Special Correspondent

Court decisions, amendments discussed at session organised by NIPM

Workmen deployed outside the notified area should be counted as employees for the coverage of the ESI.

Kochi: Legal Update-2010, an annual workshop organised by the National Institute of Personnel Management(NIPM), Kerala Chapter, on Saturday, discussed labour laws, various court decisions on them and the amendments to various labour legislations.

It was inaugurated by P.J. Joy, chairman of NIPM's Kerala Chapter. H.A.C. Poppen, expert in industrial relations and law, was the key resource person at the workshop. M.N. Radhakrishna Menon, judge, Industrial Tribunal and ESI court, K.V. Mohandas, retired Additional Labour Commissioner and Benny P. Thomas spoke. It was pointed out that in employment related injury cases, claim under the Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act could be made only against the employer or his insurer. Workmen deployed outside the notified area should be counted as employees for the coverage of the ESI. In cases of disputes, the onus was on the employer to prove that workers employed were less than 10.

The Employees Provident Fund Act was applicable to factories and other establishments which employ 20 or more persons. As per section 1(4) of the Act, the government had the power to extend it to establishments which employ less than 20 persons.

The EPF scheme could not be discontinued even if there was a drop in the number of employees, it was pointed out.

Gratuity Act

During discussion on the Gratuity Act, it was pointed out that gratuity should be computed on the bass of last drawn wages.

It was pointed out that forfeiture of gratuity was possible only if the service of an employee who was facing a charge of misconduct was terminated.

Attention was drawn to a court verdict that payment of gratuity to an employee could not be withheld if disciplinary proceedings were not finalised.

As per Section 17b of the Industrial Disputes Act, if the management challenged a reinstatement order before the High Court or Supreme Court, the workman shall be paid his last drawn wages for the period of the trial provided the workman was not employed in any establishment during the period. The workshop also discussed various court decisions on the Workmen Compensation Act and service matters. It pointed out the ESI coverage limit had been raised from Rs.10,000 a month to Rs.15,000 effective from May1, 2010.The gratuity ceiling had been raised from Rs.3.5 lakh to Rs.10 lakh.