pracinno Started The Discussion:
Could anyone please tell me the legal difference worker,workman and employee in india?
Posted 23rd November 2006 From India, Mumbai


An "employee" can be either-a "worker" or a "workman"!
A "worker" may be a "workman" or an "employee"!!
A "workman" may be an "employee" or a "worker"!!!

But, fun apart, these terms have relevance and significance only in terms of the specific meaning attached to each of them by way of a "definition" for a particular law.

For example, "employee" is a general reference to anyone employed as provided in different act and outside of the act has no particular significance beyond that. "worker" is defined under the Factories Act and includes virtually everyone who enters the factory premises. "Workman" is defined undser the Industrial Disputes Act and specific import for labour legislation.

So depending upon the issue on hand, one will have to look in to the concerned to learn about the rights and obligations of the subject individual.

If you have a focussed querry kindly raise the same for a better treatment.

November 24, 2006
Posted 24th November 2006 From India, Pune
Thank u samvedan!Yes,i need the answer in a particular reference.
1) which are the sets of laws that define worker,workman and employee or use them for their respective meanings
2)Why are there 3 different terms used by these acts.what is the logic behind the same?

For instance,as u rightly said:worker is a broad term and will include even an officer in its scope(and a seperate exemption has to be sought under section 64 of Factories Act).Where as in ID Act it refers only to a ceratin class of people demarcated based on their salary,and employee on the other hand is referred to in PF Act.

So,why is it that these acts have diff definitions when they more or less refer to the same set of people!!
Please do give ur inputs on the same.
Posted 24th November 2006 From India, Mumbai

A comprehensive answer to your question is going to be a very complicated answer. Suffice it here to say that:

1) Each law passed by the parliament has a specific and defined "aims and objectives" that indicates the purpose of enacting the same legislation.

2) Broadly speaking, while Industrial Disputes Act is a disputes processing/settlement legislation, the Factories Act is a normative establishment legislation that provides for standards for safety, health, and similar related matters affecting working conditions for people employed in factories. Therefore, it is not, as though, if you are in the mangerial cadre, you have less hazards to you safety. So all those employed at the Factory (barring small exceptions as rightly pointed out by you) are given the same consideration in matters provided under the Factories Act. Here the question is NOT the status, salary or designation.

3) But in matters of processing disputes, the law makers have presumed (I wonder if rightly) that people of higher status or higher salary either have no disputes or are capable of resolving their disputes themselves. It for this reason the term "workman" is chosen and defined to indicate that class of employees who have more rights and protection than others as far as this act is considered.

4) It is a safe approach that while dealing with any matter, one checks up the provisions and the definitions before taking any positions.

5) It is possible but at least I have NOT found it necessary to list out various acts defining the terms like, "employee", "worker" and "workman". To that extent I am unable to help straight away on this issue.

November 24, 2006
Posted 24th November 2006 From India, Pune
Thanks a ton Samvedan...U r really turning out to b my Godfather in ER and legal related queries:)
For now,ur answer makes sense,but will get back to u as and wen i have more doubts.Thank u once again
Pali Tripathi
Posted 27th November 2006 From India, Mumbai

There is no difference. As a general while colour are called employee and blue collar are called workman. But if you talk about legal concept, there are different definition of workman/worker and employee under the various Labour Acts; like ID Act , ESI Act, Payment of Bonus Act, PF Act, Payment of Gratuity Act, Payment of Wages Act and Payment of minimum wages act etc...

ak malhotra
Posted 5th October 2008 From India, Guwahati
I want to comment over this submission given by Mr.SomVedan, Senior Member,

But in matters of processing disputes, the law makers have presumed (I wonder if rightly) that people of higher status or higher salary either have no disputes or are capable of resolving their disputes themselves. It for this reason the term "workman" is chosen and defined to indicate that class of employees who have more rights and protection than others as far as this act is considered

My comments.

The ID Act definition of workman has been evolved by the legislators in the right spirit.
The Management of a company means not just the Directors, it includes all the Managerial people above the Supervisory cadre.

