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[Solved] Child Labour: The Impact of Factory Acts in Nineteenth Century Britain

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[Solved] Child Labour: The Impact of Factory Acts in Nineteenth Century Britain

Introduction Child labour is becoming the increasing problem in the world because many of the factories are employing younger children. The aim of the paper is to evaluate the impact of the Factory Act on the child labour. For this purpose, the Factory Act 1833 (Althorp’s Act) and the Factory Act 1844 (Graham’s Factory Act) are used for evaluating the impact of legislation on child labour.

Factory Act 1833

The Industrial Revolution of Britain has encouraged advances in the technology due to which the relationship of the workers with the organisation has been impacted. It has also permitted the incredible growth of wealth in relation to the growing British Empire. Moreover, the children of the industrial revolution turned out to be a critical inexpensive source of labour. However, in the nineteen century, some of the government officials focused towards protecting workers such as children from the abuses in the new factories. The Factory Act of 1833 was introduced as the groundbreaking legislation by the leaders such as Michael Thomas Sadler, Richard Oastler, Cooper Ashley, and Lord Anthony, which is navigated through uncooperative Parliament. This demonstrates that Factory Act 1833 is based on child labour. In this act, the mechanism of enforcement was incorporated along with the nascent beginning related to public education1. 

The change in the technology and the development of the new working conditions assisted in gaining sufficient strength in order to ensure sustained and serious effort in order to regulate their implementation. It is noticed that both workers and employers considered themselves to be locked into the system of actions, attitudes, and responses. Moreover, in the late 19th century, the textile mills in the Britain were rural and employed labour from the local national industries.  Child labour in the textile factors was high until the 19th century. Many of the boys under the age of 20 were employed in the occupations such as domestic servant, agricultural labour, and cotton manufacture. While for girls, the main employment opportunity was in the cotton manufacture sector. This demonstrates that children formed a large portion of the workforce in the textile mills with Britain in the 19th century.

In 1833, this Factory Act was passed by the government with the intention to improve the conditions for the children that are working in the factories. The act turned out to be the major accomplishment for the rights related to child workers. With the help of this legislation, the children working in the factory would be ensured safer working. This act was introduced because children labour was increasing widely and young children were working in the workplaces for long hours and in terrible situations2. In order to control this problem, the Factory Act 1833 was introduced, which was based on following aspects:

  • Children under the age of nine cannot be employed as labour
  • Proper age certificate must be there with the employer in order to incorporate child labour
  • The children of ages 9 to 13 years will not work more  than 9 hours in a day
  • The children between the age of 13 to 18 years will not work more than 12 hours in a day
  • Each of the children would be provided 2 hours for schooling
  • Children would not be forced to work at night that is after 8: 30 pm and before 5: 30 am
  • Four factory inspectors must be appointed in order to enforce the law

These are some of the basic features of the Factory Act 1833 with respect to child labour in the Great Britain. In the 10th century, the problem of child labour was very common in the nation due to which the government introduced this act. However, the situation for children labour improved little but it did not result in the expected improved because the problems in relation to the child labour were still present in the workplace.

The reformed of the 19th century were outraged with the idea of a six-year-old child labouring in the textile factories. In these factories, small children were not given importance. It is noticed from a survey provided in the study that 0.49 percent of the children under the age of 9 and 2.08 percent of the children under the age of 10 were working as labour in the different factories such as wool, cotton, silk, and flax. This survey was performed before the introduction of the Factory Act 1933, which means that the factories did not have the incentive to understate the number of child labour. Based on the survey, it is evaluated that the problem of child labour in the nineteenth century in the Great Britain was significant. Therefore, in order to deal with these issues effective, the Factory Act 1833 was introduced3.

In the Factory Act, the educational clauses were incorporated in order to enforce the clauses related to hours. The requirement of an educational certificate placed an additional hindrance in the approach of potential evaders of the law. However, the attendance of the school was low because many of the children were found in the parts of the factories where they could work along with attending school.  Notwithstanding, these deficiencies in the schools of the factory, little education actually took place among such children. Another key clause of the Factory Act 1833 was the limitation on the working ours. The children between the ages of nine to twelve were not allowed to work more than 48 hours in a week. However, if the factory has to run more than 48 hours then according to this provision, it is important for the employers to hire relays of children or to substitute them with some older workers.

Brebner[i] said that the combined effect of the implementation of the education and hour’s clause was to enforce an understood tax on the employment of the children working in the textile factories. The age certificates and the registers needed to be filled out and the mill owners had to hire people in order to do paperwork. Moreover, relay system also formed the reason of increasing supervision costs and in case there was no school, then it was the responsibility of the factory owner to provide the school. The summation of these costs instituted the implied tax on the employment of the children4.

