Employment Injury, Health, and Maternity Benefit
The Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923 is one of the earliest pieces of labour legislation. It covers all cases of ‘accident arises out of and in the course of employment’ and the rate of compensation to be paid in a lump sum, is determined by a schedule proportionate to the extent of injury and the loss of earning capacity. The younger the worker and the higher the wage, the greater is the compensation subject to a limit. The injured person, or in case of death the dependent, can claim the compensation, this law applies to the unorganized sectors and to those in the organized sectors who are not covered by the Employees State Insurance Scheme, which is conceptually considered to be superior to the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 provides a scheme under which the employer and the employee must contribute a certain percentage of the monthly wage to the Insurance Corporation that runs dispensaries and hospitals in working class localities. It facilitates both outpatient and in-patient care and freely dispenses medicines and covers hospitalization needs and costs. Leave certificates for health reasons are forwarded to the employer who is obliged to honour them. Employment injury, including occupational disease is compensated according to a schedule of rates proportionate to the extent of injury and loss of earning capacity. Payment, unlike in the Workmen’s Compensation Act, is monthly. Despite the existence of tripartite
bodies to supervise the running of the scheme, the entire project has fallen into disrepute due to corruption and inefficiency. Workers in need of genuine medical attention rarely approach this facility though they use it quite liberally to obtain medical leave. There are interesting cases where workers have gone to court seeking exemption from the scheme in order to avail of better facilities available through collective bargaining.
The Maternity Benefit Act is applicable to notified establishments. Its coverage can therefore extend to the unorganized sector also, though in practice it is rare. A woman employee is entitled to 90 days of paid leave on delivery or on miscarriage. Similar benefits, including hospitalization facilities are available under the law.