It was the net outcome of the trust towards management; Hashmat was able to develop among the employees of this company, that he got the confession letter from Prem Singh, one of its very senior workmen and apology about a misconduct he committed. When the workman wrote the confession sitting before Hashmat, Prem Singh was confident that management would not cause harm to his employment. Simply asking by Hashmat whether he has done wrong, he could gather courage to say no and accepted that he did wrong. He should not have fallen into the greed trap induced by a co employee.
For last about eight years, since Hashmat joined the organisation as HR manager, after severe labour unrest, this company faced for about four months, he worked hard on repairing the employee relations. He rebuilt the environment of mutual trust and transparency and in last eight years there was no case of disciplinary matter. Hashmat had a different philosophy. He believed in reformatory approach by making employee felt about the guilt from inside and let pass through the repentance of his own and in this process he succeeded to much extent. Hashmat was reporting to director sitting at the factory, who was also an employee. The organisation was a unit of multinational company having its India corporate office in Mumbai where Director HR was also sitting responsible for taking care of HR and employee relations of all Indian facilities.
Last two months were not easy going for Hashmat. His former HR director left and new one came in. This new HR director at the age of 60 was appointed on retainer ship basis for three years after retirement because of having strong academic and employee relations back ground. He served in many reputed big conglomerates of the country at different locations in different sectors. Last time when he visited to this facility, he appreciated the efforts of Hashmat in bringing employees and management on same page and neutralising the union as Hashmat through his consistent innovative initiatives, workers realised that there remained no need of any union. Employees many times commented in company functions that Hashmat was their leader and they will follow him without asking any question. Hashmat became popular in the company workers. New HR director cautioned Hashmat about this attitude of employees towards him and said that it was not a place to build personal relationships and have popularity contest. Everybody was expected to perform his job and act professionally by keeping the company rules and policies up all the time. Hashmat was advised not to get involved emotionally with workers as this was a class who would never be honest to management. There will always be basic conflict between interests of labour and capital.
Hashmat listened him quietly but felt uncomfortable. It was a conflict of philosophy between him and his boss. Director sitting at factory was also happy with Hashmat, the way he brought the peace and harmony in factory and turn around in employee relations.
The back ground of writing a confession letter to Hashmat by that senior workman Prem Singh was rooted in an incident of heated exchange between the two workmen which was about some money payment between the two.
Hashmat enquired the matter and it was found something else. He called both one by one to his office. Prem Singh revealed that two months back he was approached by Rajendra, co employee and asked him whether he availed the medical insurance benefit from the insurance company against the mediclaim policy, company bought for all employees and paid premium every year? Prem said that since there was no sickness by God grace in his family, he did not, to which Rajendra commented that he was a fool. Rajendra shared how he was claiming every year mediclaim expenses from insurance company even when there was no sickness in his family too with the connivance of a hospital that gave him hospitalization and medical expenses bills and took 60% from the amount I received from insurance company thus earned 40%. He only gave his and wife adahar card and employee ID card of the company. Everything rest was taken care by the hospital. Hospital gave him bunch of papers to which he signed and sent to insurance company and within one month amount claimed was credited in his account.
Rajendra induced him to try once as there would be no problem as he would be helping him and take care of all aspects. Prem Singh out of greed handed over his and his wife adhar card.
After few days Rajendra asked him to sign the papers of the hospitals bills and settled that he was to pay 70% of the amount received from insurance company. Prem Singh agreed and signed the papers. After one month amount was credited in Prem Singh account. He informed Rajendra and next day withdrew the cash and paid as agreed. The point of conflict was that Rajendra was asking 10% more from him against his services and support provided to him in the matter to which Prem refused.
Hashmat, on listening the story from Prem was shocked. Hashmat probed him further. He said that Rajendra might have induced other workers also to claim false medical expenses. Hashmat understood the game that it was well organised nexus between the insurance company, hospital and Rajendra was acting as their agent to bring more customers to them. It was possible that Rajendra was also taking some cut from hospital as well.
Rajendra too wrote the confession but denied having got any money from Prem.
Since it was well knitted arrangement and there was no inquiry/complaint either from hospital or insurance company, it was difficult for Hashmat to initiate any disciplinary action against either Prem or Rajendra as also there was no financial loss caused by them to the company nor they defrauded the company. It was the insurance company who was defrauded but there was no issue raised from them rather settled their claims and paid.
Having confessions letters of both in hand, Hashmat reached to director's office and shared him whole case. Both were of the opinion that since there was no evidence against Prem Singh and Rajendra, initiating disciplinary action against them would be of no use. Director HR was also briefed about the matter.
Director HR instructed Hashmat and factory Director that since both the employees have committed dishonest act and it is a matter of integrity both should be dismissed and their confessions should for the purpose.
Hashmat said, but sir, both have given confessions to me in confidence and in response to any show cause notice. If we use these papers against them for termination, it would be betrayal, which should not be done.
Director HR became annoyed. He commented, Look Hashmat come to sense, there is nothing personal. Why they have given you personally a confession, which is an official matter. Come out of this personal and non personal. Issue them show cause and use these confessions for terminations.
Hashmat and factory director were speechless. Hashmat reacted to factory director, “Sir, I will not do this. I will return their confession letter to them, and then act as management wants. I can't hit them below the belt. They have written by looking at my face. Nobody would have come to know about this game, had they not revealed me the truth of their own and felt guilty from inside.”
Factory director said, "Be cool and calm, think again. We are here to serve organisation's interest."
Questions for discussion :
1. How do you assess the approach of Hashmat in managing the employee relations?
2. Was Hashmat correct in obtaining their confession letters using his personal influence without adopting the prescribed procedure?
3. How do you critically analyse the approach of director HR in the case?
4. Is Hashmat right in resisting taking action against employees by using their confessions? How should now management handle this issue?