Buddhist Views on Homosexuality
Buddhism differs from other religions in one way or another. Many people have diverse opinion on what Buddha had in mind regarding many things in his manuscripts, especially on issues affecting today’s societies and nations in general. A lot of religious people would like to know more on Buddhism views on homosexuality- an issue that has been creating a lot of debates even on global platforms. Homosexuality as a sexual orientation has been deemed as a vile and vice that no one should neither talk about nor indulge in. However, Buddhists offer better and profound views on the issue.
From the scientific view of things, there are no practical evidences and facts as to why a person develops and growths with particular sexual orientations. However, experts basing their evidences on biological theories, pinpoint genetic factors or the early uterine environs as the mainstay factors towards such behaviors. Buddhism teaches and expects from its followers a certain impeccable ethical behavior and all the time. In Buddhism terms like five precepts and tanha are common and issue like homosexuality will undoubtedly break one of the precepts. Those Buddhism followers who are into homosexuality- sex between people of the same sex and gender will definitely break the third precept.
Homosexuality is not a new thing in India. It is mentioned on the Vinaya [Monastic rule] and condemned. It is mentioned along with a wide range of sexual behaviors that contravene the rule that expect monks and nuns to practice and enjoy celibacy. By way of the monastic rule, sexual behavior whether with a member of the same sex or opposite sex where body organs enter each other’s orifices in the body is punishable without any pity. If caught indulging in any sexual behaviors such as masturbation or intercrural sex, expulsion is a no go for punishment but the offenders must confess before the monastic society.
Buddhism questions the many moral and ethics that many societies abide to. Buddhists have been able to develop morals based upon compassion and reason, but not on old-fashioned ways of life. From the many Buddha ethics, there are several types of unskillful sexual behaviors that are mentioned in the teachings and writings. Buddha says while practicing the Third Precepts, it is wise to avoid sexual misconduct with girls under their parents care, unmarried women, female prisoners or any other person engaged to another.
Homosexuality is not openly mentioned in Buddhism, but it is explored and evaluated the same way as heterosexuality. In the lay Buddhism, sexual act was an expression of love, loyalty, respect and warmth regardless of ones gender or sex. In this context, if one indulges in any unskilled sexual act regardless gender or sex, this is an offense. Therefore, any principles and ethical rules that are used to evaluate heterosexual relationships will also be used to evaluate a homosexual affiliation also.
In some instances, Buddhism advices against certain sexual behaviors as it is wrong on the ethical point of view as they put the involved individuals at the odds with social norms or mores or lead to legal actions. Hence, refraining from such behaviors will provide freedom from anxiety and embarrassment caused by the consequences of such actions. In a sense, the homosexual has to decide whether he or she is going to agree to what the community expects or try to change the attitude and opinion of the public on their actions.
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Buddhist Views on Euthanasia
Euthanasia can be characterized as voluntary euthanasia and is legal in U.S and Canada, non-voluntary and is illegal in all nations or as involuntary euthanasia and it is considered murder. Religion provides various views many issues affecting people globally. Buddhism for example offers different views on euthanasia. The debate about euthanasia with the Buddhist circles is tentative and there is an apparent reticence on the issue.
Japan Buddhist view death as not the end of life, but a transition in another state, mostly thought to be 49 days, intermediate between life in this body and life in the next. Many Buddhist are reluctant to dismiss a body as “dead” before its loss of warmth and reflexes are not based on a few of personal extinction, but as a Buddhist view of the common components of the life process.
Buddhist value the peace of mind and honor of life over the length of life. On the other hand, a samurai will often commit suicide on battlefield or court to preserve their dignity in death. Other commoners choose to community suicide in order to obtain a better life in the Pure Land [Heaven]. Many of the samurai suicides were morally comparable to euthanasia. Today, many prefer mercy killing in order to avoid an inevitable death at the hands of others like diseases or to escape a long period of pain without being a fruitful.
Buddhists are not undivided in their view of euthanasia and the writings or teachings of the Buddha do not solve this issue clearly. Most Buddhists are against the involuntary euthanasia, but their position on voluntary euthanasia is less clear. Here a few Buddhist view on euthanasia;
- Different states of minds- The most common opinion is that voluntary is wrong. This is interpreted by the fact that one’s mind is in a bad or compromised state and that one has allowed physical suffering to root for mental suffering. Meditation and proper use of pain killing drugs should aid avoid mental pain and no longer think of euthanasia. Buddhists also argue that helping someone end his or her is likely to put you in a bad mental state and this can also be shunned.
