The Building and Other Construction Workers Scheme, also known as BOCW Scheme, is a scheme introduced that assists unskilled labourers by helping them solve issues related to their intensive work and unfavourable conditions. This scheme is for citizens employed in infrastructure construction labour work who are categorized under unorganized labourers who are accustomed to working in accident-prone work environments and with a higher risk of irregular working hours, insecure employment, with insufficient availability of definite welfare facilities which disconsolate their daily survival.
Why was BOCW Scheme introduced?
As there were no proper definitive legal provisions, it was quite a hassle to obtain legal help related to accidents and the employer providing work responsibilities to their workers. There was also the unavailability of an instrumental method to disseminate work properly. It was necessary to establish laws dedicated to the safety of the labourers being employed and to establish definite welfare facilities and required essential services properly.
The government’s aim while introducing this scheme was to improve the labourers by providing financial help under multiple schemes, providing laws that protect their safety while working in high-risk accident-prone construction sites and benefiting them by improving the quality of living standards of their daily survival.
The BOCW Act, 1996, introduced through BOCW Scheme
The preamble of the BOCW Act, 1966 states that for the purpose of safety and well-being of unskilled labourers working for infrastructure and building construction work, this act was introduced for the proper regulation of working conditions for these labourers and any issues arising from these working conditions.
According Section 1 (3) and 1 (4) of The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; which was enforced on the 1st March 1996, applies to workers specifically in every industry that hires or had hired a minimum of ten construction workers for any infrastructure and building construction work in the duration of the past twelve months.
The purpose of the BOCW Scheme and The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 –
- This act was established to observe the work environment of labourers employed for infrastructure construction work. This act is beneficial for implementing laws against robust work durations and sturdy working conditions.
- The BOCW Scheme is a social welfare scheme introduced to support providing financial help and health benefits for workers employed for infrastructure construction work.
- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 helps in regulating the employment and working conditions for labourers employed for infrastructure construction work, especially on issues related to workers’ health, safety and welfare.
- The BOCW Scheme is essential to ensure that the labourers employed for infrastructure construction work are not exploited and maintain a decent work environment.
- This act is issued by the Government of India for all the State Governments for mandatory constitution of their own respective state’s BOCW welfare boards.
- One of the essential functions of the BOCW Scheme is to provide the workers employed for infrastructure construction work with immediate assistance in case of any workplace accident, the help in regard to the issuance of loans for construction of the personal home, payment of insurance schemes, assisting financially for their children’s expenses related to educational fees, assisting in medical bills for workers employed and providing pensions for labourers employed for infrastructure construction work.
- The required age is from eighteen to sixty, and to have been working as a construction worker for a minimum of ninety days in the previous year for qualification for registering as a BOCW Welfare Fund Recipient under the BOCW Act. The registration fee for applying for registration cannot be more the fifty rupees. Application for registration is to be applied to the authorized officer appointed on the board’s behalf.
Difference between BOCW Act, 1996 and Factories Act, 1948
According to Section 2 (e) of the BOCW Act, any labourer who may be skilled may have some or zero-knowledge; who can be hired for supervision, bookkeeping, mechanical or physical labour is interpreted as a building worker and has rights that fall under this act.
As per Section 2(d) of the act, a building work labourer is an unskilled labourer who is open to working in infrastructure construction works such as the construction, alteration, repairs, maintenance or demolition – of or, in relation to, buildings; streets; roads; railways; tramways, artifields, water system, seepage, bank, and route works, flood damage control such as stormwater waste works, generating, transmitting and distributing of energy, waterworks such as stations for circulation of water), oil and gas establishments, electric lines, radio, TV, phone, broadcast and abroad transmissions, dams, canals, conduits, burrows, viaducts, aqueducts, pipelines, towers, cooling towers, transmission towers, etc., or similar related work which can be implied through the government’s behalf via official notices which exclude infrastructure and building construction work in relation to Factories Act, 1948 and Mines Act, 1952.
The definition is visible as according to Section 2 (l) of Factories Act, 1948, the definition of a worker is quite versatile, including labourers employed for the manufacturing process, maintenance of machinery, or any work-related work to the manufacturing of goods and services. According to the Factories Act, 1948, a “worker” is not defined as a labourer working for infrastructure or building construction work. Hence, for such labourers, the BOCW Scheme and Act was a necessity.
The Central Government enacted the BOCW Scheme while giving the freedom to the State Government to set ethical procedures to help the unprivileged unskilled labourers, giving that the laws set in the BOCW Act, 1996 are not violated. Nevertheless, there were still loopholes, such as the confusion of which act to be applicable for construction labourers working in factories. In the case of Lanco Anpara Power Ltd. V State of UP and Ors, 18th October 2016, The Supreme Court passed the judgement where The Court held that all the workers working on construction should be entitled to laws applicable through the BOCW Act,1996. Although there is still concern regarding the definition of “employer” according to the act, it is applicable to both contractors and the owners. The Central Government is working on broadening the ambit of the act and making amendments so that the respective State Governments can implement laws that would be in the interest of unskilled labourers.