Occupational welfare

Authored by: Kevin Farnsworth

The Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415682923
eBook ISBN: 9780203084229
Adobe ISBN: 9781136190230


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There is nothing new about occupational welfare – various social benefits provided by employers to employees (Goodin and Rein, 2001). In fact, employers dominated early ‘social’ provision until the beginning of the twentieth century, providing educational services, housing, and community provision (Hay, 1977, pp. 435–55; Russell, 1991). And workplace provision continued to play a role – a key role for some – in overall receipts of welfare benefits even after the establishment of the modern ‘welfare state’. Richard Titmuss (1976) recognised its importance and argued that occupational welfare was one of the key pillars of the welfare state. The role that occupational welfare plays in today’s welfare systems varies, however, between welfare states and between categories of worker. Categorising and measuring it is a complex task. As a result, occupational welfare continues to receive pretty scant treatment in social policy analysis today (but see Farnsworth, 2004, pp. 437–55; Greve, 2007; May and Brunsdon, 1994, pp. 146– 69; Rein, 1983, pp. 3–22, 1996, pp. 27–43). This chapter deals with three key questions in turn: 1) What constites occupational welfare?; 2) What is the purpose of occupational welfare?; and 3) How much does occupational welfare cost? The chapter then raises some key questions relating to occupational welfare that remain unanswered before concluding with a plea for more research into the area.

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