- Avoiding harm- Buddhism places stress on no-harm radar and avoid contemplating ending life. Buddhist teachings are against voluntary euthanasia and there are certain codes of Buddhist monastic laws that forbid it.
- Euthanasia is suicidal- looking at voluntary euthanasia as a form of suicide also makes this issue more complicating. Buddha showed tolerance of suicide in two monk cases. Due to the fact that these were monks, this makes the difference as the way life ends had a reflective effect on the way of the new life will commence. So a person’s state of mind at the time of death is essential. Hence, euthanasia and suicide is for people who have gained certain enlightenment and the rest of people should elude it.
From a Buddhist perspective, it is sometimes painful to watch those we love die in silence for adamant pain and suffering. Each person as created his or her destiny by his or her past karma or actions. Compassion is an important value of Buddhism teaching and a Buddhist can use it as a justification for euthanasia because the person in anguish is alleviated of pain. However, it is wicked to embark on the any course action aimed to destroy human life irrespective of the individual’s reasons for such decisions.
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Sikhism Perspective of Life after Death
Sikhism perspective of life after death holds that people should live their lives without worrying about afterlife. Instead, they should focus on their ethical actions as well as piety in the current life. Mukti or liberation is a metaphor for best results that are achievable in afterlife. Sikhs envision this as the finding of unification with creator in his court.
Being ethical or doing well in a cycle of death and birth or going and coming or even reincarnation has led to human life that has to use this opportunity in reaching divine court. This implies that Sikh beliefs combine the idea of reincarnation that brings life to human with that of afterlife or paradise-like divine court of the creator. As such, since death offers this opportunity, individuals should not fear death.
Conception of Guru Nanak was that regardless of religious allegiances, worldly actions will be accounted for through a divine process that is beyond the understanding of humans. If an individual has lived a good life whether non-Sikh or Sikh has nothing to worry about or fear. The exact location or picture of divine court is just a moot point in the thought of a Sikh, for pious and ethical living, itself is an end. Worldly court of Guru was compared to Court of Kartar by the writers of the time of Guru. Individuals who sought protection of Guru selflessly got shelter in the current world and life after.
Liberation cannot be achieved by renouncing early pleasures of the world. It can only be achieved by simply seeking Kartar by living a societal and productive life. This implies that family life is important feature in achieving liberation because it is a commitment to social and ethical living. The soul will be liberated by divine grace. This comes with performance of meritorious actions and ethical living which prepares an individual to welcome or receive this grace. This grace is the ultimate and it is bestowed by creator only.
A Sikh servant that lived in the early 1600s, Bhai Gurdas notes that there are actions that are particularly meritorious in the spiritual path. Meritorious implies literally faithful or saphal. While patronage systems in some religious traditions equate merit with the donations for the religious establishment, Bhai Gurdas notes that teaching another person or Sikh how they should read the scripture is meritorious just like funding golden temples, since holy congregations offer regular opportunities for Sikhs to listen to and apply the scripture, pilgrimages are not considered necessary.
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Sikhism Beliefs about God
Sikhism beliefs about God hold that there is an existence of an uncompromisingly monotheistic God as symbolized by the Ik Onkar. This God is the one Creator and central tenet of the Sikh philosophy. Nevertheless, Sikhs believe that this Creator is an all pervasive being and the sole truth and that he is the only truth. All creation is an illusory and realization that the entire creation is just one is the route that leads to enlightenment.
Guru Granth Sahib stated that “Toohe Moohe, moohe toohe, antar kaisa?” this translates to mean, “You are in me, I am in you, what is the difference?” This idea is similar to that of Buddhists that all individuals are enlightened and that humans just need to realize this fact. It is perceivable and knowable to any individual that is ready to dedicate their energy and time to becoming perceptive of their own persona.
The Creator or God has been described by the gurus in different ways in hymns that are included in Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy Sikhism scripture. The oneness of deity is highly and consistently emphasized in the entire scripture. Mool Mantar provides a description of the Creator. First passage of Guru Granth Sahib which is the basic formula of Sikhism faith provides this description.
