BPCL’s order barring employees with less than 15 years of service from post-retirement medical scheme quashed

The Kerala High Court has directed Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) to continue to provide the Post Retirement Medical Benefit Scheme (PRMBS) to employees with less than 15 years of service in accordance with the long-term settlement.

The court passed the order on a batch of writ petitions filed by the employees’ unions in the BCPL, Kochi Refinery, Ambalamugal. Allowing the petition, the court also quashed the company's notification depriving medical benefits to the employees who had not completed 15 years service as on June 1, 2021.

The petitioners said that the scheme was introduced as part of welfare measures to provide sustainable medical benefits to eligible employees and their dependants in view of the occupational hazards arising from the employment. In fact, the benefits were being enjoyed by the petitioners by way of a binding settlement. Therefore, it could not be withdrawn unilaterally by the company.

The company took the stand that the writ petitions were not maintainable as the dispute strictly came within the scope of an industrial one as specifically defined under Section 2(s) of The Industrial Disputes Act. The court observed that any issue over denial of benefits of the provisions of PRMBS incorporated in a settlement to a group of employees could not constitute an industrial dispute as contemplated under the Section.

The court also pointed out that the settlement that was applicable to the entire sub executive level staff had now been tinkered with by carving out a group of persons and denying them the benefits.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 5:37:24 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kerala-hc-quashes-bpcl-s-order-barring-employees-from-enrolling-in-post-retirement-medical-scheme/article65422943.ece