In 1923, the Government of India passed the Workmen’s Compensation Act. This Act, marked the beginning of social security in India. The main object of this Act is to impose upon the employers an obligation to pay compensation to workers for accidents arising out of and in the course of employment. It also helps to reduce the number of accidents, to give workers greater freedom from anxiety and to make industry more attractive to workers.
The Act has been amended several times. The last amendment was made in 1962. The Act applies to all permanent employees employed in railways, factories, mines, plantations, mechanically propelled vehicles, construction work and certain other hazardous operations. It does not apply to members of armed forces, casual workers and workers covered under the Employee’s State Insurance Act, 1948.
The State Governments administer this Act and are empowered to extend the application of this Act to other classes of persons or diseases not covered by the Act. The State Governments have appointed labour compensation commissioners for the settlement of disputed cases.
Under this Act, the employer is liable to pay, the compensation in case of personal injury caused by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. No compensation is, however, payable if the incapacity does not last for more than 3 days or if it is caused by the default of the worker, not resulting in death. Besides, body injuries, compensation is also payable in the case of certain occupational diseases as given in schedule III.
The amount of compensation payable depends upon the nature of injury and the average monthly wages of the workers concerned. For this purpose injury has been divided under three categories
- Causing death
- total partial permanent disablement
- temporary disablement.
The rates of compensation have been given in Schedule IV of the Act. In order to protect the interest of dependents in case of fatal accidents, it is provided in the Act that all cases of fatal accidents are to be brought into the notice of commissioner of labour. In case of admission of liabilities by the employer, the amount of compensation to be deposited with the commissioner. If the employer denies his liability, the commissioner must decide whether or not there is a ground for claim. The commissioner may inform the dependents and it is open to them to prefer a claim, if they feel so.m