It describes God as One Creator whose name is the Truth and He only is the Creator, Beyond Hatred, Beyond Fear, Beyond Time and Death, Self-Illuminated, Unborn, the Grace of Guru. According to Guru Arjan, the Creator is past or beyond any form or color. However, he can be seen as an elephant that has eight arms. The Lord transcends the entire world and the scriptures of west and east yet he is manifest clearly. Ultimate reality knowledge is not the main issue. It occurs by revelation of ultimate reality via grade or nadir and by mystical experience or anubhava.
Guru Nanak observes that the Creator is not accessible via intellect or via mere scholarship or even cleverness in arguments. The Creator is met at time and chances that he pleases via devotion. Guru Granth refers to Creator as the Father or He. However, this is because Granth was written in the North Indian using Indo-Aryan languages which are a mixture of the Hindi dialects and Punjabi that do not have neutral gender. Because Granth refers to God as being indescribable, then God does not have a gender according to the beliefs of Sikhism about God.
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Judaism Perspective of Life after Death
Judaism perspective of life after death holds that death of the earthly life is does not mark an end to human existence. However, Judaism is considered ambiguous when it comes to the issue of life after death. The soul’s immortality, the resurrection and world to come are prominent features in Judaism. Ambiguity comes in when it comes to the logistics of how these things will happen and how they are all related.
Basically, Judaism is mainly focused on the life on earth at the moment instead of the afterlife. It does not provide much dogma concerning afterlife. Thus, it leaves great room for development of personal opinion regarding life after death. An Orthodox Jew can believe that soul of a righteous person will go to a place that is similar to the heaven believed by Christians. They can also believe that righteous people are reincarnated via many lifetimes.
It is also possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the soul waits till when the messiah comes so that they can be resurrected. The same Jew can believe that demons torment souls of wicked persons or that these souls will simply be destroyed at death which will bring an end to their existence.
There are scholars who believe that life after death was a concept that was developed in the late history of Jews. Torah emphasizes concrete, immediate and physical punishments and rewards instead of abstract futures. However, there is evidence in Torah showing that life after death exists. There are several places where Torah indicates that there will be a reunion of the righteous with loved ones in the afterlife and the wicked will not be included in this reunion.
The righteous will enjoy life in Olam Ha Ba, which is a Hebrew term literally meaning the world to come. The righteous dead will be resurrected and rejoined with their loved ones and enjoy life in this world. The souls of the wicked persons will go to Gehenna where they will be punished for a limited time of twelve months after which they would be pure to move to the Gan Eden.
Gan Eden is a contrast of Gahenna. It is conceived as a place or paradise where individuals that led a righteous life went to. It is not clear whether Gan Eden is intended for the souls upon death or for the resurrected people when the Olam Ha Ba comes.
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Judaism Beliefs about God
Judaism beliefs about God teach about the existence of an ultimate reality, all-powerful, single God. This belief is the one that made Jews unique among the other people of the ancient times. This belief was also the legacy of Judaism passed across the whole western world. YHWH is the sacred name of this God that was revealed in Exodus to Moses. The original pronunciation of this word is not known since the ancient Hebrew did not have vowels.
According to Judaism, God is monotheistic. He is absolute, incomparable and individual being that is considered as the ultimate cause of the entire existence. The tradition of the Jews teaches that true aspect of this God is unknowable and incomprehensible. It is only the revealed aspect of God that brought about the existence of the universe and interaction with the world and mankind.
The only God of Israel is considered as the God of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. He is the guide of the universe or the world who delivered the Israelites from Egypt where they were living in slavery and he gave them 213 Mutzvot at the Mount Sinai that are described in Torah. The proper name of the God of Israel is written as YHWH. This name presents a combination of the past, present and future tense of a verb “howa”.
Howa means “to be” and when translated it literally means “self-existence One”. Moses was given further explanation of this name when YHWH gave him a statement that Eheye Asher Eheye. This means “I will be that I will be”, implying that the name is related to God as the true God he is. It is the revealed essence of God that transcends the entire universe. It is a representation of the compassion of God towards the universe or the world.
God is also called Elohim in the tradition of Jews. This relates to interaction of the universe and God. God as he manifests himself in physical world. It is a designation of justice of the God of Israel and it means, “One who is the totality of powers, forces and causes in the universe”.
