One day one of the workers died on duty. His family was demanding compensation. However, the company denied compensation because it was revealed in an investigation that he was drunk at the time of the accident. The workers of the company went on strike demanding compensation for the family of the deceased. The Chairman of the management board has asked for an HR recommendation. What will be the HR recommendation?
From India, Delhi
Labour Law & Hr Consultant
Partner - Risk Management
Management Consultancy


Section 3 (1) of the EC Act 1923 states that the employer shall not be liable for any accident not resulting in death or permanent total disablement where the injured employee at the time of the accident was under the influence of drinks or drugs, etc. So that means the liability of the employer is excluded where the accident does not result in the death of the employee if the injury took place when the employee was drunk or under the influence of drugs. In other words, when it is a case of death, whatever be the circumstance the employer's liability is absolute.
From India, Mumbai

the response should depend on the nature of the accident and how it was affected by the fact that he was drunk. The response from the legal point of view is clear as stated above. However, since this is now an industrial dispute and a matter of industrial relations, sometimes you have to go beyond the law.

You can call for conciliation based on Industrial Dispute Act, if applicable to you.

You have not provided the details (eg. what is the ground of the union, nature of industry, designation and duty of the worker, what was his pay). Without details, you will rarely get a worthwhile answer

From India, Mumbai

Let the legal heir(s) of deceased file a claim under Employees' Compensation Act 1923 and employer’s can contest the same on their stand S. K. Mittal 9319956443
From India, Faridabad

Dear Saswata Banerjee,

I beg to differ from your statement suggesting to raise an industrial dispute under the ID Act,1947 against the denial of compensation under the EC Act,1923 by the employer on the ground of the accident attributable to the drunkenness of the deceased employee at the time of accident.

The reasons could be:-
1) It cannot be an ID in as much as it relates to a claim for compensation for death arising out of an employment accident which is covered by a special legislation for the exclusive purpose.
2) To raise an ID under the IDA,1947, one must be a workman at present or in the past of the same employer. No dependent of the deceased workman can be deemed as a workman merely for the purpose of raising a dispute on question of compensation.
3) To stake a claim for compensation under the ECA, 1923, the deceased should have been an employee u/s 2(dd) of the Act r.w its schedule II.

When the Act clearly and categorically mentions the circumstances under which the employer shall not be liable to pay compensation, one cannot insert a reason not mentioned by the law into the provision for his own convenience.

Therefore, the HR of the company cannot make a recommendation to please the Chairman but should politely explain the scope of the legal provision and indicate the consequences of interest burden in case of outright denial on the basis of misinterpretation. Alternatively, the recommendation can be to deposit the amount of compensation forthwith with a note of objection and the employer's intention to contest the claim when filed.

From India, Salem

Umakhanta Sir,

I was referring to the fact that the workers have gone on strike.
That is an industrial dispute and the matter is of Industrial peace.
Unions are not going to necessarily just accept the law in such cases and the company will suffer till the strike is called off

From India, Mumbai

Thank you, Saswata, for highlighting the reaction of the workmen and their trade unions in such an unfortunate occurrence. My experience shows that when such employment accident happening in a manufacturing unit which is largely labor intensive results in death of the employee, not only unions, but also some political outfits enter the scene and create problems like road roko, refusal to accept the mortal remains of the victim, demanding immediate disbursement of huge sums of ex-gratia etc. Even the police authorities try to diffuse the situation by compelling the employer to shell out some compensation immediately. I think that the poster's organization might be lucky enough not to have faced such awkward situation following the accident.

When such accident involving death within the factory premises occurs, without loss of time, the occupier/manager of the factory is legally required to inform the Factories Inspector and he has to conduct an enquiry and he has to issue show cause notice to the employer which will normally end up in prosecution.

Thus it is a critical situation and requires very tactful situational management. The conciliation officer should also act very carefully to pacify the agitating workers by patiently explaining the legal remedy available to the deceased's family. The management should also come forward with compassion and magnanimity without sticking to the provisions of law by misinterpretation or interpretation without practical wisdom.

From India, Salem
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