Labour Laws Q/A

Loaders and Unloaders – Whether Liable to be Covered

Employees State Insurance Act, 1948

Loaders and Unloaders – Whether Liable to be Covered

Will the loaders and unloaders, engaged casually or by the transporter, be covered under the ESI Act?

Merely because the loaders and unloaders have not been able to get the benefit, it will not be a ground for non-coverage under the ESI Act. The definition of an ‘employee’ makes it abundantly clear that the persons engaged through an immediate employer are also employees for the purpose of the Act and, therefore, the liability for payment of contribution on the wages paid to such employees is on the employer. That definition is in wide terms and includes persons who are engaged in doing any work which is even preliminary to the work carried or incidental to the performance of the factory or establishment.1

However, the loaders and unloaders are engaged by the contractor only make a casual entry on the premises of the appellant-Corporation’s depots for the purpose of loading and they are answerable only to the contractor for due performance of the said work and not to the appellant-Corporation as held by Andhra Pradesh High Court. The court also held that the Petroleum Corporation is not to pay ESI contributions for loaders and unloaders by transporters.2

When the activity of loading and unloading is a regular activity in regular course of business, under the supervision and control of the employer, the employees like coolies/hamalies employed through contractors or direct for carrying out the job, will be employees under section 2(9) of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.3

1. E.K. Haj Mohammed Meera Sahib and Sons v. Regional Director, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, 2003 LLR 308: 2003 (96) FLR 1174: 2003 (I) LLJ 1041: 2003 (2) LLN 31: 2003 (1) CLR 741 (Mad HC).
2. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (represented by its Regional Director), 2008 LLR 490 (AP HC).
3. Regional Director, E.S.I. Corporation, Goa v. Farmacia Ananta, Goa, 2013 LLR 916: 2013 FLR 811 (Bom HC).

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H.L Kumar

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