The agricultural sector, including plantations, employs 50 per cent of the workforce, contributing to 20 % of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA) in the year 2020-21, making the welfare of the labour force an essential aspect in the growth of the country. Due to this, every employer must comply with the provisions of the Plantation Labour Act to avoid any punitive actions due to non-compliance with such provisions.
The Plantation Labour Act 1951 was enacted by the Central Government with the objective of the welfare of the workers working in plantations. The Act is applicable to India except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The article discusses the Compliance under Plantation Labour Act to help the employer fully comply with the Plantation Labour Act.
What is the Compliance under Plantation Labour Act?
The compliance under Plantation Labour Act is –
Registration of Plantation
Every employer must obtain registration of the plantation under the Plantation Labour Act within 60 days of its existence by filing an application with the registering officer in the prescribed manner and paying the requisite fees. Upon the receipt of the application, the registering officer shall register the plantation and issue the registration certificate.
In case of any change in ownership, management, area or any other prescribed particulars, the employer is obligated to intimate the registering officer about the same within 30 days of such change in the prescribed manner.
After receiving the information of the change, if the officer is of the opinion that the plantation is no longer required, he shall pass an order in this regard and cancel the registration of the plantation and publish the same in the newspaper of the area where the plantation is situated.
Compliance regarding Health
The employer must comply with the following compliance under the plantation Labour Act.
- Make arrangements for drinking water at convenient places on the plantation to enable wholesome drinking water for the workers.
- Separate washrooms for males and females on the plantation are situated in convenient places easily accessible to the workers.
- Ensure cleanliness and sanitary conditions of the washrooms.
- Provide the medical facilities on the plantation be readily available to the workers and their family members in the manner prescribed by the central government.
- If the employer fails to provide such medical facilities in the prescribed manner, the same shall be provided by the State Government upon the request of the chief inspector, recovering the cost for such default by the defaulting officer.
- The amount of recovery shall be certified by the chief inspector to the collector, who shall recover the same as an arrear of land revenue.
Compliance regarding Welfare
The provisions regarding compliance under Plantation Labour Act regarding welfare are provided in Chapter IV of the Act, wherein the employer must adhere to the following compliance requirements.
- The employer must provide one or more canteen in the plantation wherein at least one hundred fifty workers are employed as per the rules formulated by the State Government in respect of the same, which includes –
- Date opening of the canteen
- No. of canteen that must be provided as well as the standards of construction furniture, accommodation and other equipment of the canteen
- The food that would be served in the canteen and the charges for the same
- The constitution of a managing committee and the representation of the workers in the canteen
- The delegation of the chief inspector and his powers to make rules
- Provide the facility of crèches where the no. of women workers is at least 50, including the ones employed by the contractor, or where the no. of children of the women working on the plantation is more than 20
- The room provided by the employer as crèches must provide accommodation and be well ventilated and clean and under the charge of a woman who is trained in handling children.
- Facilitate the recreational facilities for workers and children employed on the plantation as prescribed by the State Government
- The employer must ensure to provide educational facilities to the children of 6-12 yrs of the workers employed in the plantation if the no. of such children exceeds 25 as per the rules prescribed by the State Government.
- Employers must provide housing facilities to the workers and their families working on the plantation.
- Any worker living outside the plantation shall be entitled to a residence by the employer upon requesting in writing only if the worker has been in continuous employment with the worker for at least 6 months.
- It must be noted that this provision won’t be applicable for the worker who is a family member of a deceased person who was residing in residence immediately before his death.
- The employer is liable to pay compensation to the employee in case of death or injury to either the employee or his family member as per the provisions of the
- Workmen Compensation Act 1923. It must be noted that the cause of such an accident should not be personal or a natural calamity.
Compliance regarding the Safety of Workers
The employer must comply with the following compliance under Plantation Labour Act.
- The employer must ensure to make arrangements for the safety of the workers regarding the handling, use, storage and transport of insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances.
- The employer must appoint persons possessing the prescribed qualifications to supervise the handling, use, transportation, and storage of insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances on his plantation.
- Every employer shall ensure that the employee gets training regarding handling, mixing, blending and applying insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances, and made aware of all the safety measures to be adopted during emergencies arising from spilling off the chemical or toxic substances.
- The employer has to ensure that every worker exposed to insecticides and toxic substances shall be medically examined periodically, in the manner prescribed by the State Government.
- Every employer must maintain a health record of every worker exposed to insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances used, handled, stored or transported on a plantation. Every such worker will have access to the record.
- Every employer shall provide-
(a) bathing, washing, and clock room facilities
(b) protective clothing and equipment to every worker involved in handling insecticides, chemicals or toxic substances as the State Government prescribes
- Every employer shall display a list of permitted concentrations of insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances in the breathing zone of the workers engaged in the handling and applying such insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances.
- The employer is obligated to display precautionary notices indicating the hazards of insecticides, chemicals and toxic substances prescribed by the State Government.
Compliance regarding Hours and Limitations of Employment
The employer must fulfil the following compliance under Plantation Labour Act.
- The working hours of an adult shall not exceed more than 48 hrs in a week and 24 hr in the case of adolescents; otherwise, they must be provided overtime wages for the same, which shall, in total, not exceed 9 hours on any day and more than 54 hours in any week.
- The employer is obligated to provide twice the actual wages to workers working on closed holidays or any day of rest on the plantation.
