Doctrine of Notional Extension under the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923


There is no problem in
detecting that the accident occurred in the course of employment when a workman
is injured in the working place and in the working hour and doing his duty. The
problem arises when these elements do not coincide together. But a workmen if
injured just near the work premises or just before joining the work or in the
way to work problem arises. To address this kind of problem and giving some
kind of relief to the workmen the theory of notional extension evolved.

“As a rule, the
employment of a workman does not commence until he has reached the place of
employment and does not continue when he has left the place of employment, the
journey to and from the place of employment being excluded. It is now
well-settled, however, that this is subject to the theory of notional extension
of the employer’s premises so as to include an area which the workman passes
and repasses in going to and in leaving the actual place of work. There may be
some reasonable extension in both time and place and a workman may be regarded
as in the course of his employment even though he had not reached or had left
his employer’s premises. The facts and circumstances of each case will have to
be examined very carefully in order to determine whether the accident arose out
of and in the course of the employment of a workman, keeping in view at all
times this theory of notional extension.” 

Wider interpretation of

Court has given a wider
and popular meaning of “duty” to expand the scope of this section. The court
also talks about the service contract to determine which can be come under the
preview of this section. Justice Cozens-Hardy M. R. said “……… it was an implied
term of the contract of service that these trains should be provided by the
employers, and that the colliers should have the right, if not the obligation,
to travel to and from without charge.” In the next case the court has
interpreted the term “duty” in stricter sense.

In Weaver v. Tredegar Iron Coal Co. 
House of Lords after examining a large number of authorities given a wider
meaning of “duty” but did not negated the duty test.In this case lord Atkin
said that there can be no doubt that the course of employment cannot be limited
to the time or place of the specific work which the workman is employed to do.
It does not necessarily end when the “‘down tools” signal is given, or when the
actual workshop where he is working is left. In other words, the employment may
run on its course by its own momentum beyond the actual stopping place. There
may be some reasonable extension in both time and space.” Lord Porter
further said that if an accident occurs while coming to the workplace or
leaving the place can be out of and in the course of employment if he is bound
by the way he proceed under the terms of the contract of service express or
implied. Here duty test was confirmed.

Expanding the preview
of Service Contract:

In St. Helens Colliery Co Ltd v.
 the court said that the injury did not occur in the
course of employment because the employee was not bound or obliged to travel by
that special train and he could have taken other transport. If he were bound by
the service contract to travel by that train then it would have been in the
course of employment (Lord Buckmaster). It was also added that if the place of
work is like that there is no alternative means of transport other than the
transport given by the employer then it can be concluded that there is an
implied term in the service contract to use that transport (Lord
Atkinson). The same view was taken in Mackenzie v. I.M. Issak says
that a workman in a colliery is not in course of his employment while using the
transport of the employer if he is not bound by the terms of the contract to
travel by that transport.

There was a particular
situation where employee has to take bus service to reach his workplace from
home and vise versa. It was necessary for doing his duty efficiently and
punctually which was a condition under his service  . So, travelling
in that bus was an implied condition to his duty. It was also said that this
doctrine was developed to cover the factory, workshops and harbors but it can
be applied in this kind of situation also. Compensation was granted holding
that the accident arising in the course of employment. Though the court said
what would be the indicator that when the work starts and ceases that depends
on case to case basis.

In Union of India v. Mrs . Noor
 a railway gangman was ordered by his employer to go to
another place for cleaning and in the way from one place to another accident
happened. Justice Sukla observed that the accident has occurred in the duty
hour and when he was going to do his duty on behalf of his employer and he
concluded that the accident has occurred in the course of his employment.

Public Place and this

There are some situations
where this doctrine does not apply. When a workman is on the public road or
public place and not there for fulfilling the obligation and his work does not
make necessary to be there. The proximity of the work premises and spot of
accident become immaterial. The notional extension of the place of work cease
when workman come to a public road. There were some clarification made in
the next case in this matter.

In Saurashtra Salt Manufacturing Co.
v. Valu Raja
 Justice Jafer Imam said that,

“It is well settled
that when a workman is on a public road or a public place or on a public
transport he is there as any other member of the public and is not there in the
course of his employment unless the very nature of his employment makes it
necessary for him to be there. A workman is not in the course of his employment
from the moment he leaves his home and is on his way to his work. He certainly
is in the course of his employment if he reaches the place of work or a point
or an area which comes within the theory of notional extension, outside of
which the employer
is not liable to pay
compensation for any accident happening to him.”