Employees Compensation Act, 1923 (ECA) and Employee State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESIA) are two important social security legislations in operation in India. The act aims to provide financial protection to employees and their dependents through compensation in case of any accidental injury that occurs during employment which results in either death or disablement of the employee. It has been held that if there is a casual connection between place of accident and place of work, then the compensation is payable for disablement or death as per provisions of any of these social security legislations.
Section 3 of ESIA defines the employment injury. It means a personal injury to an employee caused by accident or an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his or her employment, being an insurable employment, whether the accident occurs, or the occupational disease is contracted within or outside the territorial limits of India. These interpretations have come to be known as ‘Doctrine of Notional Extension of Workplace’.
Under ECA all employees are covered irrespective of the wages drawn by them provided they belong to categories mentioned in Schedule II of the Act. Again, as per Section 3(1) of the ECA Act, an employer is liable to pay compensation if a personal injury is caused to an employee by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. There are three tests to it:
1) An accident should have happened.
2) The accident should be arising out of and in the course of employment.
3) The accident should result in disability, whether temporary or permanent; Partial or total or death.
It is very important to note the words 'arising out of and in the course of his employment'. These words have been debated and clarified by the Supreme Court of India. It has been upheld by the top court that if there is a casual connection between place of accident and place of work, then the compensation is payable for disablement or death as per provision of the ECA. These interpretations of the Supreme Court have come to be known as 'Doctrine of Notional Extension of Workplace'.
Section 51 E of ESIA addresses accidents happening while commuting to the place of work and vice versa. An accident occurring to an employee while commuting from his residence to the place of employment for duty or from the place of employment to his residence after performing duty, shall be deemed to have arisen out of and in the course of employment if nexus between the circumstances, time and place in which the accident occurred and the employment is established. Similarly, if the employee travels abroad during the course of his/her employment then that will be deemed to be a place of employment.
Section 52 A of ESIA addresses occupational disease. If an employee employed in an employment contracts any disease specified therein as an occupational disease peculiar to that employment, the contracting of the disease shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to be an ‘Employment injury’ arising out of and in the course of employment.
Even heart attack or stroke are covered for employee compensation, if the same is proved to be as a result of occupation. The employee is entitled to these benefits for work stress if the employee is able to prove that the specific work condition or activity probably contributed to the cardiovascular condition such as heart attack, stroke, or has accelerated or aggravated the already existing disease. Even if the employee suffers from a condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease, the employee may still be able to recover compensation benefits as long as the employee can provide medical evidence that the job contributed to the stroke or heart attack or aggravated the already existing condition.
With the advancement in the field of industry, workmen have become more insecure with respect to their employment during the course of employment. These have given birth to various social security legislation and this important 'Doctrine of Notional Extension of Workplace'. It is important to note that various judgements have held that there should be a 'casual connection with place of work for eligibility to get compensation'. This may be taken as a judgement in rem and not as personam. However, it should be noted that the judgmental award for compensation in each individual case is a judgement in personam.
It is to be noted that the payment or compensation under these social security measures is not automatic. The compensation is usually decided by the judicial forums in each case. Among various factors the judicial forums also consider 'casual connection with place of work' before deciding on the quantum of compensation. These social security legislations also states the ‘description of injury’ and the ‘percentage of loss of earning capacity’. Based on this loss of earning capacity the compensation is calculated and awarded. It may be noted that this 'Doctrine of Notional Extension of Workplace' is hence not a law and is subject to interpretation by the executive and the judiciary.
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K Satish Kumar is a keynote speaker, author, the Global Head of Legal and Chief Data Protection Officer of Ramco Systems. Among the many awards he has received, the coveted are ‘Top 50 Legal Leaders 2019’ by Legal IP Gorilla in Singapore, ‘GC PowerList India 2018’ by London-based Legal 500 and ‘ Legal Counsel of the Year-2018’ by INBA. He is actively involved in many pro bono activities through Chennai Lawyers. The author can be reached at email@example.com . The views expressed are personal. here.