The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 provides for payment of compensation to workmen and their dependants in case of injury and accident (including certain occupational disease) arising out of and in the course of employment and resulting in disablement or death. The Act applies to railway servants and persons employed in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II of the Act. The schedule II includes persons employed in factories, mines, plantations, mechanically propelled vehicles, construction works and certain other hazardous occupations.
The amount of compensation to be paid depends on the nature of the injury and the average monthly wages and age of workmen.The minimum and maximum rates of compensation payable for death (in such cases it is paid to the dependents of workmen) and for disability have been fixed and is subject to revision from time to time.
A Social Security Division has been set up under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which deals with framing of social security policy for the workers and implementation of the various social security schemes. It is also responsible for enforcing this Act. The Act is administered by the State Governments through Commissioners for Workmen’s Compensation.
The main provisions of the Act are:-
- An employer is liable to pay compensation:- (i) if personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment; (ii) if a workman employed in any employment contracts any disease, specified in the Act as an occupational disease peculiar to that employment.
- However, the employer is not liable to pay compensation in the following cases:-
- If the injury does not result in the total or partial disablement of the workman for a period exceeding three days.
- If the injury, not resulting in death or permanent total disablement, is caused by an accident which is directly attributable to:- (i) the workman having been at the time of the accident under the influence of drink or drugs; or (ii) the willful disobedience of the workman to an order expressly given, or to a rule expressly framed, for the purpose of securing the safety of workmen; or (iii) the willful removal or disregard by the workman of any safety guard or other device which has been provided for the purpose of securing safety of workmen.
- The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint any person to be a Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation for such area as may be specified in the notification. Any Commissioner may, for the purpose of deciding any matter referred to him for decision under this Act, choose one or more persons possessing special knowledge of any matter relevant to the matter under inquiry to assist him in holding the inquiry.
- Compensation shall be paid as soon as it falls due. In cases where the employer does not accept the liability for compensation to the extent claimed, he shall be bound to make provisional payment based on the extent of liability which he accepts, and, such payment shall be deposited with the Commissioner or made to the workman, as the case may be.
- If any question arises in any proceedings under this Act as to the liability of any person to pay compensation (including any question as to whether a person injured is or is not a workman) or as to the amount or duration of compensation (including any question as to the nature or extent of disablement), the question shall, in default of agreement, be settled by a Commissioner. No Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under this Act required to be settled, decided or dealt with by a Commissioner or to enforce any liability incurred under this Act.
- The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that every person employing workmen, or that any specified class of such persons, shall send at such time and in such form and to such authority, as may be specified in the notification, a correct return specifying the number of injuries in respect of which compensation has been paid by the employer during the previous year and the amount of such compensation together with such other particulars as to the compensation as the State Government may direct.
- Whoever, fails to maintain a notice-book which he is required to maintain; or fails to send to the Commissioner a statement which he is required to send; or fails to send a report which he is required to send; or fails to make a return which he is required to make, shall be punishable with fine.
Workmen’s compensation Act has been amended in 2009 by Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Act, 2009 and further by an amendment in 2010, Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Act, 2009 is now renamed as Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Act, 2009 and wherever “workman” or “workmen” is mentioned in the entire Act the same needs to be read as “Employee”.