Workmen Compensation

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Many people do not realise that industrial injuries and accidents are quite frequent. These accidents and injuries can be highly damaging, often leading to permanent total or partial disability, if not death. Workers deserve compensation as they contribute to the employer’s business success. Moreover, the labour of workers contributes to the comfort and consumption of society, and so the risks that workers take in the course of performing their duties should be a concern for society at large. Therefore, laws have been made to ensure that workers are compensated for injuries and accidents that occur while on the job. Insurance companies provide workers’ compensation insurance to businesses to cover employee accidents, injuries, ailments, and death.

Workers’ compensation insurance and the law

In India, injuries or death while on the job was first covered under the Employee’s Compensation Act, originally known as the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923. It is one of India’s earliest legislation on social security and labour welfare wherein it gives recognition to the fact that if a worker is a victim of a work-related illness or an accident, he or she will receive compensation accordingly. As such, workers’ compensation and workplace injuries are crucial liability issues for all businesses, large or small. Businesses purchase workers’ compensation insurance policies from insurance companies to manage these liabilities.

If a business has a staff of fewer than 20 people, the workers’ insurance falls under the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923. In this case, small-scale manufacturing operations and small offices fall under this Act.  Businesses that have a staff of over 20 people fall under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. When an injury at the workplace occurs, the injured employee will receive medical and financial support through insurance.

The importance of workers’ compensation insurance for businesses

All businesses in India should have workers’ compensation insurance in order to meet statutory requirements as per the Indian Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, and the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.

The injuries and death of employees are a huge liability for businesses. Organisations should take care to ensure that the risk of accidents, injuries, and death is as close to the absolute minimum as possible; this would also help reduce premiums charged by insurance companies. The workers’ compensation insurance acts to shield businesses from heavy expenses incurred due to employee accidents and deaths.

Workers’ compensation insurance coverage

Workers’ compensation insurance covers the following:

  • Permanent total disability –

Where the employee is unable to execute any task required by their job due to a workplace-related injury. A doctor would examine, assess and then declare that the insured person has a permanent and total disability with a permanent impact on the employee’s ability to execute their job.

  • Permanent partial disability –

Where the employee is unable to execute their job to the same extent (as before the injury) for the rest of their career due to a workplace-related injury.

  • Temporary disability –

Where the employee has an injury leaving them disabled and unable to perform their job for a limited period.

  • Death –

Where the employee dies due to workplace-related injury or disease, their immediate dependents receive compensation for this unfortunate event.

  • Occupational diseases –

These are diseases that an employee sustains because of the nature of their job during their employment. Schedule III of the Employee’s Compensation Act covers these diseases.

  • Legal expenses –

The employee may receive coverage for legal liabilities arising from accidents that occur at the workplace during the course of employment.

Additional Read: Know these 5 things before you buy Workmen Compensation Insurance

Understanding employee negligence

All employees have a duty to their employers and customers to carry out their work with an expected duty of care so as to avoid or prevent harm and accident. This duty of care differs from industry to industry. Employee negligence is when the employee fails to execute their work with reasonable care, thereby, causing damage, injury, or accident.

Workers’ compensation insurance and employee negligence

Workers’ compensation insurance is the way that employees can recover damages from their employers. In a workers’ compensation claim, insurance companies do not usually take the fault of the injury or illness into consideration. 

However, in some cases of employee negligence, insurance companies may not offer coverage under workers’ compensation insurance.

When employee negligence renders workers’ compensation insurance invalid

Under the following cases of employee negligence, a workers’ compensation insurance claim may be rendered invalid:

  • If the employee sustained a workplace-related injury due to being intoxicated with drugs or liquor; they will not fall under the purview of workplace insurance. Any form of intoxication will go against the employee’s case even for a legitimate claim.
  • If the employee sustains workplace-related injury or death as a result of their intentional act of self-injury or an intentional worsening of an accidental injury. Intentional acts of self-injury are not covered by the insurance.
  • If the employee was not at their workplace when the injury occurred. For receiving compensation for an injury by workers’ compensation insurance, it has to necessarily take place at the workplace.
  • If the employee is engaged in criminal activity while at work; then their claim for worker’s compensation will not be payable. 
  • If the employee neglects or ignores safety protocols while on the job, then insurance companies will not cover the claim.
  • Unless specifically mentioned in the insurance policy, if the employee is under a contractor or sub-contractor, they may not be covered under workers’ compensation insurance.

In conclusion

Every business should have a worker’s compensation insurance policy. Uninsured businesses end up having to spend a huge amount of their working capital on compensations for a severe injury or death of their employees while on the job. Not only does a worker’s compensation insurance policy protect the business, but it is also mandatory as per the law. Organisations must ensure that they maintain safety protocols to avoid employee injury and death. This will also lead to insurance companies viewing the organisation in a positive light, thus, increasing the likelihood of lower premiums.