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The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946

The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act was enacted in 1946. Prior to the passing of this enactment, conditions of employment in several industrial establishments were governed by contracts between the employers and their employees. Sometimes the said conditions were reduced to writing. But in many cases they were not reduced to writing and were governed by oral agreements. 'In many cases the conditions of service were not well-defined and there was ambiguity or doubt in regard to their nature and scope. That is why the Legislature took the view that in regard to industrial establishments to which the Act applies, the conditions of employment subject to which Industrial labour is employed should be well-defined and precisely know to both the parties. With this object, the Act has made relevant provisions of making standing orders which, after they are certified, constitute the statutory terms of employment between the industrial establishments in question and their employees.

In B.R.P.S Parishad Vs. Indian Oil Corporation (1990), the court held that the Standing Orders Act was enacted to define the sufficient precision the conditions of employment for workers employed in industrial establishment and to make the same known to them. The object of the Act was to have uniform Standing Orders in respect of the matters enumerated in the Shedule to the Act regardless of the time of their appointment

In Management Shahadaras Light Railway Co. Vs. S.S.Railway Workers Union, (1969 ) , it was observed that the object of the standing Orders is to make it clear to both the parties on what terms and conditions the workmen are offering to work and the employer is offering to engage them. This Act requires the employers to define the conditions of service in their establishments and to reduce them to writing and to get them compulsorily certified with a view to avoid unnecessary industrial disputes.

In Salem Erode Electricity Distribution Company (Pvt) Ltd v. Employees Union, (1966), it was observed that the object of the Act is to regulate the conditions of recruitments discharge, disciplinary action, holidays etc., of the workers employed in industrial undertakings. The Act has also introduced uniformity of terms and conditions of employment in respect of workmen belonging to the same category and discharging the same or similar work in an industrial establishment.

In Agra Electrical supply Coe v. Alladin, (1970 ), the Supreme Court held that once the standing Orders come into force, they bind all those presently in the employment of the concerned establishment as well as those who are appointed thereafter. Thus the retirement of employee under Order 32 which fixed the age of superannuation at 55 years is valid although the employees were appointed long before the Standing Orders were certified.

In Avery India Ltd v. Second Industrial Tribunal, West Bengal (1972) , it was held that provision as to the age of retirement in the standing orders of an establishment would apply to all employees irrespective of whether they entered into service prior to or subsequent to the coming into force of the standing orders and even though there was no such provision for retirement in the past.

The Act extends to the whole of India. It applies to every industrial establishment wherein one hundred or more workmen are employed.

The appropriate Government may also, after giving not less than two months’ notice of its intention so to do, by notification in the Official Gazette, apply the provisions of the Act to any industrial establishment employing such number of persons less than one hundred as may be specified in the notification.

In Balakrishna Pillai and others ve Anant Engg. Works (Pvt) Ltd, (1975) it was held that once the Act becomes applicable to an industrial establishment it does not cease to apply on account of fall in the number of workmen in that establishment below one hundred.

Define Standing Orders

Section 2(g) defines ‘Standing Orders’,

The term ‘standing orders’ means rules relating to matters set out in the Schedule to the Act.

The Schedule to the Act enumerates matters to be provided in Standing Orders. They are the following.

  1. Classification of workmen, e.g., whether permanent, temporary apprentices, probationers, or badlis.
  2. Manner of intimating to workmen periods and hours of work, holidays, pay days and wage rates.
  3. Shift workings
  4. Attendance and late coming.
  5. Conditions of, procedure in applying for, and the authority which may grant leave and holidays.
  6. Requirement to enter premises by certain gate, and liability to search.
  7. Closing and re-opening of sections of the industrial establishments, temporary stoppages of work and the rights and liabilities of the employer and workmen arising therefrom.
  8. Termination of employment, and the notice thereof to be given by employer and workmen.
  9. Suspension or dismissal for misconduct and act or omission which constitute misconduct.
  10. Means of redress for workmen against unfair treatment or wrongful exaction by the employer or his agents or servants.
  11. Any other matter which may be prescribed

An employer is allowed to prepare a standing order on the above matters.

In Management, SS Railway Co. . v. SS. Railway Workers the Court observed that the Act being a beneficent piece of legislation, it will not be improper to include certain matters not enumerated in the schedule of the Act.

Submission, Certification, Modification etc., of Standing Orders

The employer shall submit to the Certifying Officer (Additional Labour Commissioner for whole State of Kerala and Deputy Labour Commissioners for districts) five copies of the draft standing orders proposed by him for adoption in his industrial establishment ( Sec. 3 (1)) Such a draft Standing Order is to be submitted within 6 months from the date on which this Act becomes applicable to an Industrial Establishment,

Such draft standing order shall cover every matter set out in the Schedule to the Act which may be applicable to the industrial establishment where model standing orders have been prescribed. The standing orders shall be, so far as is practicable, in conformity with such model.

