One of the earliest piece of social welfare legislations in the country- the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, earlier known as Workmen Compensation Act is on the statute book for the last more than eighty years that supports employee and its dependents in case of mis-happening with employee during course of employment where employer is liable to compensate in case of death or major/ minor injuries to an employee and his dependents. Besides, the Act has a provision of paying compensation to the workmen for some occupational diseases contracted by them during the course of their employment.
The basic purpose of latest amendments which came in to force from 2009 is to insert the term "employee" of rather very wide connotation. It is thus applicable to all classes of employees and to make the expression gender-neutral and applies to workers employed in any capacity specified in Schedule II of the Act which includes Factories, Mines, Plantations, Mechanically Propelled Vehicles, Construction Work and certain other hazardous occupations and specified categories of Railway Servants. There is no wage limit for coverage of workers under the Act. It does not, however, apply to persons serving in Armed Forces and workers covered by the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.The Act do not distinguish between types of employees- contractual, permanent, casual, daily wages and even employee working abroad- all types of employees comes under purview of this Act. In case of contractual employee both contractor and principal employer are liable to pay compensation to employee in case of mishap defined in the Act.
Probably, this is the only social welfare legislation which provides relief to lakhs of workers engaged in organized and unorganised sector irrespective of their salary, designation and status. The purpose gets defeated when mechanism/ system provided for giving relief to dependents gets stuck/ delayed in legal technicalities and dependent too leave this material world in hope to get the financial support. Such delay in claims of this nature should not happen. Authorities should develop a mechanism where such cases are put on fast track and poor people get relief at the earliest. No big loss can ever happen to family than when their bread earner dies and leave them torn off socially, emotionally and financially. It should be a matter to feel by inner conscience and not by stony heartless legal arguments to avoid and defeat the claim.
On our readers consistent demand, this issue cover story is on this law which is an attempt to unfold the legalities, technicalities and present the important aspects in a comprehensive manner and easy to understand style by experts and research team of BM. After going through the pages, I am confident, you will certainly feel that you know all about employee’s compensation law of the country.