The present legislation was enacted by the Parliament of India with the name and title as ‘the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996’ (Act no. 27 of 1996). The Act was provided with the object and purpose to provide for regulating the employment and conditions of Service of Building and other construction workers and also to provide for their safety, health and welfare measure. The ordinance namely, the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1995 was promulgated by the President of India of 3rd day of November, 1995 as a of State Labour Minister’s Committee consensus for having a Central level Law on the subject of regulating the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and providing them safety, health, welfare measures. The said decision was taken in the 41st Labour Ministers Conference held on 18th day of May, 1995. Later, the Bill replacing the said Ordinance was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 1st day of December, 1995, however, the bill was lapsed due to its could not taken up for consideration. But the President of India also promulgated Ordinance of 1996, however, that ordinance was also remained un-passed. And, resultantly, the Second Ordinance of 1996 was promulgated by the President of India, same was also remained as it is. Lastly the third Ordinance of 1990 was promulgated by the President on 20th day of June, 1996 which replaced in the present Act. The Building and other construction workers in India were seen one of the most numerous and vulnerable segments of the unorganized labour in country. The concerned work was characterized by their inherent risk to the life and limb of the workers also by its casual nature, temporary relationship between employer and employee, uncertain working hours, lack of basic amenities and inadequacy of welfare facilities, etc. Although there were certain provisions of certain Central Acts applicable to such Workers, however, there was felt a need to have comprehensive Central Legislation on the issue. The Act was assented by the President of India on 19th day of August, 1996 and was extended to the whole of Indian territories. The Act was brought into force on the 1st day of March, 1996. The provisions of the Act were made applicable to every establishment where 10 or more than 10 building workers employed for any building or other construction work.
The Act make provisions from the second chapter, where at the first instant the Central Government is required to constitute a Central Building and Other Construction Workers’ Advisory Committee for advising that Government on the matters of administrations of this Act. Further, State Advisory committees are to be constituted by the State Government. The Act further, sought the constitution of the Expert committees by the appropriate Government for advising that Government on the matter of making Rules under this Act.
Chapter III of the Act makes provisions as to establishments’ registration under this Act. It is made clear that for such registrations, the appropriate Government should provide for appointment of persons to be the Registering Officers under this Act and also for defining the jurisdictional limits of such registering officers. For getting themselves registered under this Act, the employer from the establishment being subjected to this Act should apply to the concerned Registering officer within the specified time period and such Officer is mandatorily required to register such establishment and also issue a Certificate of Registration. However, such registration can be revoked by the Registering officer on his satisfaction that the said was obtained by misrepresentation or by suppression of any material fact or even in case where the compliance of the provisions of this Act were not made in relation to concerned work. Act further provides for Appellate authority for entertaining appeals against such revocation.
The Chapter IV of the Act provides for registration of the building workers as the Beneficiaries, who are made entitled to the benefits provided from the Funds by the Board. A very specific condition is given for registering as beneficiary, is the worker should be from the age group of 18 to 60 years and for 90 days at least he is being engaged from a year on the Building or other construction work. Applications for such registration are required to be made before the Board’s authorized officer. Such Board after registering such workers as beneficiary under this Act, should also issue identity cards to them. The employer is responsible to maintain a Register of Beneficiaries and the beneficiaries are responsible for making contributions to the Fund at the specified rates.
Further, the subsequent chapters makes provisions as to welfare of the Building and Other construction workers by providing for constitution of Welfare Boards and providing the same with relevant functions and also grants, loans by the Government as being financial assistance for performing its functions under this Act. The Board is responsible besides all its responsibilities, to constitute Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Fund. Moreover, provisions as to working hours, welfare measures, Safety and health measures, working conditions of service of such Workers have been provided under Sixth and Seventh chapter of the Act.
Moreover, the eighth chapter of this Act makes provisions as to appointment of Director General, Chief Inspector and Inspectors by the Central Government for the purpose of providing the standards of inspection. Their powers are also specified under subsequent provisions of this Act.
Further, chapter IX of the Act makes special provisions where, employer is made responsible for providing the constant and adequate supervision any such work in relation to his establishment for ensuring compliance with the provisions of this Act on the matters of safety. Besides this there are other relevant responsibilities were provided under this Act for the employers.
The tenth chapter of the Act makes penal provisions where the contraventions of the Provisions relating to the Safety measures, are treated as an offence under this Act and also there are several other instances where the Act makes them as offences and provides for their punishments. The Act under its last chapter makes miscellaneous, where besides other it is specified that the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 requires to have applicability in relation to the building workers. The Central Government is empowered to provide for directions for the State Governments, Board, etc. under this Act as to carrying out the provisions of this Act in such States. Further, Act empowers the appropriate Government to make rules, after having consultation with the expert Committee on the matters provided under this Act. The Act lastly, sought to repeal the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Third Ordinance, 1996 without affecting any action, etc. taken thereof.