As plantations are usually located in remote and hilly areas wherein the initial stages facilities were very few where diseases like Malaria were epidemic and where workers had to be tot from distant locations to work in the plantations, the law had to provide not merely welfare within the workplace as in Factories Act or Mines Act, but also provide for welfare outside the workplace. So it is that the Plantations Labour Act, 1951 provides for residential accommodation, medical facilities, and educational and recreational facilities for workers, all at the cost of the employer. The Plantations Labour Act was passed by Parliament in 1951. The Act covered all persons employed in tea, coffee, rubber, cinchona, and cardamom plantations. The 1960 Amendment also included small units of Plantations within its coverage. The Original Act limited the duration of work to 54 hours a week for adults and 40 hours a week for adolescents and children. It required a rest Intervals of at least half an hour for work exceeding five hours and spread over 12 hours. The Act prohibits the employment of women and children during the night.
It provides for a day of rest in a week. The Act also provides for annual leave with pay at the rate of one day for every 20 days for adults and one day for every 15 days for young persons. Planters are required to provide housing for every worker and his family residing within the plantation, provide drinking water, separate urinals, and latrines for men and women, medical facilities including maternity benefits, canteens (where 150 or more persons are employed), creches (where 50 or more women workers are employed), recreational and educational facilities.
A survey of the provisions of the Plantations Labour Act reveals that much improvement has been made since Independence. After a thorough investigation of the industrial situation and industrial law, the National Commission on Labour submitted its recommendations in 1969. Regarding the plantation industry, it recommended the following:
i)The prescribed hours of work be reduced from 54 to 48.
ii) Houses be provided for such plantation workers who do not reside within 5 kilometres from the periphery of the estate but who wish to be accommodated on the estate.
iii) Every employee should be allowed 3 national and 5 festival holidays in a calendar year.
iv)) The limit to 50 women workers, which makes the provision of crèche obligatory on plantation should be reduced in accordance with the local conditions or to 20.
v) The State Governments should prescribe a list of drugs, medicines and equipment for the local hospitals in order to make sure that they are properly equipped
vi) Suitable arrangements need to be made for the detection and treatment of occupational diseases among plantation workers.
vii) Priority should also be given to family planning programmes
viii) State Government should ensure that facilities for the education of children of plantation workers are provided by the employers.