INTRODUCTION on Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 :
The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 provides for certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injury and also makes provisions for certain other matters in relation thereto. The Act has been amended by the Employees’ State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010 for enhancing the Social Security Coverage, streamlining the procedure for assessment of dues and for providing better services to the beneficiaries.
The Act extends to the whole of India. The Central Government is empowered to enforce the provisions of the Act by notification in the Official Gazette, to enforce different provisions of the Act on different dates and for different States or for different parts thereof [Section 1(3)]. The Act applies in the first instance to all factories (including factories belonging to the Government) other than seasonal factories [Section 1(4)]. According to the proviso to Section 1(4) of the Act, nothing contained in sub-section (4) of Section 1 shall apply to a factory or establishment belonging to or under the control of the Government whose employees are otherwise in receipt of benefits substantially similar or superior to the benefits provided under the Act. Section 1(5) of the Act empowers the appropriate Government to extend any of the provisions of the Act to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise after giving one month’s notice in the Official Gazettee. However, this can be done by the appropriate Government, only in consultation with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation set up under the Act and, where the appropriate Government is a State Government, it can extend the provisions of the Act with the approval of the Central Government.
Under these enacting provisions, the Act has been extended by many State Governments to shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, including preview theatres, newspaper establishments, road transport undertakings, etc., employing 20 or more persons. It is not sufficient that 20 persons are employed in the shop. They should be employee as per Section 2(9) of the Act, getting the wages prescribed therein (ESIC v. M.M. Suri & Associates Pvt. Ltd., 1999 LAB IC SC 956). According to the proviso to sub-section (5) of Section 1 where the provisions of the Act have been brought into force in any part of a State, the said provisions shall stand extended to any such establishment or class of establishment within that part, if the provisions have already been extended to similar establishment or class of establishments in another part of that State.
It may be noted that a factory or an establishment to which the Act applies shall continue to be governed by this Act even if the number of persons employed therein at any time falls below the limit specified by or under the Act or the manufacturing process therein ceases to be carried on with the aid of power. [Section 1(6)]
The coverage under the Act is at present restricted to employees drawing wages not exceeding `15,000 per month.