In Judaism, God’s nature is an area of abstract belief. The existence of God is a fact that is accepted virtually without a question. There is no need for proof and it is rarely offered. Torah starts by saying that “In the beginning, God created”. There is no explanation for God and His origin.
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Islamic Perspective of Life after Death
Islamic perspective of life after death holds that human existence does not end at death. Instead, humans continue to exist in form of resurrected physical and spiritual beings after human body dies. Everybody is scared of death and uncertainty of the life or what happens after death is frightening. As such, Islam perspective of life after death tries to explain what happens after one dies. According to Islam, death is a natural threshold of the next level of existence.
Islam holds that there exists a relationship between the conduct of an individual on earth and life beyond death. In the afterlife, some people will be punished while others will be rewarded in commensuration with their earthly conduct. According to Islamic teachings, a day shall come for God to resurrect and then gather the last and the first of the creation after which everyone will be judged justly.
During judgment, people will have to enter the final abode, Paradise or Hell. Islam perspective of life after death and faith are what urges people to avoid sin. In earthly life, it is normal for impious to enjoy and pious to suffer in some cases. However, Islam religion teaches that all will be judged on the Day of Judgment and that is when justice shall be served.
Faith in the life after death is among the fundamental beliefs of Muslims that one is expected to complete their faith. Rejecting life after death renders the other fundamental beliefs meaningless. Muslims explain this belief or concept of life after death and earthly conduct with example of a child that does not put their hand in a fire. This is because they know that by doing this they will burn. When the same child is required to do homework, they might feel lazy because they are not quite sure what good education can do for them in the future.
This is the same of a man who does not have faith in the Day of Judgment. To such a person, obeying or disobeying God does not have any consequence. It is difficult for such a man to lead a God-conscious life. This is because his faith in life after or even in God does not have any incentive. Thus, such a man lives in a world that is full of earthly indulgence. Islam perspective of life after death is a greater factor that determines the course of the life of a Muslim.
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Islamic Beliefs about God
Islamic beliefs about God are based on the existence of one, incomparable, unique God who does not have a partner or son and the only right God who should be worshiped. Muslims believe that their God called Allah is the only true God and all other deities are false. The name of the God that Muslims believe in is the most powerful and magnificent and it sublime the perfect attributes. No one shares the divinity of Allah or His attributes.
There are six main beliefs of the Islam faith. These are:
- Belief that Allah is the only God who should be worshipped
- Belief in the angels
- Belief in Muslim holy books
- Belief in prophets such as Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Dawud, Isa and Muhammad as the last prophet
- Belief that there is a Day of Judgment
- Belief in the predestination
Muslims believe that Allah is an all-powerful God and the creator of the perfectly ordered universe. He is not part of the universe that he created but he is transcendent. Allah is always referred to using names and terms that emphasize His greatness, majesty and superiority. There are 99 beautiful names that are used in reference to God including the Fashioner, the Creator, the Provider, the Bestower, the Opener, the Life-giver, the Recorder, the Reckoner and the Prevailer.
Despite revealing his will via the prophets, the actual nature of God is still unknowable. The will of God is all that Muslims have and they have this will in perfection and described in Qur’an. However, Islam does not consider Qur’an as being equal to the essence or nature of God. Qur’an is the word, commandment and will of Allah or God. God has never revealed himself to humans. There are adjectival descriptions of God only that are attributed to divine being and they only bear God’s revelation for man.
Despite being transcendence and unknowable, Qur’an does not offer teachings that Allah remains aloof at some places in heaven or that he does not know his children or Muslims. Allah is everywhere and close to a man like a man is to veins in the neck. However, one thing that is made clear by the teachings of Islam is that Allah is indivisible and unique. Strict monotheism of God is repeatedly emphasized in the Qur’an which rejects the polytheism of God taught by Christianity in the trinity concept.
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Hinduism Perspective of Life after Death
Hinduism perspective of life after death holds that death comprises of series of change via which individuals pass. Hinduism believes in reincarnation and rebirth of souls. Souls are imperishable and immortal. This is because a soul forms part of Jiva, who is a limited being that is not subject to impurities of delusion, attachment and Karma laws.
