Skip to navigation | Skip to content
Life & Work
The condition of the workers is the question of the hour. It will be answered one way or another, rationally or irrationally, and which way it goes is of the greatest importance to the state. Rerum Novarum – ‘Off New Things’ paragraph 58.1 (1891)
Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature. Laborem Exercens – ‘On Human Work’ (1981)
Photo credit: CAFOD
Christine Allen, Director of Progressio highlights how the basic principles of justice in the workplace remain as relevant today as they ever were
In our complex world it can sometimes be difficult to navigate a way through the pressures and strains of everyday life. Whether it be finding a job, facing debt, earning enough to make ends meet, and juggling the challenges of family life (what is called today “the work-life balance”), people today face a range of different challenges. For employers too, the pressures are not insignificant – keeping businesses running, recruiting and retaining the right people.
Today we face questions of justice, economics and organisation that go beyond even the thinking of the most contemporary management manual. And when put in a global context, the issues are polarised. There are millions around the world who toil in horrific conditions to bring goods to the tables of the global rich or to prop up the luxurious lifestyles of the few.
Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical Rerum Novarum - Of New things (1891) laid out the rights of workers. It came at a time when the industrial revolution was dramatically changing the world of work. The core of the Pope’s message was that the dignity of the human person needed to be respected in work, and that the Church had a duty to speak out when human dignity was affronted.
One of the central themes – that work should be a means to find fulfilment, not a form of slavery, is a point still relevant today, especially when we look at the nature of work across the world.
Click on the 'more' link below to read a further explanation of this theme:
Reflecting on Catholic Social Teaching to take responsibility for each other has inspired Justice and Peace Groups in Scotland to supply fairtrade products to parishes, in the knowledge of...
The Challenge to put people first remains
The G20 meeting in London in Spring 2009 allowed organisations to join together to promote their message of putting the marginalised first, with the...
A minimum income standard for the UK in 2010
Since 2008 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published annual updates on what members of the public think people need to have to...