Wage Provides Basic Social Security for Worker and Household
A just wage includes — for the worker and the worker’s household — adequate health care coverage; retirement income; wage protection in case of injury, inability to work, and death; wage protection in case of unemployment; and provisions for paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, provisions to defray the expenses associated with child care, and paid family leave upon the extended illness of a household member.
- What Does CST Say?
- What Does Research Show?
- What is the Law?
- Who Does it Well?
What does CST say about wages offering basic social security?
“There is certainly a legitimate sphere of autonomy in economic life which the State should not enter. The State, however, has the task of determining the juridical framework within which economic affairs are to be conducted, and thus of safeguarding the prerequisites of a free economy, which presumes a certain equality between the parties, such that one party would not be so powerful as practically to reduce the other to subservience. // In this regard, Rerum novarum points the way to just reforms which can restore dignity to work as the free activity of man. These reforms imply that society and the State will both assume responsibility, especially for protecting the worker from the nightmare of unemployment. Historically, this has happened in two converging ways: either through economic policies aimed at ensuring balanced growth and full employment, or through unemployment insurance and retraining programmes capable of ensuring a smooth transfer of workers from crisis sectors to those in expansion.”
— Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (1991), 15
“These objectives include a sufficient wage for the support of the family, social insurance for old age and unemployment, and adequate protection for the conditions of employment.”
— Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (1991), 34
“Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in health care, especially in the case of accidents at work, demand that medical assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible it should be cheap or even free of charge. Another sector regarding benefits is the sector associated with the right to rest. In the first place this involves a regular weekly rest comprising at least Sunday, and also a longer period of rest, namely the holiday or vacation taken once a year or possibly in several shorter periods during the year. A third sector concerns the right to a pension and to insurance for old age and in case of accidents at work. Within the sphere of these principal rights, there develops a whole system of particular rights which, together with remuneration for work, determine the correct relationship between worker and employer. Among these rights there should never be overlooked the right to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers’ physical health or to their moral integrity.”
“This means of checking concerns above all the family. Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining a family and for providing security for its future. Such remuneration can be given either through what is called a family wage-that is, a single salary given to the head of the family for his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to take up gainful employment outside the home-or through other social measures such as family allowances or grants to mothers devoting themselves exclusively to their families. These grants should correspond to the actual needs, that is, to the number of dependents for as long as they are not in a position to assume proper responsibility for their own lives.”
— Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 19
“The rights of workers, like all other rights, are based on the nature of the human person and on his transcendent dignity. The Church’s social Magisterium has seen fit to list some of these rights, in the hope that they will be recognized in juridical systems: the right to a just wage;  the right to rest;  the right “to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers’ physical health or to their moral integrity”;  the right that one’s personality in the workplace should be safeguarded “without suffering any affront to one’s conscience or personal dignity”;  the right to appropriate subsidies that are necessary for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families;  the right to a pension and to insurance for old age, sickness, and in case of work-related accidents;  the right to social security connected with maternity;  the right to assemble and form associations. These rights are often infringed, as is confirmed by the sad fact of workers who are underpaid and without protection or adequate representation. It often happens that work conditions for men, women and children, especially in developing countries, are so inhumane that they are an offence to their dignity and compromise their health.”
— Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004), 301