According to Hinduism, death is not a big calamity. It is not the end to all but rather, a natural process in existence of Jiva or being as an independent or separate entity. Death is a period of rest when the soul reassembles and recuperates its resources while adjusting its course before returning to earth again where it continues the journey.
Hinduism perspective of life after death is that, unless liberation of a soul occurs, life or after life is not permanent. Both are part of a big illusion. To Hindus, death is just temporary cessation of the physical activity. It is a necessary way of recycling energy and resources as well as an opportunity for jiva, the part that incarnates to reenergize while reviewing its policies and programs as well as planning for the following phase in life.
Each experience in earthly life is an opportunity for jiva to learn as well as overcome blemishes and inconsistencies to make it whole. It is not possible for individuals to have preferences, likes, dislikes, attachment, and prejudices and expect to be liberated. Hinduism considers even a preference for being pure as an impediment in life at some point. As such, the soul has to be born and reborn to overcome the delusion state and to achieve equanimity state and then realize its completeness.
Upon death, the soul of an individual along with aspects of residual consciousness leave the earthly body via an opening on the head after which it goes to a different world from where it returns after spending time there. Everything that happens when the soul leaves the earthly body and before reincarnation remains a great mystery of which one can get idea of after studying scriptures.
There is a description of the paths that the soul travels upon death in the Bhagavad-Gita. One of the paths is the sun which is also called the path of gods or bright path. The other path is path of the moon which is also called path of the ancestors or the dark path. Souls that travel along the path of sun never return while those that travel along the path of the moon return.
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Hinduism Beliefs about God
Hinduism beliefs about God holds that there is existence of one true god called Brahman. However, Brahman exists in different forms. According to the teachings of Hinduism, there is the existence of a single true god who is the supreme spirit. His many forms pervade the entire universe. A sacred syllable Aum or Om symbolizes him.
According to Hindus, Brahman is always present in all human beings as an eternal spirit or the soul known as the atman. Brahman has everything, destruction, creation, female and male, evil and good, stillness and movement. Brahman has three major aspects that are expressed in trimurti. These are:
Hinduism teaches that liberation is the best solution to a problem and not death. Salvation can only be attained through discipline, self-surrender, austerities and devotion as well as the grace of God and guru. Hinduism embraces diverse beliefs about God. This is a fact that initially can be confusing to people who are accustomed to confessions, carefully-worded beliefs and creeds.
A person can believe different things concerning God as well as the universe and path that lead to liberation yet still remain a Hindu. This explains the origin of the saying that is common among the Hindus that, “Truth is one; sages call it by different names”. There are also beliefs about God and the universe that are common to almost all types of Hinduism that are easy to identify.
The basic beliefs of Hinduism are considered as the boundaries outside which there are non-Hinduism religion and heresy. The fundamental beliefs in Hinduism include the Vedas authority and the Brahmans authority. Vedas refers to the oldest sacred text among the Indians. Brahmans are the priests.
Another fundamental belief in Hindu is the existence of a soul that is enduring and one that transmigrates from a single body to a different one at death through reincarnation. Hindus also believe in the laws of Karma. Karma is the law that determines the destiny of an individual both in the current life and in the next life.
It is important to note that specific beliefs about gods or God are not usually considered as an essential in Hinduism. This makes Hinduism different from monotheistic religions such as Islam and Christianity. Most Hindus follow one of the major gods devotedly. These are Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti.
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Christianity View on Good and Evil
Christianity view on good and evil is that all goodness comes from the inherent character of God and evil is declining or refusing to submit to the authority of God, to love and to serve Him. The question of evil and good has been wrestled on for many years without a universally acceptable or satisfactory conclusion being reached.
The problem is that the existence of evil is sticker and it causes a heated debate among the Christian scholars, philosophers and theologians. However, Christian beliefs offer a definition that acts as a source that determines what is evil and what is good. The beliefs also provide a description for human nature while providing tools for Christians to use in combating evil using good.
When it comes to defining what is good, there are several verses of the Bible that affirm the belief of Christians that God is always good and that His love is forever enduring. According to Christianity, there is existence of a benevolent God who made all things and the universe. The plan of God at creation is based on His divine goodness. Thus, Christianity view of good is that all that is good comes from God and everything that God does is good since he cannot go against His own inherent nature.
