ESTATE LABOUR (INDIAN) ORDINANCE

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

2. Construction.

3. Interpretation.

4. Certain provisions of the Service Contracts Ordinance extended to labourers and employers and to acts and defaults of third parties in respect of or in relation to them.

5. Verbal and implied contracts of service.

6. Payment of wages.

7. Written contracts.

8. Wages made a first charge on estate.

9. Wages may be sued for in Primary Court whatever the amount.

10. Labourers may sue jointly in one suit.

11. Proprietor of estate to be party defendant.

12. Party sued may claim set-off.

13. Right of mortgagee.

14. Proprietor may obtain judgment in same suit against others who have actually employed the labourers.

15. Procedure.

16. Returns.

17. Offences, penalty, evidence.

18. Money paid or promised for inducing labourer to quit service not recoverable.

19. Immunity of labourers from arrest on civil process.

20. Notice to determine contract of service.

21. Declarations that labourers have been duly paid.

22. Duty of employer to prepare and keep a complete register of labourers.

23. Duty of employer to issue discharge certificate and penalty for default.

24. Separate room to be provided for each married couple living in the "lines” of an estate.

25. Forms to be sent to labourer's employer by Emigration Commissioner.

26. Offences in relation to discharge tickets and registers of labourers.

27. Power to alter forms.

28. Commissioner or person authorised by him may institute proceedings.

SCHEDULES

13 of 1889,

7 of 1890,

9 of 1909,

43 of 1921,

27 of 1927,

6 of 1932,

15 of 1941,

27 of 1941,

41 of 1943,

22 of 1945,

22 of 1955,

14 of 1978.

AN ORDINANCE to amend and consolidate the law relating to Indian Labourers employed on Sri Lanka Estates.

[Date of Commencement: 31st October, 1889]

1. Short title.

This Ordinance may be cited as the Estate Labour (Indian) Ordinance.

2. Construction.

This Ordinance shall, so far as is consistent with the tenor thereof, be read and construed as one with the Service Contracts Ordinance.

3. Interpretation.

For the purposes of this Ordinance—

"check-roll” means the record kept on an estate showing the work done by labourers employed under a monthly contract of service with the estate, the wages earned by them, the advances made, and the monthly balance of wages due to them;

"employer” means the chief person for the time being in charge of an estate, and includes the superintendent;

"estate” means any land in which labourers are employed, and of which ten acres or more are actually cultivated;

"labourer” means any labourer and kangany (commonly known as Indian coolies) whose name is borne on an estate register, and includes the Muslims commonly known as "Tulicans”;

"register” means the book required to be kept by section 22;

"spouse”, when used with reference to a labourer, includes the person regarded according to custom as the wife of a male labourer or the husband of a female labourer;

"wages” means all sums which may be due to a labourer for and in respect of the work and labour done by him on an estate and shall include sums commonly known as kangany's ‘head' or ‘pence' money.

4. Certain provisions of the Service Contracts Ordinance extended to labourers and employers and to acts and defaults of third parties in respect of or in relation to them.

Except as in this Ordinance otherwise expressly provided, all the provisions, regulations, pains, penalties, forfeitures, and abatements enacted in the Service Contracts Ordinance, so far as they are applicable to monthly servants or their employers, shall extend, and be construed, deemed, and adjudged to extend, to labourers and employers under this Ordinance; and every act or default, by whomsoever done or committed, which is made punishable by the Service Contracts Ordinance, if made or committed in respect of, or in relation to, monthly servants or their employers, shall in the like manner be punishable if done or committed in respect of, or in relation to, labourers and employers under this Ordinance.

5. Verbal and implied contracts of service.

Every labourer who shall enter into a verbal contract with the employer for the performance of work not usually done by the day or by the job or by the journey, or whose name shall be entered in the check-roll of an estate and who shall have received from the employer any advance of wages in respect of which the employer is authorised, by or under the provisions of any other written law, to make a deduction from the wages of the labourer, shall, unless he has otherwise expressly stipulated, and notwithstanding that his wages shall be payable at a daily rate, be deemed and taken in law to have entered into a contract of hire and service for the period of one month, to be renewable from month to month; and every such contract shall be deemed and taken in law to be so renewed unless one month's previous notice be given by either party to the other of his intention to determine the same at the expiry of one month from the day of giving such notice.

6. Payment of wages.

(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to pay all wages agreed upon or earned by the labourers in his employment in any month on or before the tenth day of the following month.

(2) Where wages are payable at a daily rate, the monthly wages shall be computed according to the number of days on which the labourer was able and willing to work and actually demanded employment, whether the employer was or was not able to provide him with work :

Provided that an employer shall not be bound to provide for any labourer more than six days' work in the week.

(3) When the contract of service is determined by one month's previous notice or warning by the labourer to the employer or by the employer to the labourer, or when any such contract is determined by the employer in accordance with the provisions of section 23 (1), all wages due to the labourer for his period of service shall be paid in full to him by the employer on the day when such contract is so determined as aforesaid.

(4) In computing the amount of wages due to a labourer for any period of service, the labourer shall be debited, in accordance with the provisions of any other written law in force in that behalf, with any deduction, authorised to be made from his wages by or under the provisions of such other law.

(5) The wages of a labourer shall not be deemed to have been duly paid, as required by this section, unless the full amount thereof, subject only to the deductions allowed by subsection (4), has been paid directly to the labourer himself.

(6) Where, owing to the absence of any labourer or to any other unavoidable cause, it has not been possible to pay him his wages within the time limited by this section, the employer may retain the sum due to such labourer and shall thereafter pay it to him at the earliest possible opportunity.

(7) Any employer who fails to pay the wages of any labourers in his employment within the period limited by subsection (1) or subsection (3), shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to a fine which may extend to fifty rupees on a first conviction, and to two hundred rupees on a second or subsequent conviction. If any fine imposed under this section is not paid within twenty-one days of the date when the same is imposed, the Government Agent* may recover the amount thereof in the manner provided in Chapter V of the Medical Wants Ordinance.(See section 4 of the Transfer of Powers (Divisional Secretaries) Act, No.58 of 1992.)

7. Written contracts.

No contract of service entered into with a labourer for any period of time longer than one month shall be valid in law unless the same is executed in all respects in strict accordance with the requirements of the Service Contracts Ordinance as to written contracts; and all written contracts between labourers and employers shall be subject to, and governed by, the provisions of the said Ordinance relating to written contracts.

8. Wages made a first charge on estate.

Labourers employed on an estate shall, anything in the Prescription Ordinance to the contrary notwithstanding have in respect of their wages, whatever the period for which such wages may be due, but not exceeding the sum of forty rupees earned by each labourer, a first charge upon such estate, and such first charge shall have priority over all claims for rents dues, or otherwise by any lessors, mortgagees, judgment, execution, or other creditors, or by any other persons whatever; and such first charge may be enforced by suit or by claim if instituted or preferred within three months of the last day of the period in respect of which such wages are claimed.

9. Wages may be sued for in Primary Court whatever the amount.

The wages due to any labourer or labourers, whatever may be the amount claimed, shall be sued for in a Primary Court having in other respects jurisdiction in that behalf.

10. Labourers may sue jointly in one suit.

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