The Bill seeks to give higher compensation in the event of injury or death
Funeral aid is proposed to be raised from
Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000
In case of death, compensation to go up from
Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1.2 lakh
NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha has unanimously approved, by voice vote, the Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2009, that seeks to give higher compensation to workers and their families in the event of injury or death. It empowers the Centre to enhance the compensation and funeral expenses, by notification, from time to time. It also empowers the government to specify, by notification, monthly wages for an employee.
The Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, was approved in the Rajya Sabha after a robust debate. Members, cutting across party lines, sought a higher compensation in the event of death or permanent disability. Minister for Labour Mallikarjun Kharge did not agree to this , but said the government could raise the compensation “linked to the price index,” by notification. “We won’t have to come to Parliament for that.”
He said the Bill sought to remove a lot of restrictive clauses. Besides, the Bill is proposed to be re-christened the Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2009, to make it gender sensitive. The compensation would be paid in three months.
In the case of a funeral, the aid is proposed to be raised from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000. In the event of death, the compensation for the family from the company is proposed to be raised from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1.2 lakh and for permanent disability a worker could get Rs. 1.4 lakh, up from the present Rs. 90,000. There is a new provision for actual reimbursement of medical expenses, he added.
Mr. Kharge said the amendment would enable even a single person to be eligible for compensation unlike in the past when there was a limit to the number of labourers working in any unit for claiming compensation.
All sorts of hazardous occupations had been covered under the Act including those “on ground, water and air,” he assured Najma Heptulla (BJP), who wanted to know whether onshore and offshore oil drilling employees were covered under the Act.
For those workers who had shifted base to some other place, the Labour Commissioner would have the powers to transfer the case. Further, the Commissioner would have the powers of a civil court judge, the Minister assured T. K. Rangarajan (CPI-M), who asked a question in this regard .
Tapan Sen (CPI-M) said on the one hand the government had brought the Bill benefiting workers, on the other it planned to introduce a Bill that would liberate employers from the obligation of compensating workers. He asked Mr. Kharge to withdraw the latter Bill.