This write up is sent by one of the senior employees in the IT sector. We have added topic headings and additional information related to the topics discussed within square brackets.
Gone are the days when employment is considered to be for life and now it is merely reduced to employment agreements. [Read this also to know about the relative validity of employer contracts and law of the land – Corporate Appointment Letter and Mafia Loan Agreement].
Your employment is yours as long as you are still needed by your employer and you are out on the street the next moment employer no longer needs you. This is the harsh reality of how Indian IT companies work. The cold reality is that almost all employers merely look at you like head / resource or a $ margin for rupee cost. You are a good talent to have as long as they see a potential to make revenue from the skills you have.
Product company or Service Company?
Many of us think, there are differences in terms of IT services companies or Product companies, it takes a while to realize it is just the same wine in different bottles. Service companies deal with many clients and pay less in Indian salary while compensating it for an occasional onsite assignment that could give you a gateway to ditch this country for good. On the other hand the product company deals with just one client and pays you slightly higher to compensate for lack of onsite assignments. End of the day, both entities just look at marketable skill that gets them profits and billable hours. There are of course few more genres, there companies which pay dollar salary to Indian employees, but offer very few such positions and stringent entry criteria.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are a few other IT Services companies, like for instance SenecaGlobal which is a small and medium sized services company based out of Hyderabad. These companies are primarily into services which deal with multiple clients, pay Indian salaries but do not offer onsite opportunities.
Use and Throw
Whichever is the category/nature of the company, the behavior towards employees remains the same. When an employee contributed significantly for the tenure of his/her job and just happen to lose billing from client, the employers spare no time to consider the employee as an overhead.
There are cases when employee temporarily gets demotivated or demoralized, mostly due to the internal work environment of the firm and this causes temporary reduction in productivity. Many a times it is just a matter of time before the employee comes around, becomes normal and productive again. Managers and the employers are impatient to give employees one/two chances or some time-off to get settle down. For them every minute counts as it translates to value for client and earning dollars in return. Unfortunately this is the pathetic situation IT industry in India is at the moment.
Take for instance, the example of SenecaGlobal IT services. The company has let go several people over the years due to performance reasons. Just last year they had to let go nearly 25 people out of a 230 member work force. Most noteworthy of these terminations are 2 out of 8 senior leaders were asked to resign and subsequently when they rejected the offer, the company terminated them on the same day and eventually paid out 2 months of notice period salary. [To know, how this is a clear violation of labour laws, read – Can the management terminate employees whenever it wants? ]. Similarly, the company asked 2 other employees with a tenure of more than 10 years in the same company, and helped building the company from day one to leave.
The small company syndrome
Majority of the smaller companies are in demand for right talent with good expertise and experience. However, joining these companies could put you in trouble as job security is going to be significantly low in these companies. The stability of business in these companies is significantly low, for instance SenecaGlobal lost 5 projects/accounts within a span of 18 months while the addition of new projects and accounts is not happening at the optimism shown by founders. This puts the company under financial stress as the company resorts to HIRE and FIRE as the demand for resources fluctuates significantly on a weekly basis. While HIRE and FIRE is results in significant backlash from employees on social platforms like Glassdoor, as it did in the case of SenecaGlobal, these backlashes are hardly of any impact on the company as they try to manipulate the negative feedback by adding few fake positive reviews to compensate.
For senior positions, just mere 2 months of time-frame to find a new job is almost impossible and even if they do they have to compromise significantly both on compensation and designation/role in their next company. The same company has paid out 6 months’ severance pay in few occasions in the past when they had to let go people, but they did not extend this gesture to senior leaders who desperately needed such provision. It is significantly irresponsible of the employer to let go senior talent they poached by resorting to all recruitment gimmicks and displaced the employees from stable jobs. Merely executing the terms and conditions of an employment contract you sign at the time of joining the company leads to such discriminatory and inconsistent policies. [The employees should look beyond employment contracts to legal rights and collective bargaining to safeguard their interests].
In order to avoid any such hasty decision leading to disruption of your personal life, it is important that the employee carefully goes through each and every term and condition in the contract and tailor it to suit to what is acceptable. Even it means to delay the joining or deny the offer entirely. The time of entry is your right time to negotiate the terms you like as the company is willing to make adjustments as needed to get the right talent on board. Of course, there will be significant resistance but you got to hold your nerve and demand what is right for you. It is advisable that you demand a severance pay clause for 6 months to 1 year of compensation if the company needs to let you go for any reasons whatsoever. [After joining the company and even before that keep yourself updated about legal rights of employees and join together with fellow employees for asserting those rights]
Law breakers and Government complicity
Lack of regulations and enforcement of law is to blame. The governments over a period of time have been showing a blind eye to the problems of employees and admittedly let the employers exploit the poor employment situation in India. They show this policy as needed for creation of jobs and growth of the nation. Little that the governments realizes, unless the conditions improve, unless the job security situation improves, the productivity and excellence at work will not happen.
The labor laws and other employment related laws provide rights to employees. Under these laws if an employer wants to let go an employee, the employer needs to serve at least two improvement notices in written within a time gap of 6 months and it is only after sufficient training, formal review of performance that they can terminate an employee. However, none of the employers, including SenecaGlobal, are in compliance with these laws as they know non-compliance does not cost them anything.
Well here is your chance to make them responsible and follow the law: join an organized labour union like NDLF. Article 19 (1) (c) of the constitution provides the right to form unions and associate to protect and achieve common goals. You voice alone may not be strong enough to fight this menace, but together as a group we are a stronger force that cannot be ignored by employers, courts and other government bodies. While going to the labor court remains your last option, joining a union should be your first priority whether you are already employed or lost your job recently.