The State Government will soon amend the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, whereby the family of construction workers, who die in an accident at the worksite, will be eligible for compensation with the help of a police First Information Report (FIR), said Vasanth Kumar Hittanagi, director of the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers’ welfare board.
In the cases of death occurring in an accident at the worksite, the contractors always tried to avoid mentioning it in the complaints to avoid the police. “But, because of this the deceased worker’s next of kin will not be able to claim the Rs. 1 lakh compensation available to them,” he said and added that this problem could be overcome by considering the FIR as a valid document, he said.
Another amendment to the Act being contemplated was to authorise all registered doctors to issue age certificates to workers. Lat present, only Government surgeons were authorised to issue these certificates, Mr. Hittanagi said at the seminar organised by the District Legal Services Authority, Labour Department, and Bar Association. The workshop, which focussed on Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act, 1996, and Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996, was aimed at creating an awareness about the two Acts among government officials and trade union leaders.
Mr. Hittanagi highlighted the legal provisions that are available for construction workers. The construction should not be made to work for more than 48 hours a week and they should be paid extra wages, in case they were made to work for more than the stipulated number of hours. The working hours should not be extended beyond nine hours a day. Workers should be given a half-hour break after every five hours of working. They should be given one paid holiday every week, he said.
Workers were entitled to double wages for each extended hour of work and for working on holidays. They should also be given a compensatory off within five days of working on a holiday, Mr. Hittanagi said. Women should be employed only between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day, and in case of an extension of the working hours, the contractor must seek special sanction from the Labour Department. If there were more than 50 women workers in a construction site, the employers must provide a separate toilet, a source of clean drinking water, and a crèche for their children, he said.
In case more than 250 workers were employed at a site, the employer should make arrangements to provide them with food. The retirement age for women was 50 years, and for men it was 55.
The contractors and employers should make sure that all the workers had their Government welfare cards so they received all their retirement benefits, including pension and provident fund, he said.