The draft standing orders submitted under Sec. 3 shall be accompanied by a statement giving the following particulars of the workmen employed in the industrial establishment,

  1. Total Number of workmen employment
  2. Number of permanent workmen
  3. Number of temporary workmen
  4. Number badlis or substitutes
  5. Number of probationers
  6. Number of apprentices
  7. Name of the Trade Union or Trade Unions. Of any, to which the workmen belong.

On receipt of the draft standing orders, the Certifying Officer Shall forward a copy to the Trade Union of the workmen. If there is no trade union a copy of the draft standing order shall be forwarded to the workmen. He should also send a notice requiring objections to the draft standing orders. The objections, may be submitted to him within fifteen days from the receipt of the notice

The Certifying Officer shall give an opportunity to hear the employer and the representatives of workmen. He shall, and the trade union or thereafter decide whether any addition or modification to be made in the draft standing order in order to render it certifiable under the Act and shall make an order in writing.

The Certifying Officer shall thereupon certify the draft standing orders with the modifications. He shall send, within seven days, copies of the certified standing orders to the employer. Trade Union or the representatives of the workmen.


Any employer, workman, trade union or other prescribed representatives of the workmen aggrieved by the order of the certifying Officer may, within thirty days from the date inwhich copies are sent appeal to the appellate authority.

The appellate authority shall by order in writing confirm the standing order either in the form certified by the Certifying Officer or after amending the said standing orders by making modifications and additions render it certifiable under the Act. The decision of the appellate authority shall be final.

The appellate authority shall within seven days of its order, send copies thereof to the Certifying Officer, to the employer and to the trade union or other prescribed representatives of the workmen. The order shall be accompanies by copies of the standing order as certified by it

In Rohtak & Hissar Electric Supply Co. v. State of U.P, ( 1966) , the employees of the company had no union to represent them in the preparation and certification of standing orders. The labour department conducted an election in the industry to elect three representatives. The company prepared the draft standing orders in consultation with these representatives. The Certifying Officer, after examining the fairness and reasonableness of the provisions, made several changes in conformity with model standing orders and certified them. The company appealed. It contended that the certifying officer had no power to modify the agreed draft submitted by the two parties. The Industrial Tribunal rejected the appeal. The company obtained special leave from the Supreme Court.

The Court observed thus: the consent of the employees is, no doubt, a relevant factor, which the certifying authorities may bear in mind in dealing with the question as to the fairness or reasonableness of the said orders. If both the parties agree that certain standing order submitted for certification are fair and reasonable, that no doubt, is a consideration which the appropriate authority must take into account but, the appropriate authority cannot be denied the jurisdiction to deal with the matter according to its own judgement. It is for the appropriate authority to decide whether a particular standing order is fair or reasonable or not. Sometimes, the employees may not be organised enough to resist the pressure of the employer. The present cause itself is an illustration in point. When the standing orders were drafted by the appellant and submitted for certification, it was found that the employees of the appellant had no union of their own; and so, three representatives 'were elected by the employees at the instance of the Labour Department. 'The fact that the employees' representatives have not appeared before this court also shows that they are either not organised enough, or have not the financial capacity to take steps to engage lawyers to appear before this Court. Therefore, we do not think that the consent of the employees, can have a decisive significance in certification proceedings.

Date of operation of Standing Orders

Standing Orders shall, unless an appeal is preferred, come into operation on the expiry of thirty days from the date on which authenticated copies thereof are sent.If an appeal is preferred, standing orders shall come into operation on the expiry of seven days from the date on which copies of the order of the appellate authority are send.

Register of Standing orders

A copy of all Standing orders as finally certified shall be filed by the certifying officer in a register maintained for this purpose. The certifying officer shall furnish a copy of the Standing Orders to any person applying for it on payment of the prescribed fee.

Posting of Standing Orders

The Contents and the text of the Standing orders as finally certified under the Act shall be prominently posted by the employer in English and in the language understood by the majority of his workmen. The Standing orders are to be posted-

  1. either on special boards maintained for the purpose, or
  2. at or near the entrance through which the majority of the workmen enter; and
  3. in all departments where the workmen are employed.

Duration and Modification

Standing orders finally certified under the Act shall not except on agreement between the employer and the workmen or a Trade Union or other representative body of the workmen, be liable to modifications until the expiry of six months from the date on which the Standing orders or the last modification thereof came into operation.

Subject to the provisions stated above, any employer or workman or a Trade Union or other representative body of the workmen, may apply to the Certifying Officer to have the Standing orders modified.

Such an application shall be accompanied by five copies of the modifications proposed to be made. If modifications are proposed to be made by agreement between the employer and the workmen or a Trade Union or other representative body of the workmen, a certified copy of that agreement shall be filed along with the application

The provisions of the Act for the certification of draft standing orders shall apply in respect of an application for modification,

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