EMPLOYER LIABILITY TO PAY COMPENSATION UNDER WORKMEN COMPENSATION ACT 1923
The Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923 was introduced in India in 1923 as first social security of workmen and to protect the interests of the workmen. This Act is based on the theory that:
“The cost of Product should bear the blood of the workmen.”
SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT 1923 ACT
The Workmen Compensation Act 1923 came into force on first day of July 1924. This Act extends to the whole of India including the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It covers the workmen employed in factories, mines, plantations, transport, construction works, railways, ships, circuses and other hazardous occupations and employments.
OBJECTS OF WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT 1923
The following are the objects of the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923:
- To lower down the number of accidents
- To mitigate the effects of the accidents by providing the suitable medical treatment.
- To provide the quicker and cheaper mechanism of grievance handling related to the compensation issues.
- To make the industry more attractive and comfortable to workmen for working.
CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH EMPLOYER IS LIABLE TO PAY COMPENSATION
Section of the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923 provides the employer’s liability to pay compensation to an employee. An employer is liable to pay compensation to an employee:
- For personal injury caused to him by accident.
- For any occupational disease contracted by him.
Conditions to be satisfied:
According to Section 3 (1) of the Act, the conditions must exist before an employer can be held liable to pay compensation to an employees:
- Some personal injury must have been caused to the employee.
- Such an injury must have been caused by an accident.
- The accident must have arisen out of and in the course of employment.
- The injury must have resulted either in the death of the employee or in his total or partial disablement.
It refers to harm or damage caused to the health of a workman by an accident, disease or otherwise. A personal injury does not include only physical or bodily injury, but also includes the psychological injury. It is not necessary that injury must be external in nature. Any harm or damage inside the body is also an injury.
If a workman is doing a job which requires a lot of effort or energy and receives injury to his heart by such working, he is entitled to compensation as it is a personal injury.
CASE: INDIAN NEWS CHRONICLE LTD. MRS. LAZARUS
A workman, in the course of his duties, had frequently to go into a heating room and from there into a cooling room. One night he went into the cooling room, he got pneumonia because of which he died. Held, the death was due to personal injury.
Accident means unintended or unforeseen happening which causes hurt or loss.
In other words, an event is deemed to be an accident, if it is unexpected or undersigned, although it may be due to negligence on the part of the concerned workman.
Accident includes the mishappenings like:
- Fall from roof
- Internal accidents like heart failure
- Sunstroke etc.
EXAMPLE: If in the course of performing his duties, the eyes of a workman are expressed to the glare of the furnace, and on every occasion they are stuck by ultra-violet rays and absorb the same. This leads to impairment of his vision in small degrees and ultimately leads to his blindness. Held that the series of small accidents together constitute an accident causing injury to the person or a workman.
There are mainly three cases:
Accident arising out of and in the course of employment: A workmen is given compensation for personal injury only if it arises out of and in the course of employment. The term ‘arising out of and in the course of the employment’ has not been defined by the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923. The accidents held to be out of and in course of employment are:
- Transit facility provided by the employer for going to and the place of the work.
- The time during which the workman is upon the employer, even though he may not be actually working at that time.
- The period of rest during the period of employment.
- If workman reaches the place of the employment before time to equip himself for the work.
Accident arising out of employment: ‘Arising out of employment’ means the work which the employee is employed to do. This expression means that the personal injury must have resulted from the nature of his employment i.e. from the duties he has to discharge.
- In order to prove than an accident ‘arise out of employment’ following conditions must be satisfied:
- The accident must have resulted from some risk incidental to the duties of the service.
- At the time of accident, the worker must have been engaged in the business of the employer and must not be doing something for his own benefit.
In the course of Employment: The expression ‘In the course of employment’ refers to the time period during which the employment continues. It is the time which a workman spends in carrying out his duties according to the terms of his contract of service. It also includes the duties attached to the employment.
In other words, it includes not only the period when he is doing the work actually allotted to him but also the time when he is at a place.
Any disease which is inherent to the nature of employment and the workers employed there earn the risk of contracting such disease is known as occupational disease.
- A person engaged in an employment involving exposure to dust containing silica is liable to contract silicosis.
- Telegraph operators are liable to contract a disease named Telegraphist’s Cramp.
An employer is liable to pay compensation to a workman when he contracts a disease as included in Part A, B and C of Schedule III as under:
PART A: An employer is liable to pay compensation to a workman when he contracts disease. It contains the occupational diseases like:
- Parasitic diseases
- Diseases caused by work in compressed air.
- Diseases caused by lead or its toxic compounds.
- Poisoning by nitrous fumes.
- Poisoning by organ phosphorous compounds.
PART B: An employer is liable to pay compensation for any disease included in this part of the schedule provided a workman is in continuous service for a period of 6 months. It includes the diseases such as:
- Diseases caused by phosphorous or its toxic compounds.
- Disease caused by mercury or its toxic compounds.
- Disease caused by benzene or its toxic compounds.
- Diseases caused by radioactive substances.
- Disease caused by chromium and its toxic compounds.
- Disease caused by arsenic or its toxic compounds.
PART C: A workmen is entitled to compensation if he has been in service of one or more employers for such continuous period as the Central Government may specify. It includes the diseases such as:
- Allergy caused by inhalation of organic dusts.
- Acute pulmonary oedema of high altitude.
- Bronchopulmonary disease caused by hard metals.
CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH EMPLOYER IS NOT LIABLE:
An employer is not liable to pay compensation to a workman for personal injury caused to him by an accident arising out of and in the course of employment in the following circumstances:
- If the injury does not result in the total or partial disablement of a workmen for a period exceeding 3 days.
- If the injury mot resulting in such death caused by an accident which is directly attributable to:
- Employee’s wilful disobedience: If the injury or disability occurred due to the wilful disobedience of the employee, such as intentionally disregarding safety guidelines or instructions provided by the employer, the employer may not be liable for compensation.
- Employee’s intoxication: If the injury or disability resulted from the employee being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the employer can prove that the employee’s intoxication was the sole cause of the accident, the employer may not be liable for compensation.
- Employee’s wilful removal of safety guards: If the employee wilfully removes or disables any safety guard or protective device provided by the employer, and the injury or disability occurs as a result of this action, the employer may not be liable for compensation.
- Employee’s own negligence: If the injury or disability occurred due to the employee’s own negligence and it can be established that the negligence was the sole cause of the accident, the employer may not be liable for compensation.
- An employer is not liable to pay compensation in following cases also:
- When the accident did not arise out of and in the course of employment.
- When the workman filed a suit for damages in the Civil court
- When the occupation disease is not directly attributable to a specific injury.
These defences have been made available to an employer simply to restrain a workman from inflicting injuries to himself by his own act to claim compensation from the employer.