The Law-Loving Capitalist

“Hardly any infringement of the Factorv Acts is more difficult to discover or proceed against than the employment of a woman within four weeks of her confinement, chiefly owing to the burden of proof resting with the inspector as to the employer’s knowledge of the facts. Athough we have good reason to believe that such employment occurs frequently in certain districts, only one clear case, namely, this one, has yet occurred within our knowledge as suitable for proceedings, and in this case it was owing to the fact that the woman was sent for by the foreman, who was pressed for workers, on the ninth day after her confinement, although he had been informed of the reason of her absence on the day she left the mill. This unfortunate woman, although she made some attempt to screen her employers when called as a witness by Miss Squire (the factory inspector), was nevertheless dismissed from her employment after the result of the case (conviction and small penalty) was known. She obtained employment from one of the magistrates who heard her case soon afterwards, and thus removed her personal difficulties; it would do little or nothing, however, to counteract the effect on the workers’ minds of the conduct of the employer, who, by dismissing her, showed his contempt for the law and the kind of course he was likely to pursue with any worker who admitted facts as to infringements of the law to one of H.M. Inspectors.”—Extract from Annual Report of Inspectors of Factories.

(Socialist Standard, January 1905)