The Building and Other Construction Workers

Labour Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh

In building and other construction works more than eight million workers are engaged throughout the country. These workers are one of the most vulnerable segments of the unorganised labour in India. Their work is of temporary nature, the relationship between employer and the employee is temporary, working hours are uncertain. Basic amenities and welfare facilities provided to these workers are inadequate. Risk to life and limb is also inherent. In the absence of adequate statutory provisions to get the requisite information regarding the number and nature of accidents was quite difficult and due to this to fix responsibility or to take corrective measures was not an easy job. Although the provisions of certain Central Acts were applicable to the building and other construction workers yet a need was felt for a comprehensive Central Legislation for regulating the safety, welfare and other conditions of service of these workers. In pursuant to the decision of the 41st Labour Ministers Conference held on 18th May, 1995, the Committee of State Labour Ministers had expressed its consensus for the Central Legislation on this subject. In order to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1995 (Ord. 14 of 1995) was promulgated by the President on 3rd November, 1995 as the Parliament was /not in session. To replace this Ordinance a Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 1st December, 1995. Since the Bill could not be taken up for consideration it lapsed. On 5th January, 1996 the President promulgated the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1996 (Ord. 3 of 1996). To replace this Ordinance a Bill was introduced in the Parliament which could not be passed and the President promulgated the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Second Ordinance, 1996 (Ord. 15 of 1996) on 27th March, 1996. As this Ordinance could not be replaced by an Act of Parliament the President promulgated the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Third Ordinance, 1990 (Ord. 25 of 1996) on 20th June, 1996. In order to replace this Ordinance the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill was introduced in the Parliament.

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

  • It is estimated that about 8.5 million workers in the country are engaged in building and other construction works. Building and other construction workers are one of the most numerous and vulnerable segments of the unorganised labour in India. The building and other construction works are characterised by their inherent risk to the life and limb of the workers. The work is also characterised by its casual nature, temporary relationship between employer and employee, uncertain working hours, lack of basic amenities and inadequacy of welfare facilities. In the absence of adequate statutory provisions, the requisite information regarding the number and nature of accidents is also not forthcoming. In the absence of such information, it is difficult to fix responsibility or to take any corrective action.
  • Although the provisions of certain Central Acts are applicable to the building and other construction workers yet a need has been felt for a comprehensive Central Legislation for regulating their safety, health, welfare and other conditions of service The State Governments and Union Territory Administrations have been consulted ID the matter and a majority of them have favored such a legislation. Also, in a meeting of the Committee of State Labour Ministers constituted pursuant to the decision of the 41st Labour Ministers' Conference held under the Chairmanship of the then Union Labour Minister on the 18th May, 1995, a general consensus had emerged on the need for the proposed Central Legislation.
  • In view of the circumstances explained above, it has been considered necessary to constitute Welfare Boards in every State so as to provide and monitor social security schemes and welfare measures for the benefit of building and other construction workers. For the said purpose, it has been considered appropriate to bring in a comprehensive legislation by suitably amplifying the provisions of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 1988 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th December, 1988. It has also been considered necessary to levy a cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers on the building and other construction works for ensuring sufficient funds for the Welfare Boards to undertake the social security Schemes and welfare measures.
  • As Parliament was not in session and in view of the urgency felt by the Government for meeting the longstanding demand for the aforesaid legislation, the President was pleased to promulgate the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1995 (Ordinance 14 of 1995) along with another Ordinance for the levy of a cess on the 3rd November, 1995.
  • A Bill, namely the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 1995 was introduced in Lok Sabha on the 1st December, 1995 to replace the aforesaid Ordinance by an Act of Parliament Singe the said Bill could not be taken up for consideration in the Winter Session, 1995 and the Budget Session, 1996 of Lok Sabha, fresh Ordinances, namely, the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1996 and the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Second Ordinance, 1996 (Ordinance 15 of 1996) respectively were promulgated on the 5tIl January , 1996 and the 27th March. 1996 with a view to provide continued effect to the legislative protection. With tile dissolution of the 10th Lok Sabha, the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions, of Service) Bill, 1995 has lapsed. By virtue of Articles 123 (2)(a) of the Constitution the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Second Ordinance, promulgated on 27th March, 1996 would have also ceased to operate with effect from 4th July, 1996. In view of the urgency attaching to the matter and as Parliament was not in Session, the President was pleased to promulgate the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Third Ordinance, 1996 (Ordinance 25 of 1996), on 10th June, 1996 in order to give continued effect to the legislative protection envisaged in the said ordinance.
  • The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Third Ordinance, 1996, inter alia, provides for the following matters, namely:-

    (i) provision to cover every establishment which employs or had employed on any day of the preceding twelve months, fifty or more workers in any building or other construction work;

    (ii) define "appropriate Government" in respect of various establishments and also to enable to Central Government to notify and public sector undertaking in respect of which the Central Government will be the appropriate Government;

    (iii) constitution of Central and State Advisory Committee to advise the appropriate Government on matters arising out of administration of the said Ordinance:

    (iv) constitution of Expert Committee to advise on matters relating to framing of rules by the appropriate Government.

    (v) registration of establishments employing construction workers, and appointment of registering officers;

    (vi) registration of building workers as beneficiaries under the said Ordinance and provision for their identity cards, etc.;

    (vii) constitution of Welfare Boards by the State Governments and registration of beneficiaries under the Fund;

    (viii) provide for final1cing and augmenting resources of the Welfare Board constituted by the State Governments;

    (ix) fixing hours for normal working day, weekly paid rest day, wages for over time, provision of basic welfare: amenities like drinking water, latrines and urinals, crches, first aid, canteens, etc., for the building workers;

    (x) provision for temporary living accommodation to all building workers within or near the work site;

    (xi) making adequate provisions for safety and health measures for construction workers including appointment of safety committees and safety officers and compulsory notification of accidents;

    (xii) empowering the Central Government to frame model rules for safety measures headed by Director -General of Inspection at the Central Level and Inspector-General at the State Level;

    (xiii) provision for appointment of inspecting staff including Director-General of Inspection at the Central level and Inspector-General at the State level;

    (xiv) special provisions regarding fixing responsibility of employers to ensure compliance with safety provisions and with regard to prevention of accidents, timely payment of wages, etc;

    (xv) provision for penalties for contravention, obstructions, violation and offence; taking cognizance by court of offence punishable under this Bill; and protection of action taken in good faith;

    (xvi) application of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 to building and other construction workers; and

    (xvii) empowering the Central Government to give directions to the States and to remove difficulties arising in giving effect to the provisions of the said Ordinance.
  • The Bill seeks to replace the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Third Ordinance, .1996.

ACT 27 OF 1996

The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill having been passed by both the Houses of Parliament received the assent of the President on 19th August, .1996. It came on the Statute Book as THE BUILDING AND OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKERS (REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) ACT, 1996 (27 of 1996).

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