If these Managers and Supervisors are given the same status of workmen, everyone will have the hightly protective legal shield. And there won't any body to take care of the Management of the company, except the directors.

Hence in the right spirit it has been enacted. It is very well agreed that the Managers and the Supervisors do have issues and disputes. If there is some unresolved disputes and their rights are infringed, they can very well approach the Civil court through Rule 9 of the CPC.

Posted 28th August 2009 From India, Coimbatore
Legaly there is no difference between workmen and woker, it may be a simple terminolgy of the management, but if legaly seen it is just like a question " Who was born/created first Hen or Egg ?"
Posted 7th April 2010 From India, New Delhi
sir, I have some doubts. 1. Who all are comes under "Worker / Workman" as per Factories Act,1948. 2. Is HR Manager, Finance Manager comes under "Worker / Workman" category. Thanks T.S.Krishna Prasath
Posted 29th August 2012 From Australia, Revesby
Dear Seniors, Sorry I am not able to understand the three terminology in worker, employee and workmen. You are requested to please refer as per Factory Act. 1948. with Oblige, Tarsem Singh
Posted 18th September 2013 From India, New Delhi
An interesting question followed by an enchanting debate! If I remember correct, once Mark Twain observed " the difference between an "exactly right word' and "the right word' is very vast like the difference between 'lightening' and 'the lightening bug". This is convincingly true because etimological interpretations change not only based on linguistics but also on anthropology. Of course, Pali Tripathy's initial query revolves around the practical difference between the terms 'workman' and 'employee' in the legal context and the brilliant answers given by people like Samvedan and Nalluchamy bring out the contextual and purposive differences in the different legislations employing either the word 'employee' or 'workman'. The recent renaming of the erstwhile " Workmen's Compensation Act,1923" as " The employees' Compensation Act,1923" is in tune with the reasons cited by the above two gentlemen by not only replacing the word 'workman' wherever it occured but also expanding its connotation by the deletions therein through the amending Act. However, the still-persistent confusion in the minds of friends like Krishna Prasath p and Tarsem Singh holds the quote of Mark Twain good, I think. So, let me try to explain the difference between the two terms that can be used interchangeably in a general context and the reasons for it from the angle of human relations. In the early stages of social living hard work was shared by all according to every one's physical strength. Eventually the stronger emerged as the leader of the group. The invention of agriculture paved way for the formation of feudalism from nomadism. This resulted in enslavement of the landless labour by the landed gentry. Thus came into existence a system of external or social human relationship called Master and Slave/Serf. Its negative impact caused its modification of the relationship to that of Master/Owner and Servant. The Industrial Revolution triggered by the advancement in Science and technology metamorphosed into large-scale manufacturing/ production which eventually culminated in the formation of giant industrial corporations or joint-stock companies to augment huge financial investments. The simultaneous problems associated with such growth like effective utilisation of the factors of production and large-scale employment of people under a single roof opened the gates for a new system called management. The harnessing of complicated multitudinal tasks rendered the system of management all the more complex which eventually resuted in the separation of ownership from management. Therefore, the owner need not be the master now. Since their relationship is strictly confined to the terms of employment or the contract of service, the master has become the employer and the servant has become the person employed or employee. In a way all the persons employed for hire or reward are employees. Therefore, 'employee' is a generic term indicative of the factum of being employed for hire. However, certain distinguishable authority-oriented features like the enabling powers of representation,hire and fire, supervision,control over the lower rungs of hierarchy call for distinction among the employees. Hence the species of Managers, Supervisors and Workmen or Workers. Thus, in the pyramidal structure of employment Managers occupy the highest position, the supervisors the middle and the workmen are at the bottom. Since the objective of a Welfare State is social justice to all its citizens and particularly those at the bottom are more, their problems have to be addressed and redressed through appropriate labour legislations. Hence the employment of different terms such as workman/worker, employee, person employed etc., depending upon the species to be protected by the respective employment legislations.
Posted 28th September 2015 From India, Salem


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