Labor Law | Comments (0)


Year : 1938

[Act, No. 24 of 1938]
[24th September, 1938]


An Act to declare that certain defences shall not be raised in suits for damages 2[***] in respect of injuries sustained by workmen.

Whereas it is expedient to declare that certain defences shall not be raised in suits for damages 2[***] in respect of injuries sustained by workmen;

It is hereby enacted as follows:-


1. This Act has been extended to Sikkim w.e.f. 31-12-84-See S.O. 529 (E)/83, published in the Gazette of India, Extra., Pt. II, Section 3 (ii), p. 4 dated 29th July, 1983 and S.O. 982 (E)/84, published in the Gazette of India, Extra., Pt. 11, Section 3 (ii), p. 2, dated 31st December, 1984 respectively. This Act has been cxended to the new Provinces and merged States by the Merged States (Laws) Act, 1949 (59 of 1949), Section 3(1-1-1950) and to the Union territories of Manipur and Tripura by the Union Territories (Laws) Act, 1950 (30 of 1950), Section 3 (16-4-1950). Manipur and Tripura are now States - See Act 81 of 1971. Vindhya Pradesh to which also this Act was extended by Act 30 of 1950, now forms part of the State of Madhya Pradesh - See Act 37 of 1956, Section 9 (1) (e).

It has also been extended to States merged in the State of- Bombay-See Bombay Act 4 of 1950; Bombay has been split up now into two States-Maharashtra and Gujarat, Part also going to Mysore now Karnataka.

Punjab-See Punjab Act 5 of 1950; Punjab stands divided into two States-Punjab and Haryana. (See Act 31 of 1966), Part of it has been added to Himachal Pradesh.

It has now been extended to the Union territories of-

(i) Dadra and Nagar Haveli by Rcgn. 6 of 1963 (1-7-1965); and (ii) Pondicherry by Regn. 7 of 1963 (1-10-1963).

2. Words "in the Provinces" were omitted by A.L.O., 1950.


Section -1 Short title and extent

(1) This Act may be called the Employers' Liability Act, 1938.

(2) It extends to the whole of India1[***].


1. Words "except the State of Jammu and Kashmir", omitted by Act 51 of 1970, Section 2, Schedule (w.e.f. 1-9-1971).


Section -2 Definitions

In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,-

(a) "Workman" means any person who has entered into, or works under a contract of, service or apprenticeship with an employer whether by way of manual labour, clerical work or otherwise, and whether the contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing; and

(b) "Employer" includes any body of persons whether incorporated or not, any managing agent of an employer, and the legal representatives of a deceased employer, and, where the services of a workman are temporarily lent or let on hire to another person by the person with whom the workman has entered into a contract of service or apprenticeship, means such other person while the workman is working for him.

Section -3 Defence of common employment barred in certain cases

Where personal injury is caused to a workman-

(a) By reason of the omission of the employer to maintain in good and safe condition any way, works, machinery or plant connected with or used in his trade or business, or by reason of any like omission on the part of any person in the service of the employer who has been entrusted by the employer with the duty of seeing that such way, works, machinery or plant are in good and safe condition; or

(b) By reason of the negligence of any person in the service of the employer who has any superintendence entrusted to him, whilst in the exercise of such superintendence; or

(c) By reason of the negligence of any person in the service of the employer to whose orders or directions the workman at the time of the injury was bound to conform and did conform, where the injury resulted from his having so conformed; or

(d) 1*[By reason of the act or omission of any person in the service of the employer done or made-

(i) In the normal performance of the duties of that person; or

(ii) In obedience to any rule or bye-law of the employer (not being a rule or bye-law which is required by or under any law for the time being in force to be approved) by any authority and which has been so approved; or

(iii)In obedience to particular instructions given by any other person to whom the employer has delegated authority in that behalf;] a suit for damages in respect of the injury instituted by the workman or by any person entitled in case of his death shall not fail by reason only of the fact that the workman was at the time of the injury a workman of, or in the service of, or engaged in the work of, the employer.

3A 2*Contracting out:-

Any provision contained in a contract of service or apprenticeship, or in an agreement collateral thereto, shall be void in-so-far as it would have the effect of excluding or limiting any liability of the employer in respect of personal injuries caused to the person employed or apprenticed by the negligence of persons in common employment with him.


1. Substituted by Act 5 of 1951, Section 2, for clause (d) (w.e.f. 28-2-1951).

2. Inserted by Act 5 of 1951, Section 3 (w.e.f. 28-2-1951).


Section -4 Risk not to be deemed to have been assumed without full knowledge

In any such suit for damages, the workman shall not be deemed to have undertaken any risk attaching to the employment unless the employer proves that the risk was fully explained to and under stood by the workman and the workman voluntarily undertook the same.

Section -5 Saving

Nothing in this Act shall affect the validity of any decree or order of a Civil Court passed before the commencement of this Act in any such suit for damages.


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