To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq. Introduction There are more than 28 million skilled and unskilled workers engaged in the construction sector in India. To address such inhuman working conditions and poor health and safety standards in the real estate industry, the Government of India enacted the Building and Other Constructions Workers Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, hereinafter referred to as the "BOCW Act". The BOCW Act is a social welfare legislation that aims to benefit workers engaged in building and construction activities across the country. The preamble of the BOCW Act explicates the said purpose: "An Act to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures and for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This exclusion clause of Section 2 d has been used by employers to evade registration and payment of cess under the BOCW Act.
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Please Wait.. The construction workers are the most numerous and vulnerable section in India. As the construction companies are growing more and more, many of farm labourers are joining into Reality and Construction Sector as unskilled workers because of poor income and uncertainty in the agriculture sector.
The workers are being hired from the remote villages and sent to the construction sites without explaining the nature of work, complexity and intricacies of building works. The migrant workmen are forced to work at deplorable conditions without proper food, shelter and basic amenities.
In the construction industry, there is inherent risk to the life of the workers. There are various labour legislations in India for the welfare of the construction workers. The Building and Other Construction Workers Regulation and Conditions of Service Act, for short the BOCW Act aims to provide for regulation of employment and conditions of service of the building and other construction workers as also their safety, health and welfare measures in every establishment which employs or employed ten or more workers.
The BOCW Act exempts for the construction of residential houses for own purpose constructed with a cost not exceeding Rs. The provisions in the Act for health and safety measures for the construction workers are in conformity with International Labour Organisation convention No. There is also a provision in the BOCW Act for constitution of safety committees in every establishment employing or more workers with equal representation from workers and employers in addition to appointment of safety officers qualified in the field.
Further, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, exempt any employer or class of employers in a State from the payment of cess payable under this Act where such cess is already levied and payable under any corresponding law in force in that State.
The collection of cess and administration of the Welfare Boards would be the responsibility of concerned State Governments. The proceeds of the cess collected under this Act shall be paid by the local authority or the State Government collecting the cess to the Welfare Board after deducting the cost of collection of such cess not exceeding one percent of the amount collected.
The functions of the welfare boards are - a to provide immediate assistance to a beneficiary in case of accident; b to make payment of pension to the beneficiaries who have completed the age of sixty years; c to sanction loans and advances to a beneficiary for construction of a house not exceeding such amount and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed; d to pay such amount in connection with premium for Group Insurance Scheme of the beneficiaries as it may be deem fit; e to give such financial assistance for the education of children of the beneficiaries as may be prescribed; f to meet such medical expenses for treatment of major ailments of a beneficiary or, such dependent, as may be prescribed; g to make payment of maternity benefit to the female beneficiaries; and h to make provision and improvement of such other welfare measures and facilities as may be prescribed.
PENALTIES: Whoever contravenes the provisions of any rules under BOCW Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both, and in the case of a continuing contravention, with an additional fine which may extend to one hundred rupees for everyday during which such contravention continues after conviction for the first such contravention.
If any person who has been convicted of any offence punishable under the Act is again guilty of an offence involving a contravention or failure of compliance of the same provision, he shall be punishable on a subsequent conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which shall not be less than five hundred rupees but which may extend to two thousand rupees or with both.
The levy of Cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers on the building and other construction works is for ensuring sufficient funds for the Welfare Boards to undertake social security schemes and welfare measures for building and other construction workers. Therefore, it is clear that the said levy is a fee and not tax. Ramana Murthy.
India: BOCW Act, 1996, Applies to Construction Workers
An Overview on BOCW Act, 1996