Sidebilder
PDF

however, seems sufficient to warrant the preparation of an adequate law to meet any industrial conditions. The amount of litigation that has reached the courts of last resort, which is the only authentic test that the Bureau of Labor Statistics can use to determine the extent to which the courts have been resorted to in connection with the compensation laws, indicates the importance of careful wording and full provision to carry out the intentions of the legislatures. That this litigation has not been without profit is evident from the number of amendments that have been adopted incorporating court constructions or otherwise meeting the points raised in the actions at law.

WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LAWS OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES.'

BY CHAS. H. VERRILL.

The principle of systematic compensation for losses due to industrial accident has been known in Europe for over a century, the earliest examples being found in the mining, industries, especially in Germany and Austria. As these industries were the first to be operated on a large scale with large numbers of employees whose life and safety depended on the care and skill of the manager and of the fellow workmen, and, in addition, had a higher danger rate, it was but natural that attempts should be made to provide in a definite manner for the relief of the distress caused by accidental injuries or other physical disability of employees. The industry of navigation possessed similar characteristics and also developed at an early date comparatively well-defined systems of relief for disability arising from the operations of vessels. The next industry to be operated on a large scale, an industry which had at the same time a high trade risk, was that of railway transportation, and in the States of the present German Empire we find early efforts to make provision for railway employees on a more liberal scale than that prevailing in the manufacturing industries.

With the introduction of the factory system, the development of large-scale industries, and the more extensive use of power machinery there was an increase in the trade risk of the industries so affected. Previous to the development of large-scale production a system of compensation for industrial accidents prevailed in practically all countries of the world, based on the idea that a workman suffering an injury from industrial accident should be compensated by the person or persons at fault in causing the accident. The relief provided under the civil code hi continental Europe was more readily obtainable than that permitted under the English common law, but in each case the person liable was supposed to have committed some fault, and it was necessary for the plaintiff to begin suit and to prove such fault or negligence according to the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts of each country.

To distinguish them from employers' liability laws, the term "workmen's compensation laws" is used to designate those acts which

■This article is a revision and extension of similar articles published under the title "Summary of foreign workmen's compensation acts" in Bulletin No. 74 (January, 1908) and BuUetin No. 90 (September, 1910J of the United States Bureau of Labor. It is believed that it covers all legislation to the end of 1913.

provide for the award of fixed sums to employees injured by industrial accidents, without the necessity of litigation and without reference to the question of negligence upon which employers' liability acts are based. It is provided in most such laws, however, that gross negligence on the part of the injured person will bar his right to compensation, while, on the other hand, such negligence on the part of the employer sometimes gives rise to a right to increased compensation.

The first country to adopt a comprehensive system of accident compensation on a national scale was Germany in 1884. Austria followed in 1887, and since then practically all industrial foreign countries have adopted this plan, with greater or less modifications. Disregarding early acts affecting only selected groups of workmen, the order in which the various countries (41 in number) have passed laws providing national systems of accident compensation is shown as follows:

DATES OF ENACTMENT OF FOREIGN COMPENSATION LAWS.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

The industries usually covered by the acts are manufacturing, mining and quarrying, transportation, building and engineering work, and in some countries agriculture, forestry, and navigation. In Venezuela only mining is covered and in Greece only mining, quarrying, and metallurgy. In Belgium and Great Britain the laws apply to practically all employments.

The persons subject to compensation within the industries covered in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden are wage earners only, and in some cases those exposed to tho same risks, such as overseers and technical experts. On the other hand, in France, Great Britain, the British colonies, Hungary, and Russia the laws apply to salaried employees and workmen equally.

Overseers, technical experts, and employees earning more than a prescribed amount are excluded in some countries, as Belgium ($463), Denmark ($643), Germany ($1,190), Great Britain ($1,217), Italy ($1.35 a day), Luxemburg ($724), Manitoba ($1,200), New Zealand ($1,265), and Transvaal ($2,433). Employees of the State, provincial, and local administrations usually come within the provisions of the acts.

It will thus be seen that even in the countries which were earliest in accepting the principles of workmen's compensation the systems of insurance do not in most cases cover all wage earners. The German Imperial Insurance Office in December, 1912, published an estimate presenting, so far as the data were available, the number of wage earners in the population and tho number of wage earners covered by the accident compensation insurance.

NUMBER OF WAGE EARNERS IN THE POPULATION AND NUMBER OK PERSONS COVERED BY ACCIDENT COMPENSATION INSURANCE.

[From Die Sozialversictaening in Europa nach dem gegenw&rtigen Stando der Qcsetzgebung in de verschiedenen Staaten. Ergiinzter Noudruck (Januar, 1913) dcr Sonderbeilago zum Reichs-Arbeits blatte Nr. 12,1912.]

[graphic][table]

The laws in every case fix the compensation to be paid, and with but one or two unimportant exceptions the compensation is based upon the wages received by the injured person. It consists of allowance for temporary disability and annual pensions or lumpsum payments for permanent disability or death, to which are added frequently the expenses of medical and surgical treatment and the funeral benefit.

The laws of the various countries are not all equally liberal in providing for compensation in the case of minor accidents, regardless of the period of resulting disability. Eight countries grant compensation for all injuries involving any loss of working time, most important among these being Italy, Russia, and Spain. In most countries, however, a "waiting time" is fixed, beyond which disability must extend in order to entitle the injured workman to compensation. This waiting time varies greatly, from 2 days, for example, in the Netherlands and Switzerland up to 60 days in Sweden and 13 weeks in Denmark. These variations in waiting time, it may be noted, are important as measuring the completeness with which accident disabilities are compensated under the various systems, and must be borne in mind in a study of accident statistics whenever such statistics are based upon the accidents compensated, as is the practice in some countries.

In the following statement is shown for each country the length of disability necessary under the law to entitle the injured workman to compensation. In this statement no note is made of provisions for benefits in the form of medical treatment, medicines, etc.

[table]

In some of the countries compensation during the early part of the disability period is paid out of sickness insurance funds established under systems of compulsory sickness insurance. Where such provision is made full account has been taken of the fact in making up

> Including benefits paid out of compulsory sickness insurance funds during early part of d isabil ities due to accident, as explained in the text. 'See also next page.

« ForrigeFortsett »