Principles of modem labour legislation are as follows:
Principle of Protection
The principle of protection suggests the enactment of labour legislation to protect those workers who are not able to protect their interests on their own and also workers, in particular industries against the hazards of industrial processes.
The principle of social justice implies the establishment of equality in social relationships. It aims at removing the discrimination suffered by particular groups of labour.
Principle of Regulation
The principle of regulation generally seeks to regulate the relationships between employers and their associations, on one hand, and workers and their organisations, on the other.
As the relationships between the two groups have repercussions on society, the laws enacted on this principle also aim at safeguarding the interests of society against the adverse consequences of collusion or a combination between them.
Thus, the principle of regulation seeks to regulate the balance of power in the relationships of the two dominant groups in industrial relations.
Principle of Welfare
Although the protective and social security laws have the effect of promoting labour welfare, special labour welfare, or labour welfare fund laws have also been enacted, with a view to providing certain welfare amenities to the workers, and often to their family members also.
Some of the protective labour laws such as the Factories Acts, Mines Acts, and Plantation Labour Acts also contain separate ‘welfare’ provisions.
The main purpose behind the enactment of labour laws on this principle is to ensure the provision of certain basic amenities to workers at their place of work and also, to improve the living conditions of workers and their family members.
Although an element of humanitarianism is involved in this principle, it has wider implications for promoting labour efficiency, establishment of industrial peace, and ensuring a stable and satisfied workforce.
The principle of social security may be considered to be a part of the principle of welfare, but in view of its special connotation, it is desirable to keep it under a separate category.
In industrial societies, income insecurity resulting from various contingencies of life such as disablement, old age and death, and others have become a serious problem. One of the outstanding measures to mitigate the hardship is to make available social security benefits under the coverage of legislation.
Principle of Economic Development
Labour laws have also been enacted keeping in view the need for the economic and industrial development of particular countries.
Improvement of physical working conditions, the establishment of industrial peace, provision of machineries for settlement of industrial disputes, formation of forums of workers’ participation in management, prohibition of unfair labour practices, restrictions on strikes and lock-outs, provision of social security benefits and welfare facilities, certification of collective agreements and regulation of hours of work have a direct or indirect bearing on the pace and extent of economic development. These areas are covered under different pieces of labour laws.
Principle of International Obligation
This principle postulates the enactment of labour laws with a view to giving effect to the provisions of resolutions, adopted by international organisations like ILO, UN, and similar other bodies. In general, the countries ratifying the resolutions or agreements are under the obligation to enforce them. One of the instruments of doing so is the enactment of laws.
In regard to labour legislation, the impact of ILO is of particular significance. The resolutions of ILO generally take the form of Conventions and Recommendations. The Conventions are obligation-creating instruments. The member states ratifying them are under the obligation of implementing their provisions by enacting labour laws or through collective agreements or other effective measures.
In practice, the implementation of the provisions of the Conventions is mostly done by enacting new labour laws or amending the existing ones. The Recommendations, on the other hand, are not obligation-creating instruments. They are sent to the member states with a request to consider them while enacting labour laws or taking decisions in regard to matters covered under them.