Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TCS lay-offs: Company revokes termination of pregnant worker, another moves court

IT major Tata Consultancy Services has revoked the termination of its woman employee in Chennai as an exceptional case since she was pregnant. TCS, which is facing allegations of preparing to terminate the services of 25,000 workers, said the employee had not made known to them that she was pregnant, the company said in a press release.

"Sasi Rekha has stated in the affidavit before the Madras High Court that she is pregnant. This fact was not made known to TCS by Sasi Rekha during the exit process," it said.

The company said that it considered this statement made by her, and "while disputing that employees are workmen within the Industrial Disputes Act, decided to revoke the letter relieving Sasi Rekha, as an exceptional case, in line with its practice of not relieving any employees during pregnancy."

"This fact was brought to the knowledge of the court and recording the same, the court has dismissed the writ petition as infructuous," the company said.

Rekha had challenged her termination in court and contended that the retrenchment move was illegal and in gross violation of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Her counsel Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan told the Economic Times that since the employee was pregnant, the spirit of Section 12 of the Maternity Benefits Act would have naturally applied for the employee. The section clearly states that a pregnant woman cannot be dismissed during pregnancy, she added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by Rekha after counsel for the software major said the firm has revoked the termination. The termination letter to her was issued on 22 December last year. The court had on Tuesday last restrained TCS from retrenching the analyst.

Last week the company said it does not plan to initiate any large-scale exits but did admit that one percent of its total employees would be fired this fiscal for non-performance or failure to specialise in a particular domain required for its various projects.

The total involuntary attrition (terminating service) for FY15 will be around one percent, it was 0.8 percent (2,574 employees) for the first nine months, the company tweeted on 13 January. As the largest employer in the IT industry, TCS currently has a whopping 3,13,757 employees, including over 100,000 women. Freshers account for 60 percent and laterals 40 percent.

Meanwhile, taking cue from Rekha, a 36-year-old male employee of TCS who was terminated by the company on the same day as her has also approached the court complaining of unfair termination. The Madras High Court will hear the case on Wednesday.

The petitioner’s counsel said that the management did not give any notice of retrenchment as required under the Industrial Disputes Act.

Over the last one month, there has been considerable noise about alleged mass layoffs by TCS. Social networks are abuzz with unsubstantiated news that the company plans to send home about 25, 000 “non-performers” by the end of February 2015.

Although TCS has maintained that there is nothing extraordinary and it’s only part of “workforce optimisation”, many people on social networking and media forums have alleged unfair treatment and a surreptitious plan to downsize the workforce.

As Firstpost reported earlier,  "a group of TCS employees met the labour commissioner in Bengaluru and complained to him about the alleged lay offs across various centres in India. According to one of them, “first they remove you from the project, and later will ask you to leave the company.” “Employees are asked to sign voluntary resignation letters. We are given a one-month notice period, and are not being given eligible compensation,” is the version of another employee. Employees who lost jobs in Kochi also echoed similar sentiments."

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