With the growth of civilized societies, a desire for ‘Social protection was also grown.  The security of individuals and their families was hampered because of the accident, injury, disablement, disease, old age, maternity, unemployment, etc. Loss of income due to any reason was (and is) considered a ‘social risk’ as it affects not only the wage -earner but also his / her family and dependants. Therefore, during the Middle Ages, the search for social protection evolved within societies.

Some help was provided by Raja (the King), public authorities, trade unions or local groups. Indian origin and Kautilys’s Arthshashtra. Some examples are available in the Roman era and France. The French Revolution set forth the right to security, mutual assistance, and relief. With the beginning of the 19th century due to industrialization in European societies, working conditions, life, and multifarious risks, insecurity was increased. The trade unions in Great Britain started to give unemployment benefits.

At the end of the 19th century. King Bismarck of Germany set up the first compulsory social security scheme for wage earners in the industry. The scheme included sickness insurance (1884) and disablement and old-age insurance (1889). At the beginning of 20th-century European countries supported the mutual benefit society by subsidies. Prior to 1919, several national legislations established non-contributory pension schemes. This initial scope was limited to workers of low salaries. Amounts of medical care and sickness insurance schemes were limited. Disablement pensions and old – age and survivors’ benefits had just started.


The First World War awoke the need to combat social insecurity more sensitively than in the past. The establishment of ILO in 1919 supported the movement of protection of workers against the main social risk and a large number of national laws were passed in Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia.


Some ILO Conventions on social security are as under :

  1. Workmen’s Compensation (Agriculture), Con 1921 (No. 12).
  2. Workmen’s Compensation (Accidents), Con 1925 (No. 17).
  3. Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases), Con. 1925 (No. 18).
  4. Sickness Insurance (Industry) Con. 1927 (No. 24).
  5. Sickness Insurance (Agriculture) Con. 1927 (No. 25).
  6. Old-Age Insurance (Ind.) Con. 1933 (No. 35).
  7. Invalidity Insurance (Ind.) Con. 1933 (No. 37).
  8. Survivors Insurance (Ind.) Con. 1933 (No. 39).      
  9. Workmen’s compensation (Occupational Diseases Con.  (Revised) 1934 (No. 42).

Some earlier ILO Recommendations are as under:

  1. Social Insurance (Agriculture) Rec. 1921 (No. 17).
  2. Workmen’s  Compensation  (Minimum Scale) Rec. No. 22 (Jurisdiction), Rec. No. 23 (Occupational Diseases), Rec. No. 24, all of 1925.
  3. Sickness Insurance Rec. 1927 (No. 29).
  4. The invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors’ Insurance Rec. 1933 (No. 43).

The modern doctrine of social security evolved after the end of the Second World War. In 1935 the United States adopted a social security law. New Zealand adopted the law in 1938. Lord Beverage’s report of 1942 in the UK stressed the radical reformation of social insurance and allied services. Atlantic Charter (1941) also extended the object in countries that signed it. The decisive step towards wider and universal protection was made in 1944 by ILO by accepting the following two international. instruments

Following are some ILO conventions subsequently adopted:

  1. Social Security (Minimum Standards)  Con.1952  (No.102)
  2. Equity of Treatment (Social Security) Con. 1922 (No.118)
  3. Employment Injury Benefits Con. 1964  (No.l21)
  4. Invalidity Old-Age and Survivors Benefits Con. 1967  (No.128)
  5. Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Con. 1969 (No.130)
  6. Maintenance of   Social Security Rights Con. 1982 (No.157)

Similarly following are some subsequent recommendations:

  1. Unemployment Provision Rec. 1934 (No. 44).
  2. Income Security Rec. 1944 (No. 67).
  3. Medical care Rec. 1944 (No. 69).
  4. Employment Injury Benefits Rec. 1964 (No. 121).
  5. The invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors’ Benefit Rec. 1967 (No. 131).
  6. Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Rec. 1969 (No. 134).
  7. Older Workers Rec. 1980 (No. 162).
  8. Maintenance of Social Security Rights Rec. 1983 (No. 167).

Above convention No. 102 gave one definition of social security’ which includes nine contingencies: medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit, and survivor’s benefit.

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