Plantation Labour Act 1951

Plantation Labour Act: Short Title, Commencement and Application [Section 1]

  1.  This Act may be called the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.
  2.  It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  3.  It shall come into force on such date 1 as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
  4. The Plantations Labour Act (PLA), 1951 applies to any land used or intended to be used for growing tea, coffee, rubber, cinchona or cardamom or any other plant which measures 5 hectares or more and in which 15 or more workers are employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.

The State Government can be notification apply this law to any other land too even if it measures less than 5 hectares and employ less than 15 workers.

Definitions [Section 2]

  1. Adolescent: a person between the age of fourteen and Eighteen.
  2. Child: a person who has not completed his 14 th year.
  3. Employer: the person who has the ultimate control over the affairs of the plantation and where the affairs of the plantation are entrusted to any other person, such other person shall be the employer in relation to that plantation.
  4. Family: means his or her spouse and the legitimate and adopted children of the worker dependent upon him or, who have not completed their eighteenth year, and includes, where the member is a male, his parents dependent upon him.
  5. Plantation: any plantation to which this Act applies and includes offices, hospitals, dispensaries, schools and any other premises used for any purposes connected with such plantation.
  6. Qualified medical practitioner: means a person holding a qualification granted by an authority specified under section 3 of the Indian Medical Degrees Act 1916 of under any provincial or State Medical Council Act.
  7. Wages: as defined under clause (h) of section 2 of the Minimum Wages Act 1948 (11 of 1948).
  8. Worker: means a person employed in a plantation for hire or reward, whether directly or through any agency, to do any work, skilled, unskilled, manual or clerical, having wages less than Rs. 750/– p.m., but does not include – medical officer, managerial staff and temporary workers employed in any work relating to construction, repair, maintenance of roads, bridge, etc.

Registration of Plantations

Section 3-B of the PLA, 1951 makes it compulsory for every employer of a plantation to register it within sixty days of its coming into existence.

Inspecting Staff

Under Section’4, the state government has the power to appoint for the state a duly qualified person to be -the chief inspector of plantations and other persons to, be inspectors subordinate to the chief inspector.

Power and functions of Inspectors [Sections 5 and 6]

  • To examine and make inquiries to ascertain whether the provisions of this Act are being observed in any plantation.
  • can enter, inspect and examine with assistants any part of plantation at any reasonable time and take statements on any person, provided that no person shall be compelled to answer any question or make any statement tending to incriminate himself.

Certifying Surgeons

[Section 7]: The state government is responsible for appointing qualified medical practitioners to be certifying surgeons for within local limits of a plantation or class of plantations.

Duty of the certifying surgeon:

  1. the examination and certification of workers,
  2. the exercise of such medical supervision where adolescents and children are or are to be employed in any work in any plantation which is likely to cause injury to their health.

Provisions Regarding Health

  1. Drinking Water: In every plantation effective arrangements shall be made by the employer to provide and maintain at convenient place a sufficient -supply of wholesome drinking water for all workers [Section 8].
  2. Conservancy: There shall be a sufficient number of conveniently situated & accessible separate latrines and urinals for males and females in every plantation. All of these are to be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition [section g].
  3. Medical facilities: Medical facilities for workers and their families (as prescribed by the state government) have to be maintained and made available by the Employer [Section 10].

In the absence of such prescribed medical facilities, the Chief Inspector can arrange for provision- and maintenance of medical facilities and recover the costs of these from the defaulting employer

Hours and Limitation of Employment

  1. Weekly hours: forty-eight hours a week for Adult workers and twenty seven hours a week for adolescent or child workers [Section 19]. Maximum hours of work are 9 hours a day and 54 hours a week; The worker is entitled to overtime wages at twice the rates of ordinary wages. He/she also has a right to One weekly holiday. Working on a holiday or the day of rest of the worker will entitle worker for double the wages as in overtime work.
  2. Daily intervals for rest: No worker shall work for more than five hours before he/she had an interval for rest for at least half an hour. In addition, a woman resuming her work after delivery is entitled to two breaks daily for nursing her child till the child is fifteen months old. This is in addition to the regular rest interval.
  3. No Night for women and children: Women and children can be employed only between the hours of 6am and 7pm unless permitted by the State Government [Section 25].
  4. Non-adult workers to carry tokens: No child or adolescent will be allowed to work in the plantation unless the employer has a certificate of fitness from the Certifying Surgeon. The token that non adult worker is required to carry bears a reference to this fitness certificate valid for twelve months. The fee for the fitness certificate, if any, is to be paid by the employer and cannot be recovered from the young worker or his/ her guardian [Section 26 & 27).
  5. Annual leave with wages: An adult worker is entitled to one day paid, leave for every twenty days of work. A Child or adolescent is entitled to one day paid leave for every fifteen days. Half or more than half day’s work is counted as full days’ work. This earned leave excludes. holidays. The worker is entitled to average daily wages (including D.A., cash value of food and other concessions, if any allowed to him by the employer). Maximum earned leave that can be encashed is 30 days. If the Employer terminates the services of the worker who has to his credit earned leave, then he shall pay the worker the average daily wages in respect of the leave not taken [ Section 30-31].
  6. Sickness and maternity benefits: Every worker is entitled to sickness allowance, provided this is certified by a qualified medical practitioner. Women workers are entitled to maternity allowance and benefits under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 [Section 32].
  7. Notice of Accidents: The Employers are under obligation to maintain a register of accidents and notify the authorities of any accident where a plantation Worker suffers death or body injury and he is unable to report for work for forty eight hours or more [Section 32].

Penalties and Procedure

Under the Plantation Labour Act, the penalty imposed for violation of the provisions is a fine of Rs.500 and/or 3 months imprisonment. Subsequent / Continued violation of PLA is punishable by a Fine of Rs. 1000 and/or imprisonment of Six months.