In Christianity, evil has been divided into the categories of human action or moral evil that causes suffering and pain for the others. This includes war, genocide, cruelty, abuse and exploitation. There is also the natural evil that includes diseases, natural disasters, and birth defects among others.
According to most Christians, moral evil originates from rebellion against the will of God. This causes injustice, pride vanity, aggression, greed, violence and dishonesty among others. The belief in the original sin of Adam and Eve provides a widespread explanation of how death and suffering came into the universe via their disobedience of the will of God.
Christian tradition has a belief that human beings are born in a sinfulness state, already contaminated and with far-reaching and long-lasting consequences of original sin committed by Adam and Eve. This sin separated man from God and a savior had to come to bridge the gap between God and man whole providing a path to salvation.
There are theologians and scholars who have attempted to justify or explain existence of suffering and evil in the light of the goodness of God. Explanation of good and evil in Christianity often include the discussion on the significance of human choice and free will as well as corrective discipline meted by God and repentance.
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Christianity Beliefs about God
Christianity beliefs about God hold that God is an eternal being that preserves the world that it created. According to Christians, God is both immanent and transcendent. Immanent means that God is involved in the universe while transcendent implies that God is entirely removed from and independent of material universe.
The teachings of Christianity holds that God’s involvement and immanence as well as the love that he has for humanity does not include the believe of his having similar substance as the universe that he created. However, Christianity teachings accept the incarnation of God as a man.
Early views of Christianity were expressed in Pauline Epistles and early creeds. These proclaimed that God was one and Jesus’ divinity almost similar breath as it is stated in 1st Corinthians 8:5-6. Christianity holds that, despite the existence of several gods whether they are on earth or in heaven, Christians believe that they have only one God whom they call their father from whom they get all things and they live for him.
Jesus Christ who was incarnated as man is considered to be the son of God and all things come through him and Christians live through him and he is their Lord. Judaea-Christian sect of Ebionites at first protested against the apotheosis of Jesus Christ. However, it was accepted by the Gentile Christians. This started the difference between the beliefs of Gentile Christian about God from the traditional Jewish beliefs and teachings about God.
Since the beginning of Christianity, theology that concerns nature and attributes of God has always been a topic for discussion. This can be seen in the 2nd century writings of Irenaeus. These writings note that the greatness of God does not lack anything and it contains everything. John of Damascus in 8th century listed the eighteen attributes that have been accepted widely.
Theologians have listed attributes of God as time goes by some of which are based on the Bible’s statements including the Lord’s Prayer that states that the Christians’ father is at Heaven. There are also attributes that are based on the theological reasoning of theologians.
Although the Kingdom of God has always been a prominent phrase in Synoptic Gospels and an almost unanimous agreement because it represents an important element in Jesus’ teachings, its exact interpretation has not had scholarly agreement. Despite the fact that the New Testament does not provide a formal trinity doctrine, it speak about God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son in a way that compels the Trinitarian understanding and Christianity belief about God.
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Zero Hours Contract
Zero hour contract which is also known as zero contract hours is a casual working contract that does not guarantee workers any work and only pays for the work carried out. With this type of contract, the worker is expected to avail themselves for work if and when they are called upon by the employer.
This type of employment contract is used in the UK and contains provisions that create an ‘on-call’ arrangement between the employee and employer. Employers in this case assert they don’t have any obligation to provide work for employees while the employees agree to be available when and as required. Consequently, this means there is no particular times of work or hours specified. The employee should be on call and they will receive compensation for the hours they work only.
Zero hours contract can be beneficial especially for students and retirees interested in getting occasional earnings and are entirely flexible about when they can work. However, this is not applicable to people in the general working environment/population and this includes those with the responsibilities of supporting families as well as those with mortgages as they run the risk of unpredictable earnings and working hours.
This type of contract is often used by management as a tool to either reprimand or reward employees. Across the globe, part-time workers and itinerant day laborers are employed under zero hour contract terms. This is applicable in many countries though the term ‘zero hour contract’ is British English for employees on call with no set minimum hours and no definite schedule and who work on contracts and still, manage to meet the requirements of Employment Rights Act 1996 a statute of the UK.
Under the National Minimum Wage Act of 1998 in the UK, workers operating under contract on stand-by call time must be paid national minimum wages for the hours they work. Prior to the 1998 Working Time Regulations and the 1999 National Minimum Wage Regulations, flexibility provided by zero hour contracts is often known as ‘clock-off’ workers during the quiet periods while retaining them onsite in order to return them to paid work as and when the need arises.