Factory Act 1844

It is noted that in 1844, the British parliament passed a further Factories Act which as a result was the principal wellbeing and security act in Britain. Moreover, all perilous tools were to be safely fenced off, and inability to do as such viewed as a criminal offence. In addition, no child allowed cleaning factory apparatus while it was in movement. The Act restricted the hours worked by youngsters to six and a half, with three hours educating, and set a greatest 12-hour day for youngsters somewhere around 13 and 18 and the 12-hour regulations likewise applied for women as well. Most of the women proceeded with their battle for a ten-hour day for girls and youngsters matured somewhere around 13 and 18, which finally accomplished its goal in the 1847 Factory Act. Nonetheless, it must be caught up by further Acts to evacuate ambiguities with respect to the meaning of the working day that was still being exploited by factory employees and owners5.

It is found that the Great Factory Act of 1844 enhanced UK factory conditions to some extent, yet employers still saw no monetary effect of an undesirable or a dangerous working environment. Indeed, the groups of workers who died at work had the minimal lawful plan of action. At most they had their memorial service costs secured by the business. On the other hand, in 1880, England passed the Employers` Liability Act that made it workable for representatives, or their families, to sue a business for damages. This demonstration made the businesses more aware of the expenses of not tending to the security of their working conditions. Nonetheless, the family still had the difficult task of demonstrating the worker (or a fellow representative) was not the reason for his own passing, didn`t know about the danger, or that the business was careless. Furthermore, the plant inspections and the present laws expanded employer’s familiarity with about the occupational safety, yet it was not until the labourer remuneration laws were passed that industry proprietors, at last, started to understand the expenses connected with occupation wounds.

This considered Act stated that such kids have joined the school as needed by this law but it shall not be legitimate to hire any kid in a factory more than 7 hours in a single day till the proprietor of the factory shall have directed a notice in writing to the checker of the region of his intent. This is done to limit the hours of worker of young individuals in the place of work to around 10 hours in a day. Moreover, in order to hire children for ten hours a day; as well as if such inhabitant of a factory shall at any time stop so to work children 10 hours in a day. Then he shall not yet again hire any single child in his workplace more than 7 hours in any working day till he shall have guided an extra notice to the inspector in the way that was earlier provided6.

Workers Remunerations Laws in 1844 Act

It is observed that the worker remuneration laws secured worker damage regardless of their fault; yet workers could no more sue their managers under a normal law (outsider claims were still legitimate). Apparently, the labourer pay laws were gone to ensure representatives. In any case, they were really gone to control the quantity of expensive claims against managers, and therefore empowering an "anticipated expense of working together. Subsequently, so far the best intervention for enhancing work-related wellbeing and wellbeing seemed to be the execution of top-down administrative regulations.  Horrell & Humphries stated that enactment is one procedure by which government influences wellbeing and legal procedure is another6. Together they change the impulse for security or make another driving force, and the impetus is characterised as time, cash and exertion. In this manner, regulations at long last made it financially savvy for managers to take care of working conditions that unfavourably influence representatives` wellbeing and security; however they were not generally to the greatest advantage of the worker.

This considered act likewise broadened the same advantages of limited hours to ladies, recommending their comparability to kids, at any rate as bodies that required more noteworthy intervention from the state to guarantee their assurance. However, such regulations of bodies not just assumed a vital part in the development of youth and womanliness through this enactment additionally mirrored the social force at work in making those ideas. Furthermore, the 1844 Act limited the work of ladies and adolescents to twelve hours, yet the work could, in any case, occur inside a more drawn out time range of fifteen hours7. Additionally, following a couple of years, some factory proprietors began to utilise transfers with a specific end goal to keep the work going for the full 15 hours7. Most of the controllers opposed this translation of the law, essentially on the grounds that it made effective investigation extremely hard. On the off chance that industrial facilities were controlled by convoluted frameworks of transfers, it would be verging on difficult to recognise examples of unlawful behaviour. Hendrick [ii] often grumbled in his reports about the overworking of ladies and adolescents. He additionally affected a few court fights over the legitimateness of transfers, which it could be said constituted a second rush of indictment exercises by the inspectors. In addition, the activating component was boss imperviousness to the controller’s elucidation of the industrial law. For this situation, notwithstanding, the result was at first not exceptionally effective8.