- The weekly holiday shall be decided by the State Government, however. Ordinarily, the worker is entitled to a day off in 7 days.
- Every employee should be provided rest interval after continuously working for 5 hrs.
- The spread over shall not exceed 12 hrs within a day, including when the worker was waiting for work.
- The employer is obligated to display a notice regarding the period of work, i.e. hours the worker is expected to work in the prescribed manner. No worker shall be allowed to work for hours other than the period specified in the notice.
- The employer has the liberty to refuse the employment of a worker who arrives 30 minutes later than the expected work time.
- The employer is prohibited from employing children on the plantation along with employer women between 6 am to 7 pm; however, the same shall not apply to midwives and nurses.
- The employer must employ an adolescent only after obtaining a fitness certificate from the surgeon, which shall be obtained at the request of the guardian or parent of the adolescent, along with filling an application for the same and payment of fees.
- The certificate shall be valid for 1 year.
Compliance regarding Leave with Wages
The compliance under the Plantation Labour Act with regard to leave and wages are
- The worker shall be allowed leave with wages for no. of days calculated at the rate of-
- For an adult, one day for every 20 days of work performed by him.
- For a young person, one day for every 15 days of work performed by him.
- Any day on which the worker performs half or more than half a day’s work shall be counted as one day.
- If the worker does not take the prescribed leaves provided to him annually, the remaining leaves shall be carried forward in the succeeding year.
- A worker shall not be entitled to earn any leave under this section when his earned leave amounts to thirty days.
- In case the worker is terminated, the employer is obligated to pay the amount for leaves not utilised by such worker, the payment of which shall be made before the expiry of the second day of termination of the worker.
- In order for leave to be allowed to a worker under section 30, he shall be paid-
- The rate is equivalent to the daily wage payable to the worker immediately before starting such leave under the terms of any award, law, agreement, or contract of service if employed wholly on a time-rate basis.
- In addition to the above-mentioned cases, apart from the daily wages, the worker is entitled to payment of cash value of food and other concessions allowed to him by the employer.
- An adult worker who has been allowed leave for 4 days, a young worker for five days u/s 30 shall be paid his wages for the period of the leave allowed before his leave begins at such a rate, period and such intervals as may be prescribed.
- The employer must provide the sickness allowance to the worker upon the worker producing a sickness certificate from an authorised medical practitioner.
Compliance regarding Accidents
The employer’s compliance under the plantation labour Act regarding accidents is mentioned below.
- The employer is obligated to send a notice to the appropriate authority in case of an accident that causes the death or bodily injury to any worker, which disables him to work for 48 hours or more after the accident or of any nature.
- The employer must maintain a record of such accidents on the plantation in the prescribed manner.
- It is the employer’s duty to provide compensation to a worker on a plantation in case of an accident, and the employer must register the memorandum relating to such compensation with the Commissioner as per the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.
Penalties Consequential to Non-Compliance
The penalties under the Plantation Labour Act are as follows
- In case of obstruction of the inspector by an employer or any other person with regard to the discharge of the duties of the inspector as prescribed in the Act or refusal, wilful neglect in enabling the Inspector in conducting any examination inspection, or inquiry authorised by or under this Act regarding any plantation he shall be punished with imprisonment for 6 months, or with fine which may extend to rupees ten thousand or with both.
- Any person, including the employer, who refuses to produce registers or other documents kept in pursuance of this Act on the demand of the Inspector, prevents or attempts to prevent anyone from being examined or appearing in front of an Inspector will be punished in accordance with the act.
- If the employer or any other person knowingly uses or attempts to use a certificate of fitness of another person under that section or allows any person to use his fitness certificate, he would be imprisoned for 2 months or levied a fine of Rs. 1000/- or both.
- If anyone contravenes the provisions of this Act shall be liable for 6 months imprisonment or a fine which may extend to Rs. 10,000/-, or with both
- The employer must note that in the event of committing the offence for the second time, he shall be punishable on a subsequent conviction with either 1 year imprisonment, fine of a minimum of Rs. 10,000 extending up to Rs. 100000/- or both.
- in case an employer is convicted for an offence punishable under section 36, the Court has the power to take measures to remedy the matter in addition to awarding any punishment by order in writing
- In case the employer is able to prove that he is not the actual offender and is able to produce the actual offender on the date of hearing, the same can be exercised by providing a notice of 3 days to the court with regard to this intention of the employer along with further proving that
- The employer exercised due diligence in enforcing the execution of the relevant provisions of this Act
- The actual offender has knowledge, consent or connivance of the offence committed by him, the actual offender shall be convicted of the offence and liable to the same punishment as the employer leading to his acquittal only after the examination employer on oath along with the witness to support his contentions
- However, suppose the employer is unable to produce the actual alleged offender on the day of the hearing. In that case, the court shall be adjourned from time to time which shall not exceed 3 months. Even after the employer cannot produce the actual offender, the case shall proceed against the offender.
India is an agrarian country and contributes to providing employment to various labourers, even in the plantation sector, making it a lucrative business option for businessmen. Any organisation must work for the welfare of those who are employed. The workmen, in particular, handle risky situations, it is necessary to take reasonable precautions and follow all the norms set by the authorities to ensure the overall development of the workforce. For the growth of your business and to avoid punitive actions, it is necessary that the employers meet labour compliance under the Plantation Labour Act.
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