Appraisal and HR Threats – Don’t be Afraid

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series IT Life

Shyam Sundar who is part of NDLF IT union is having around 20 years of experience in information technology. He is writing an article series on “IT employees Life Fun or Problems” to create awareness about various issues faced by IT employees. This write up is continuation of Part 6.

a point to managers and HR who are evaluating employees in the appraisal process

Now, annual appraisal is coming in the next 1-2 months in most of the organizations. It might have already started in some organizations. As we are aware of, annual appraisal is a tool to evaluate employee performance and reskill/train them based on needs. In addition, promotion and increments are based on the ratings given as part of appraisal.

I want to stress a point to managers and HR who are evaluating employees in the appraisal process. In the last one year, we talked with more than 300 people who were affected by terminations. I already mentioned the case of 2 people in my previous article. I want to bring to your notice for some more people with whom we have interacted:

  1. Keerthana (name changed) lost her job. Currently she is separated from her husband living with her 4th standard school going kid. She used to draw a salary of Rs 75, 000 when she was working in IT. She sold her flat that she purchased and cleared all her loan. She joined the school where her son is studying as a teacher earning Rs 15,000 per month. She is living with her parents, leading her life with 1/5th of her earlier salary.
  2. Raju (name changed) has a medically dependent child. Raju has to earn for his son medical treatments. He filed petition under section 2k of ID Act and trying hard to retain in his job.
  3. Prathibha (name changed) is 5 months pregnant. She was asked to resign, when she mentioned that she is 5 months pregnant. HR had said, “anyhow you need to take leave after 3 months. It is better if you can resign immediately”. She is fighting against this effort by HR to illegally terminate her service.
  4. Rakesh works in IT for just 3 years. He joined the leading IT company with a lot of dreams as direct college recruit. Now he is targeted by HR as a part of termination list. All employees so targeted are placed in bench indefinitely without giving any projects
  5. Ruba has 1 year experience. She joined a leading IT Company very recently. She is asked to relocate to Pune from her base location Chennai. When she refused, she was threatened by HR that if she did not relocate, she should submit resignation. Ruba submitted her resignation and looking for job now.
  6. Sundaram is having 2 year experience and he is waiting for his promotion. He requested a client with whom he is closely working for positive feedback to help his progress. This appreciation request is escalated by client. Sundaram is threatened that asking for appreciation is against company policy and a violation. He was asked to submit resignation

As I mentioned earlier, job loss can lead to extreme reactions such as of suicide as in the case of Durga Prasad. It has direct impact on kids in the family of the concerned employee, dependent old parents, medically dependent family members and in the employee’s life overall.

‘I guess our Performance Appraisal system is a little bit ‘Old School’.’

So senior managers and HR managers involved in the appraisal process should consider all these factors before using appraisal as a tool to terminate someone’s career. It is a matter of extra profit for the management but in the employee perspective it is their livelihood.

You need to understand that employees are not resources as we are called in IT industry, but flesh and blood humans with dependent families. Extracting all the milk while they are working and sending them to slaughter in the end is not correct. So before taking this hard decision, put yourselves in affected employee shoes.

Now, to fellow employees.

Termination threat is painful but don’t react immediately/don’t panic and don’t lose your confidence when faced with such prospect. Please recall the start of your career and consider where you have reached now. If we could manage to reach here from our initial stage of our career, with experience gained, we can handle this crisis situation even better.

In order to fight unfair and illegal terminations, build your legal knowledge and joining NDLF IT union.

Generally, IT/ITES companies ask employees to leave :

  1. Based on ratings provided by appraisal
  2. Based on compliance issues
  3. No reason and simply asking employee to leave

We will start from the last. Recently, some companies asked their employees to leave without citing any reason. In this case, as much as possible do not sign any documents. If the company provided any settlement by depositing severance packages in the bank account, write a mail back to HR team asking reasons for the deposit, and indicating conditional acceptance of the amount to be set off against future salaries/claims.

Organization can terminate employee based on any breach which amounts to violation of company policy. The possible violations are employee absconded from work for a long time, malpractices in claims submitted even after repeated warnings, sexual harassment complaint, causing damages to company properties or reputation etc.

Generally employees should be careful to adhere to all company policies and ensure zero violation in any of the compliance issues.

There is also a possibility of some companies misusing these clauses to take action against targeted employees. For any such alleged violation, the company has to issue a warning letter to the employees, issue show cause notice, form a review committee, and take action based on the committee recommendation only.

Finally, the most common case of companies targeting employee exit is based on the appraisal rating provided. Legally it is not correct for any company to retrench an employee based on appraisal rating. That is the main reason for all companies asking their employee to submit self-resignation.

There are many complaints among IT employees about appraisal system and most common concern among IT employees are:

  1. Appraisal system is not fair, not transparent, not scientific.
  2. Employees are targeted based on company needs. Company fixes target of bottom 5 and bottom 10. There is a high possibility of companies targeting senior employees to reduce operations cost. Thus there is a planned effort to bring many senior employees under bottom category.
  3. Ratings are based on individual manager’s decision and there is a high chance that people who are not close to their bosses are affected with bad ratings.

It is not possible to get rid of the appraisal system immediately as this method is followed across all IT companies for many years. So, even while fighting the system, it is better to be prepared to safeguard ourselves in the current appraisal process.

collect and save all your contributions, your previous recognitions/rewards and your previous appraisal ratings

There is a high chance that organization will hide all your previous appraisal ratings. So take atmost effort to collect and save all your contributions, your previous recognitions/rewards and your previous appraisal ratings personally. This will help you in future if you take up a legal fight.

In all your communications regarding appraisal, keep not only the rating manager, but also include other managers with whom you worked.

In recent times, companies are not giving time to employee and ask them to leave on the same day. As we need to surrender company laptops, all information will be lost and access to company website is not possible. So keeping these documents handy will help.

All IT employees should keep in mind that their managers and HR officers are giving ratings only based on organization demands and having personal grudge on them is definitely wrong. It is very important to handle this situation in a professional manner and avoid any personal conflict during the whole process.

Lastly, a word to senior employees.

senior employees with team members reporting to them should highlight your technical skill contribution while filling the appraisal (photo for illustration purposes only)

There are conflicting interpretation of IT employees rights under law in different states. In states like Tamil Nadu it is made clear and established that Industrial Disputes Act is applicable. In Karnataka, Shops and Establishments Act is used. Employees combining together as a strong union will ensure that in all states all labour laws are applicable to IT/ITES employees.

Moreover, even in states where Industrial Disputes Act is generally recognized as applicable to IT sector, some companies claim that senior employees do not come under workman category (under Industrial Disputes Act). Employees should be aware of this and safeguard ourselves.

As per Industrial Disputes Act, any employee is termed as workman if he/she is skilled and uses technical knowledge in his work. So definitely all IT employees other than very senior management levels are categorized under workman.

To understand the difference between workman and non-workman consider a Mason in construction work. If he just arranges workers to come and do the work he is not a termed as workman. But if he is part of construction work, supervising, guiding and correcting (skilled and technical) the work of labourers, or he/she himself/herself involved in partial construction activities, then they are workmen.

In IT scenario, senior employees with team members reporting to them should highlight your technical skill contribution while filling the appraisal. List down the technical and skilled work which you did in the project.
I hope this article helps. Have a good appraisal period and wish all IT employees very good luck to get good increments and promotions . Kindly forward this article to fellow IT friends to help them to face appraisal related issues better.

– Shyam Sundar

To Read the previous parts

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