Whether sickness leave can be claimed when ESI Act is applicable under Indian employment laws.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in The Hindustan Times Ltd., New Delhi V/s Their Workmen, decided on 14.12.1962 that availability of sickness benefit under ESI Act is not a bar for awarding sick leave. The Court considered the beneficial nature of the employment law, the ESI Act and opined that ESI coverage had little to do with giving a worker sick leave.

The judgement stated that –

“…It is difficult to see however how the benefit that the workmen will get under this Act can affect the question of sickness leave being provided for the workmen. This Act it has to be noticed does not provide for any leave to the workmen on the ground of sickness…”

Further, the Hon’ble Court stated that, “…It appears to us clear however that in providing for periodical payments to an insured worker in case of sickness (sickness benefit) or for medical treatment or attendance to him or the members of his family, the legislature did not intend to substitute any of these benefits for the workmen’s right to get leave on full pay on the ground of sickness.”

The judgement, finally, after perusal of the leave rules of the concerned establishment came to the conclusion that ESI coverage, although it exists for the benefit of the workman has no relation to sick leaves.