Applicability of Kerala Headload Workers Act – When Loading/Unloading is Casual/Incidental to Main work

Kerala Headload Workers Act, 1978, is a classic labour welfare legislation, which may be unique to socially advanced State of Kerala. Applicability of this Act, although may not be of much relevance because of obvious high handedness employed by the headload workers, the subject attains importance in the context of payment of welfare fund contributions and related aspects.

The Kerala High Court recently had the occasion to analyse and lay down the scope and ambit of this enactment in Hotel Raj International, Chengannoor v. Kerala Headload workers welfare board. In that case, the question that arose for court’s consideration was whether the employer who was using his regular employees to unload goods occasionally, requires registration under the Act. It was held that ‘a headload worker is a person who is engaged or employed directly or through a contractor in / for an establishment whether for wages or not for loading or unloading or carrying on head or person or in a trolly any articles or articles in / from or to a vehicle or any place in such establishment and includes persons employed or engaged by any employer or through a contractor provided he is engaged in loading or unloading work. The definition makes it clear that the headload worker contemplated is a person who attends to headload work alone and that the same does not refer to a general worker who attends to headload work also in the course of other duties and responsibilities’.

It was further held that since the work of loading and unloading happening in a bar hotel is only casual/incidental/ or ancillary in nature to the main work, neither the employer nor the employees are required to register their names under the Kerala Headload Workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Scheme, 1983.


About Thomas Geeverghese

Vayaliparambil, Perumbavoor | Advocate, Ernakulam
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