Notice period? What notice period?
Questions are being raised about how IT consultancy giant Cap gemini is laying off employees in its Indian offices. The company sent out an email to employees early 2008 saying they need not serve a 90-day notice period when they quit their jobs. The notice period was reduced to 30 days. This was done without the consent of employees as it results in huge savings for the firm - Capgemini will now have to pay outgoing staffers a month’s salary instead of three months, an insider told IT Examiner.
Another message followed, asking employees to sign on a tailored resignation letter. While most employees fell prey to the nasty nip, few decided to snub the proposal, calling it illegal, said the source.
According to our source, this method has been adopted to lay off around 2,000 employees over several months, in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata. In these tough times, it’s shocking to see companies choosing methods that can hardly be termed as legal to cut costs. Shrinking the notice period without employees’ consent is unethical.
Our source said that those who refused to sign the resignation letter pointed out that their appointment orders clearly states that the notice period extends to three months. The HR department responded by de-activating their email IDs and even threatened them, the source said.
A few employees, who spoke to Capgemini’s India HR head Dr. Sripada Chandrashekhar, were told that if the company decides to shrink the notice period from three to one month for 2,000 employees, it certainly has to be legal. “Following the massive revolt, Jnanes Kumar who was heading the HR process back then was deported to another division. Arun Kumar was brought in as replacement,” the source said.
A senior advocate, on condition of anonymity, told IT Examiner that, “as per Indian laws, companies cannot shrink the notice period in the case of permanent employees. But it can be done with those still on probation. Otherwise it is illegal to reduce the notice period without the consent of employees.' According to him, in such cases employees usually give up and sign the resignation letter. 'A company has an upper hand in these cases as employees are reluctant to individually sue the company fearing high expenses of the legal process. Even if one wins the case, there is no guarantee that the company will hire him/her in the same position. The best way to battle this is by approaching an employees’ union and fighting the legal case, making it more economical.'
IT-BPO union, UNITES has made an appeal to the Capgemini employees to raise their voice. “I am aware of what’s going on at Capgemini. Employees often commit a mistake by succumbing to the pressure. Capgemini has done the same thing by forcing them to sign it. We cannot intervene once they sign the resignation letter,” said UNITES India general secretary, R Karthik Shekhar told IT Examiner.
Shekhar added, “It’s illegal to violate the terms and conditions mentioned in the agreement. If they have promised three months’ pay, they have to hand it over the same day. This is unacceptable. Even if they throw workers out citing poor performance, this has to be given in writing.”
He made an appeal saying, “We can go to the labour commissioner with this problem only if the employees are courageous enough to talk to us.”
Capgemini failed to respond to our queries by press time. But do they have anything to say at all?