Article (August-2017)


Know employment regulations to save employer from embarrassment

H.L. Kumar

Designation : -   Advocate, Supreme Court

Organization : -  New Delhi


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Let it be said that at the very outset that the magnanimity of Anand Mahindra, Chief of the USD 19 billion group, Tech Mahindra deserves admiration from all quarters for the meticulousness of the human dignity which he has demonstrated in publicly aplogising to an employee, who was fired unceremoniously by an HR executive of the company in most uncouth manner. He offered apology over a conversation of the HR executive asking an employee to put in his papers by next morning, as part of corporate decision.

In a nearly seven-minute-long audio clip, that has gone viral, the company's HR executive was heard asking the employee to put in his papers by 10 am the next day, barring which his services at the company would be terminated. While the employee kept pleading with the HR about such a short notice, the latter sternly told him that there is no room for 'flexibility' in this case. Anand Mahindra has said in his tweet that, 'I want to add my personal apology. Our core value is to preserve the dignity of the individual & we'll ensure this does not happen in future. I deeply regret the way the HR rep & employee discussion was done. We have taken the right steps to ensure it doesn't happen in the future.'

In a statement, the Company has said that, 'Tech Mahindra has always regarded respect for colleagues, fairness and human dignity as core values, and has demonstrated these consistently over the years. We have become aware of the incident involving a conversation between and employee and a Company HR representative. We continue to implement strategies to implement the changing demands of business in the current global economic environment and align with our workforce with the business objectives, strategic priorities of the organisations, and requirements of our clients.'

However, the large heartedness of Anand Mahindra does not mitigate the incompetence and the boorishness of the HR Executive. In fact, such egregious mistakes are not isolated as HR executives are hardly well - versed with the labour laws. This is the reason that instead of following the labour laws discreetly and judiciously they prefer to assert their authority in haughty manner, which ultimately causes the irreparable loss to the goodwill and the credibility of the company. Unfortunately, the knowledge and practice of the labour laws have been relegated to the lowest rung of the priorities in the present scheme of HR Managers. The HR function is at the center of most employers' efforts to identify, hire and retain the people the organization needs to execute its strategy and achieve its goals. But this is not possible without an in-depth understanding of the labour laws.

Human Resource experts say that when lay off is inevitable, more sensitivity should be shown toward employees about to lose the jobs, particularly when they have already put in 10-15 years of service with loan repayment and family to take care of. Beyond a point, they cannot do much about it. Nevertheless, the HR executives have to be sensitive to provide a soft landing to people whom they are letting go. Here, the expertise and training of the HR Managers comes into play.

There are numerous laws and regulations governing the employment relationship that HR professionals must understand and navigate in order to help ensure their organizations avoid fines and penalties, including the potential harm to the organization's reputation. The HR function must hire and retain individuals that are knowledgeable about HR specific laws and can create policies and procedures in relation to these laws.

Increasing organizational size and its complexity, transition from traditional to professional management, changing social and cultural norms, globalization of industry and availability of information technology are constantly changing the profile of HRM functions. Today HRM manager cannot survive in the security of past. He has to play a more dynamic role in not only performing the maintenance function but should think of more creative ways to satisfy human aspirations to provide the competitive edge to organizations on a sustainable basis.

HR Executive has a flexible way of going about decisions. Sometimes he makes them himself; sometimes he consults, at other time he throws the decision to the group. It all depends on the type of group he is working with and the situation that exists. Since he has a wide variety of behaviours that he is comfortable with, he tries to adopt the appropriate behavior by being diagnostic and sensitive to situations. He does not feel that he has to make all the decisions himself, but rather that his basic responsibility is to see that the best decision is made. His practice, consequently, is always to see where competence lies, and to move the decision there. Of course, if anything affects the whole institution, then he calls all the people concerned and together they thrush it out. He feels strongly that those who are affected by decisions should be involved in their making. He often says 'the acceptability of a decision is just as important as its intrinsic soundness'. So he involves those concerned, even in cases where he is quite sure they won't add anything new, but where their commitment to the decision is necessary to make it work.

Hence, HR managers must be trained to follow the laws that are applicable in hiring and firing the employees, otherwise their actions are bound to cause the embarrassment to employers as it has caused to Anand Mahindra. It would be in the fitness of the occasion that HR Executives must accord the importance to the knowledge and application of laws that genuinely deserves.