Nature, Scope and important definitions of workmen’s compensation act 1923

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Q-1      Describes the Nature, Scope and important definitions of workmen’s compensation act 1923?


This Act clearly indicates that it is meant for awarding compensation to the worker in cases where they meet an accident and get injured. Before the promulgation of this Act whenever a worker got injured owing to an accident, there were only two ways for him either to remain silent and bear all the pain and suffer all losses or to file a suit to recover any compensation. The other course open for the recovery of compensation was to file a regular suit in a civil court. Although this course was open to every worker but it was very rare that he succeeded in the case. He could have been successful only when he prayed beyond any doubt that the injury received by him was due to the negligence of the employer and this was an uphill task as in such cases the employer usually took the defence:

(1)        Doctrine of common employment      (2)        The defence of assumed risk.

(3)        The principle of contributory negligence.


In the face of these defences it was in race cases that the worker could cross the hurdles and succeed in establishing the negligence, of the employer. Besides these difficulties this litigation required a lot of time for a case to be decided due to long procedure. Not only time, it also involved a heave expenditure which a worker could hardly afford and thus the result was that in the first place it was not possible for every worker to dare take such action and if at all anybody took it, it was something next to impossible to succeed. In such circumstances a worker who met an accident and received Injury or disablement remained helpless.

In 1923 this Act was, promulgated as a measure of social security and proved to be of great help to a work. This Act abolished all the three defences of the employer and under this Act the only thing that is to be proved is whether the injury was accidental and arose out of and in the course of his employment. The moment it is proved the worker becomes entitled to receive compensation. TH? Act is a measure to ensure public welfare. It is very easy to decide without any legal knowledge that in case of any injury caused to a worker whether compensation is undue and if due to what extent. It is cheap and the procedure given in it is very simple. It is also prompt and both the parties know how much is to be paid as schedules of compensation are provided in it. With all this it must be remembered that this Act has not taken away the right of any worker to take action under the common law. Thus it can be seen that there are two remedies open for ap, employee i.e. action under Workman Compensation Act cr under the common law. In case of success in an action under common law it is possible that the damages are greater in amount. It is not open to use both the remedies. The worker will have to use his choice for one. If he chooses to take action under the common law he will not have any right to take an action under this Act and in case action is taken under this Act action under common law will be closed.


The aims and objects of Workmen’s Compensation Act are:

  1. To protect the workman, as far as possible, from hardship arising from accident.
  2. To provide for payment of compensation for injury by accident.
  3. To increase importance of adequate safety devices in order to reduce number of accidents,
  4. To encourage employer to provide adequate medical treatment fox mitigating the effect of accidents.



Adult [Sec. 2(1)(a)]

Adult and minor for the purpose of Workmen’s Compensation Act means respectively a person who is not, a person who is, under the age of 15 years.


Dependent [See. 2(D)(d)]

According to the definition given in the Workmen’s Compensation. Act, dependent means specified relatives whether or not they are dependent on the earning of the workman at the time of his death. Dependents can be classified into two main categories viz, specified relations and specified dependents.

(a)        Specified Relations

The relatives who become dependents -without any qualifications are:

(i)                   Wife                                                    (ii)        Minor legitimate son

(iii)       Unmarried legitimate daughter                       (iv)       Widowed mother

The question of dependency on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death does not arise in the case of the above relatives. The only things have to establish is the specified relation.

(b)        Specified Dependents

The relatives of a deceased workman who cannot claim compensation by merely proving the specified relationship4 and have to prove that they were wholly or in part dependent on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death are:

(i)         Widower                                              (ii)        Parent other than widowed mother

(iii)       Minor illegitimate son                          (iv)       Unmarried illegitimate daughter

(v)        Minor brother                                       (vi)       Unmarried or widowed sister

(vii)      Widowed daughter-in-law                   (viii)      Minor child of a decease son

(ix)       Minor son of a deceased daughter


Employer [Sec. 2(l)(e)]

According to Section 2(1)(e), the term employer includes:

a)      Any body of persons whether incorporated or not

b)      Any managing agent of an employer, i.e., a person entitled to the management of the whole affairs of another person

c)      Legal representative of a deceased employer, and

d)      A person to whom the services of the workman were temporarily lent and the workman was working for him.


Workman [Sec. 2(l)(n)]

Workman means any person who is employed on monthly wages upto Rs. 3,000, in any capacity specified in Schedule II whether the contract of employment is expressed or implied, oral or in writing. It also includes a railway servant. A railway servant is deemed a workman if he is not permanently employed in any administrative, district or sub-divisional office of a railway and not employed in such capacity as is specified in Schedule II. Workman does not include a person whose employment is of a casual nature and who is employed otherwise than for the purpose of the employer’s trade or business.

Schedule II elaborates the list of workman by including the following person in the definition of workmen that is to say, any person who is:

  1. Employed in connection with the operation or maintenance of a lift or vehicle propelled by steam or other mechanical power or electricity.
  2. Employed in any premises wherein on any day within preceding 12 months 10 or more persons were employed in manufacturing process.
  3. Employed for the purpose of making, altering, repairing ornamenting, finishing or otherwise adopting to use, transport or sale any article in any premises wherein on any day in preceding 12 months 50 or more persons were employed.
  4. Employed in manufacturing or handling of explosive.
  5. Employed in a mine.
  6. Employed as master, seaman, and sailor on any ship.
  7. Employed for the purpose of loading, unloading, feeding, constructing, repairing, demolishing, cleaning or painting any ship.
  8. Employed in loading and unloading of goods.
  9. Employed in setting up, repairing, maintaining or taking down any telegraph or telephone line.
  10. Employed in construction working, repair or demolition of any aerial rope-way, pipeline, sewer.
  11. Employed in service of any fire.



Disablement means a loss or reduction of earning power or incapacity for work, and includes inability to get work if that be the result of the accident injury.

Types:            Disablement may be partial or total.

(i)      Partial Disablem&nt [Sec. 2(g)]

Partial disablement means a disablement, which reduces the earning capacity of a workman. Again partial disablement may be either temporary or permanent.

(a)        Temporary Partial Disablement means a disablement, which reduces the earning capacity of a workman in that particular employment in which he was engaged at the time of the accident, resulting in the disablement. In other words when the loss or diminution of earning capacity is caused in relation to the employment in which he was engaged at the time of the accident there is a partial temporary disablement.

(b)        Permanent Partial Disablement The disablement is such which reduces the earning capacity of the Injured worker for any employment, which he could have adopted before the Occident. All injuries given in Schedule 1 are regarded to have caused permanent partial disablement (Section 2 g).

(ii)    Total Disablement [Sec. 2((i)]

In the case of total ‘disablement the worker becomes incapable of doing all types of work. If it is the case that he has become only incapable to perform the work, which he was doing at the time he received the injury but can do some other work, it cannot be considered a total disablement. Even in the case of permanent partial disablement if the worker cannot get any work owing to the disablement caused to him, he shall be ‘deemed to have become totally disabled and can claim compensation on that ground.

  1. A total disablement may be either* temporary or permanent. If the aggregate percentage of loss of earning capacity does not amount to 100%, it will not be deemed to be a case of permanent total disablement. A permanent total disablement is deemed to result from:
  2. The permanent total loss of sight of both eyes, or
  3. From any combination of injuries specified in Schedule I, if the aggregate percentage of the loss of earning capacity as specified in that schedule amounts to at least’ one hundred percent.
  4. If after a partial permanent disablement, a workman becomes physically fit to resume his former employment and earn his former wage, but fails to secure a job due to such disablement, he will be deemed to be totally disabled.

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