The National Minimum Wage Regulations now require employers to pay national minimum wages for the workers needed at the workplace though there is no work to be carried out. Zero hours contract has received numerous criticisms for subjecting workers to exploitation as they can be denied work at any given time and for any reason.
For instance, refusal to work when called upon can result to prolonged periods of no work. Also, due to the uncertainty of these contracts, it becomes difficult for workers with children to arrange for childcare.
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Welfare capitalism is a private employer based social welfare provisions system that gained momentum in the US first from 1880s through to the 1920s. Business leaders promoted welfare capitalism at a time that was marked by widespread economic insecurity, labor unrest and reform activism.
It owed its basis on the idea Americans shouldn’t look to labor unions or the government but rather the workplace benefits that are provided by employers in the private sector for protection against market economy fluctuations. This type of capitalism includes social welfare policies that are comprehensive. It is also the practice of companies/businesses to provide welfare services to employees.
In modern age, welfare capitalism is mostly associated with models of capitalism that are found in Northern and Continental Europe like the Social Market model, Rhine capitalism and Nordic model. There are other instances when welfare capitalism exists within mixed economies but welfare can and does exist independent of policies that are common to mixed economies like extensive regulation and state interventionism.
During the 17th century, some companies (mostly manufacturers) started offering new benefits to employees. This started in Britain during the early 19th century and in other European countries like Germany and France. The companies sponsored established social clubs, sports team and provided cultural and educational activities for workers. There are some that even offered housing as part of the package as well.
Among the first attempts of offering philanthropic welfare to workers was at the New Lanark mills in Scotland by Robert Owen, the social reformer. He became part owner and manager of the mills in 1810 and was encouraged but his success in management of the cotton mills in Manchester and hoped to conduct New Lanark on high principals and not focus so much on commercial profit.
The broad condition of workers was unsatisfactory as most of them were steeped in drunkenness and theft. There were other vices which were also common. Sanitation and education was mostly neglected while families lived crammed in one room. The country people who were respectable also refused to be part of the demoralizing and long hours of the mills.
Majority of the employers operated through the track system where they made payments to workers in part or by tokens which were of no use outside the ‘truck shop’. Owen opened his own store where people were able to buy quality goods and soon the principles he upheld spread through other cooperative stored throughout Britain. By 1910s and the 1920s, welfare capitalism was an organized movement with diversifying base for social, business, political and scientific support.
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Universal credit is a welfare benefit program started in the UK in 2013 to replace the 6 means tested benefits and credit cards. The national launch was set for October 2013 for new claimants (excluding those with complex cases like families with children) though a pilot in 4 local authorities preceded this.
The transition was set to be gradual and to be completed by 2017. While this was the case, only one of the original pilots went ahead as scheduled due to persistent delays in implementation and IT failures. The other three pilots took off later that summer and were met by numerous criticisms.
Ian Duncan Smith, the secretary of Work and Pensions is the one that proposed the Universal Credit in 2010 at the Conservative Party annual conference. The aim was to ensure that it is implemented in the span of 4 years and two parliaments with the intention of merging the already existing 6 means tested tax credits and benefits into one monthly payment and to reduce costs as well. The six benefits include the following:
- Income based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income related Support
- Employment Allowance
- Income support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.
Unlike existing benefits like Income Support that have a 100 percent withdrawal rate, the Universal Credit will be tapered away gradually as is the case with existing Housing Benefit and tax credits so that in theory, people are able to still take part time jobs and at the same time, be allowed to retain some of the money they receive.
Universal credit payment would also be paid in a different manner from the current benefits. Some of these include the following:
- The money will be paid directly into the account you choose
- If one gets assistance with rent, the same will be included in their monthly payment so they can pay the landlord
- In cases where both partners are eligible for Universal Credit, they will get one payment set for the household.
There are 4 conditionality’s for claimants depending on circumstances ranging from whether they are required to search for full time employment to their inability to find work at all (this includes people in the unconditional group such as carers and the severely disabled)
Universal Credit payment will be done once every month directly into a building society’s or bank account. Any assistance with rent will also be included in the payment so that claimants can pay their landlords directly.
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