1844 Act Dislike by Factory Owners

It is noticed that this Act met with determining resistance from factory proprietors, weeping over and most of the civil servants resolved to stick their paddles into the frictionless, considerate churnings of business sector strengths and mechanical goals. For example, it was "ineffective" to utilise full-grown workers to do work that should be possible generally as well and in some cases better than kids. In addition, grown-up workers were more costly; utilising it would lead them towards loss. On the other hand, expanded destitution and unemployment diminished aggressiveness in the global market for manufactured goods were however the minimum of these results. Inspectors were appointed to choose `Guaranteeing Surgeons` to whom, under Section 22 of the Act, any mishap keeping the harmed individual from coming back to work by set time the next day must be accounted for. However, the Surgeon was required to make a full investigation of nature and cause for the mischance and report to the Inspector for the particular area. Additionally, accident investigation and the advancement of safe working practices based on understanding the reasons for accidents could now start vigorously8.

The case of Priestley v Fowler in 1837 had been the first recognised common activity in which a worker effectively sued his boss. It appeared to build up the rule that a business owned a typical law obligation of care to his worker which was noteworthy if a rupture of that obligation brought about damage. According to section twenty-four of the 1844 Act, the Secretary of State might engage a factory inspector to bring an activity for harms in the interest of any individual who had been harmed by tools or machines. It is found that inspectors take appropriate actions as per the required situation in order to facilitate both employer and employees.  Furthermore, workmen`s compensation Acts broadened the legitimate security of injured labourers. According to section 43 inspectors were additionally engaged to give written notification to a plant occupier that hazardous parts of apparatus ought to be instantly fenced an imperative option to their capacity to enhance machine safety to some extent. The occupier could look for discretion over the Inspector`s choice at the same time, abnormally, would not be punished if his allure were unsuccessful unless somebody was hence harmed by his disregard to fence the risky part in query9. It is noted that the factory act 1844 help the employees to get their compensation from their employers in the case of any damage. However, it is imperative from the prospect of the factory owner to consider different acts that bound them to execute their operations legally and ethically for the reason that it would assist them to remain safe from all sorts of penalties and problems. 

Impact of 1844 Act on Working Environment of Factory

By assessing the Factory Act 1844 it is noted that it bound factory owners to provide healthy working environment to their workers in order to protect them from all sorts of harm and damages. With the help of this Act, the factory owners get the appropriate guidelines through which they can easily execute their operational activities and facilitate their workers to perform their part effectively and safely. It is noted that most of the factory owners are willing to hire children as compared to young labour because it gives them the advantage to save their labour cost and get the higher profit1.

Role of Factory Inspectors in 1833 Act

It is noted that the 1833 Act managed mainly with confinements on the livelihood of kids and youngster`s Under 18 years, it was additionally amazing in spelling the start of England`s obligatory education framework, in which Factory Inspectors had critical influence amid its initial years. Moreover, as kids between the ages of 9 and 13 were required to go to class for 2 hours on six days of the week, Inspectors needed to invest much energy in deciding their right ages. Confirmation of age required an authentication to be issued to the business by a certifying surgeon. However, Horner found some instance of gross carelessness in the execution this obligation, in one case reporting that a Surgeon indicted for issuing false endorsements had been blessed to escape imprisonment.

As per Act Inspectors were authorised to `secure the foundation` of schools and procurement of state instruction was still numerous years away and there were up `til now few schools deserving of the name. For instance, in Ashton under Lyne with a populace of around 50k and numerous factories, there was a stand out school and that was only for Roman Catholic kids. In close-by Oldham, there were no schools by any stretch of the imagination and much time was spent reviewing such schools as existed. Additionally, inspectors frequently found the guidelines of settlement and skill of educating in `woman schools`. A schoolmistress got away conviction for issuing false participation authentications on grounds that she was not able to write10. Inspectors could convince some of the more edified mill proprietors to build up schools associated with their industrial facilities usually known as `Processing plant Schools`. Under the Factory Act of 1844 Inspectors could dissolve teachers` endorsements in the event that they were of the opinion that the teacher was unequipped for training youngsters because of their own lack of education. In addition, the utilisation of this force gradually expelled incompetent teachers from the framework. Inspectors could likewise allow stipends to schools from fines coming about because of their indictments.


It is concluded based on the discussion made above that the Factory Act 1833 and 1844 are the two major legislations that have affected positively on the child labour. The introduction of the act of 1833 was made to control the increasing child labour in the factories and to enhance their right. Moreover, the Factory Act 1844 was imposed the previous act does not turn out to be very responsive due to which the employers were bound by the 1844 act to provide the safe working environment.


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