund. Members going on the sick fund pay a share of their benefits out of their own deposits at a rate varying according to classification, members of Class A paying onefourth, of Class B one-third, and Class C one-half of their individual benefits. “All benefit is thus absolutely dependent on deposit, and it is in this way that the society 'helps those who help themselves.”” It is to a member's own interest “to keep off the sick list, or, if on it, to get off again as soon as possible," and malingering is a thing practically unknown in the society.” The society claims to have the "lowest average of sickness amongst all existing friendly societies.”
In confinement, a married woman receives one month's sick benefit on the basis of Class C, if her deposit account will permit. If a deposit account is exhausted by reason of protracted illness, a person who has been a member for twelve months may receive a sum from the sick fund of the society equal to the amount he had received during the continuance of the same illness and for the same length of time, which sum is known as “grace pay.” Thus if he had drawn 2s. (49 cents) per day for twelve months, contributing one-fourth from his own deposit, he would be entitled after the exhaustion of his deposit to a payment of Is. 6d. (37 cents) per day for six months, or 9d. (18 cents) per day for twelve months. The member is not required to repay this sum on his recovery, but can draw no more sick pay until after twelve months, nor can he receive “grace pay” more than once in five years.
Provision for old-age pay is a special feature of this organization. At the age of 70 years a member's right to sick relief and his contributions to the common sick fund cease, but in lieu thereof he contributes to the old-age fund one-half the amount of his former monthly contribution, and may receive as old-age pay a sum not exceeding one-half the sum he had been previously entitled to as sick pay. Such old-age pay is charged against the member's deposit in part and in part drawn from the old-age fund of the society in the proportions shown in the following table: PROPORTION OF OLD-AGE PAY CHARGED AGAINST VARIOUS FUNDS, NATIONAL
FRIENDLY DEPOSIT SOCIETY.
A friendly society of one of the forms above discussed may be formed in connection with some particular shop, works, or undertaking, when it is known as a factory society, shop club, or some name of like import. The employer may be, and usually is, a contributor in some form toward the maintenance of the organization, and formerly frequently made it a condition of employment that employees become members of the establishment society. With this might be coupled the requirement that membership should not be retained in another society, the object. being, as was claimed, to prevent the securing of benefits in such amounts as to encourage malingering.
The matter of compulsory membership in shop clubs and of compulsory withdrawal from other societies gave rise to complaints on the part of workmen, which resulted in the appointment by the secretary of state for the home department of a committee of investigation in the year 1898. This committee considered as shop clubs "every club and society for providing benefits to workmen in connection with a workshop, factory, or other commercial undertaking.” These they grouped into three classes, the first made up of “what are commonly known as “slate clubs,'” which have been described above as dividing societies, and which gave sick pay only. The second class provided sick pay and also kept some funds on hand for relief in cases of fatal accidents, funeral expenses, and other benefits. Some of these clubs granted employees leaving service, either voluntarily or by dismissal, a part of their accumulated contributions, but generally not their full
value, while others declared a forfeiture of all claims on the club in such event. The third class was composed of clubs of a permanent character, which provided sick pay, medical attendance, funeral expenses, and in some cases superannuation pay. While these clubs were eligible to registration under the friendly society act, only the smaller number of them were found to be so registered, and these chiefly from the third class.
At the hearings conducted by the home department's committee the employees' representatives were divided in their opinions as to the employer's right to require as a condition of employment that the workman should be a member of some club, but finally agreed that they would be satisfied with the prohibition of a requirement of a condition of employment that the employee should belong to any particular society or that he should cease to belong to any particular society.
The employers' reasons for insisting on membership in the shop clubs were summed up by the committee in the following language:
However favorable to the workmen the scheme of a shop club might be, there would generally be some who through thriftlessness, negligence, or obstinacy would fail to avail themselves of it.
Where all the workmen do not join the shop club, the purpose of preventing vexatious casual appeals, both to employer and fellowworkmen, for assistance (which is a leading motive for the establishment of shop clubs) would be defeated.
It is conducive to the stability of the club that its risks should be distributed over as large an area as possible—that is, over the whole number of workmen employed.
The circumstance that the club applies to the whole body of workmen would enable the members to secure the greatest amount of . benefit at the cheapest rate.
A large majority of the workmen in the employment, including, as a rule, the most careful and thoughtful men, being in favor of the club extending over the whole body, their view ought to prevail over that of the minority
The conclusions reached by the committee themselves were that a shop club should be registered under the friendly societies act; that it should be permanent in its character; that it should afford to the workmen substantial benefits at the cost of the employer in addition to those provided by the contributions of the workmen themselves, and that the conditions of insurance, taken as a whole, should be satisfactory and be calculated to be beneficial to the workmen. If these conditions were met, the committee thought, the law might permit the employer to require employees to join his shop club; otherwise not.
These recommendations were practically enacted in the Shop Clubs Act of 1902, with the added provision that, before certification, the registrar should satisfy himself that at least 75 per cent of the workmen desire the establishment of such a fund. Workmen's objections
shall also be considered. Restrictions as to membership in other societies are prohibited. The results have been but slight in so far as the formation of such clubs is concerned, but it is the opinion of the chief registrar that the law has put an end to the requirement of membership in shop clubs as a condition of employment, except in the few cases in which the club is registered under the act. Seven clubs were registered up to the end of the year 1907, five of these having been registered in 1903. The number has not been increased since the end of 1904.
Distinct from both the shop clubs and the trade unions are those friendly societies whose membership is made up of persons associated with particular professions, industries, or trades. They are of no particular type, their one characteristic being the limitation of their membership to a single industrial class or group. The same may be said of a number of societies that admit only females to membership. By the report for the year 1906, agricultural laborers had the largest number of trade societies, though they ranked fourth in the number of members, societies composed of miners and quarrymen being far in the lead in the matter of membership, and being almost as numerous as are the societies of agricultural laborers. There were 832 societies of this class reported in 1906, of which the more important groups were 220 of agricultural laborers, with a total membership of 26,213, and funds amounting to £294,850 ($1,434,888); 215 miners and quarrymen's societies, with 423,246 members and £965,593 ($4,699,058) funds; 73 societies of railway employees, with 151,547 members and funds to the amount of £1,489,119 ($7,246,798); and 62 societies of textile workers, with 48,964 members and £156,943 ($763,763) funds.
MINERS' PERMANENT RELIEF FUNDS.
A distinctive group of societies of this class is that composed of what are known as the miners' permanent relief funds. These are a recent development of the friendly society idea, and owe their origin to the peculiar hazard of the industry among whose employees they have their special field. Some societies excluded miners entirely from membership, while others adopted higher rates of contribution to meet the greater risks of their employment. Discriminations of this sort were difficult of enforcement, however, and the conclusion was reached that the more effective and satisfactory solution of the problem lay in the formation of separate societies. These societies ignore sickness and provide for relief only in case of accident, whether fatal or nonfatal, though one, the Midland District Miners' Fatal. Accident Relief Society, is restricted, as its name indicates, to cases