Forced leave without pay – What is in it for IT Employees?

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series I, IT employee named Shyam Sundar

We have seen Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts, slammed companies that laid of a large number of people. In his statement Tata mentioned, ““The initial tendency was to lay off people, but is that going to solve your problem? That’s a knee-jerk reaction [of] traditional workplace, to lay off staff because the business is gone,” he said.

As part of NDLF, we thank Tata to stand behind employees in this crisis situation. Every person in India is affected by the pandemic and companies pouring oil on fire in name of furlough is definitely not accepted at this stage of pandemic. This statement from Tata has important message to all other companies in IT industry as Tata is the most respected person in the business world and definitely his statement has a message to other companies.

We have seen another news in Times of India about the furlough happening in Wipro. Highlights of the news reported by Times of India as part of the news is as follows:

1) Wipro has introduced an “extended bench period” where identified employees will be on loss of pay for 3 months

2) As we see in Tata technologies, Wipro will be offering Medical coverage and Gratuity to employee placed in bench

3) Times of India reported the total employees impacted as part of this policy is upto 7% of total employee strength in Wipro

4) Times of India also reported that if employee refused to choose this policy, company will initiate disciplinary action including termination

5) People who rated low in the company appraisal process are released to bench

As per the news, Times of India asked about this new policy and Wipro responded that ““The allocation and deployment policy for India covers those who are not engaged in assignments and have remind unbilled for an extended period. The policy is applied upon receiving the employee’s consent and will extend for three months”

We will have closer look on what the above statements mean. As per company statement, this policy is imposed only after getting the consent from the employees. There is a famous scene in a Tamil movie called Vellai illa Pattathari (VIP). In that movie, all the workers are attacked by factory owner group. Reporters asked hero of the movie on how injury happen to all the workers. The hero replied sarcastically that all of the workers fell down on their own simultaneously and got injured. The answer of Wipro is related to the statement of that movie.

Employees are in bench for longer period and many are rated low as part of appraisal statement. If HR officer called and give only 2 option stating either to accept this policy on going on loss of pay or company will terminate, naturally employees are left with no other choice. So naturally employee to buy time are forced to accept leave policy forced by the company. So Wipro saying that this policy is imposed only based on getting consent from the employee is completely baseless.

Wipro chairman, Rishad Premji, as part of company 74th AGM, reported that company have no plans to layoff any employees due to pandemic. As part of Times of India, Wipro asked up to 7% of employees to go on leave as part of this new extended bench policy. This translate to nearly 12000 employees of Wipro overall employee strength. If Wipro is forcing 12000 employees to go on loss of pay as part of this policy, what is the relation this have as part of statement of Mr Rishad Premji.

Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji are the pillars of Indian IT industry. They played vital role in building IT industry in our country. They are the one of the very few architects who played important role in shaping Indian economy. They did not only fulfil their own dreams but they are instrumental in building dreams of various young citizens of India. They are instrumental in changing the life style of various people. They are the mentors, role model, Gurus of many young people in India.

They gain the respect not only based on business they develop but for their care for the society. Even during the pandemic, Tata has given many of the hotel branches for Covid care activities. Premji has donated 1125 crores for Covid relief activities

When there are more layoffs in the year 2017, Infosys Narayana Murthy also slammed layoff activities. He openly criticizes that IT industry while imposing Job cuts, IT needs capitalism in mind and socialism in heart.

Mr Premji is the country number 1 philanthropist who donates majority of the shares to charity. He is awarded the highest honor of Padma Vibushan for not only his contribution to IT industry, but for his various activities for the development of the country

Azim Premji, has announced his retirement on Jul 30, 2019 after having led the company for 53 years. He is currently serving on the board of Wipro as non-executive director and founder chairman.

As part of NDLF, we expect Mr Premji to show his solidarity in favor of employees like Narayana Murthy and Ratan Tata. Unlike Tata group and Infosys, Premji has more share value in the company and he has the authority to voice his concerns strongly compare to rest of the others. We definitely feel Mr Premji has the responsibility to do to safeguard his employees during this crisis situation.

As I mentioned, this policy of the company is the most dangerous one and let we see why this policy is so dangerous:

1) Currently this policy is imposed for people who are in bench for more than 2 months in the company. The company can change this policy of bench period to 1 month or 15 days or even from very first day of being in bench.

2) If an employee is billed to customer and customer pay say 10 dollars, company pay 4 dollars to the employee as salary. If employee is not billed, employee will not get anything. This concept is like “Your money, My Money”, “My Money, My money”

3) We have seen in large companies as part of holiday shut down policy, nearly 20% of the employees overall are affected. As part of this policy, even employee with 1-2 years of experience moved to bench, they will not get salary. This way, this is the most dangerous policy.

4) The way people getting terminated are evolving in IT companies like Darwin theory. This policy is the most dangerous as company don’t terminate employees but has an option to keep employees on indefinite free pool without paying any salary

5) Government are imposing proposals for fixed term employment. This is more dangerous than fixed term employment as at least in fixed term employment, workers know how long they will be in project. By this method, company can move any employee to bench as per their own wish and stop their salary

We, IT employees, show our protest in social medias against various issues. This policy change is going to affect our IT field as a whole. If we allow this policy to be imposed, next generation IT workman cannot able to work safely in this industry. It is our responsibility of IT employees to show our condemn against such unethical practice happening in IT industry

I know people supporting companies will still feel the act of companies are correct. They may say companies has to survive first to meet the future growth and to ensure the survival, these activities of company is essential at this stage.

My answer to those people is pandemic situation will definitely have an impact on business and I will definitely say companies should follow Law of Land in this scenario. Our Indian law is formulated under leadership of Great man Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Our law gives solution for all such issues considering both aspects of employer and employee.

There is definite situation rises where employer also faced various issues like pandemic, war, nonavailability of raw materials, lock out issues. Industrial Dispute Act formulated in 1947 is the master legal document which provide solution for all such problems of employer and employee. The main problem is IT companies are not following those law books.

In my personal front, I was rated higher more than 80% of my appraisal, well versed with various technologies, lead a team of up to 100 people, worked at onsite countries like USA, UK, UAE, Switzerland, South Africa and Malaysia and all those experience helped me only to save my first 20 years of my IT career. The last 3.5 years of my IT career is saved by the awareness of law and my current fight against illegal termination is also based on the knowledge gained on law. IT employees, not only focusing on upgrading digital expertise and skills at par with current trend, they should get awareness of the law.

We will see various legal sections formulated by Indian law in the coming parts in detail and I am sure this series will be one stop guide for beginners to gain the knowledge of Law. We will talk in detail on what rules employers has to follow during pandemic in the next part and I request readers to google Section 25C, 25F, 25G of Industrial dispute act in the meantime as their homework for this part

  • Shyam Sundar
Series Navigation<< IT Companies turning into Unorganized sector – What is in for employees?Layoff Legal Rules – How IT companies ignore Land of Law with their corporate power? >>

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