Govt has issued notice to Wipro for benching employees

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The Labour Commissioner has issued a notice to IT giant, Wipro after reports of the company benching 300 employees surfaced. The notice issued states that no employer can reduce the salary or cannot terminate employees during the lockdown period as per the notification issued. The notice instructs Wipro to take necessary steps, else legal action will be taken against them.

Maharashtra based IT union, NITES, (Maharashtra based IT union National Information Technology Employees Senate) has complained that Wipro has benched around 300 employees during this lockdown, and as a result, their salaries have been slashed. NITES has filed the petition with the commission on 1st May 2020.

In the complaint letter, NITES said, “On behalf of NITES, Maharashtra we would like to bring to your notice that we have received complaints from employees of Wipro BPO Pune Phase 2 Hinjewadi regarding putting employees on bench to maintain the profitability of business under COVID-19 pandemic.”

NITES said, “The company has also notified the employees on April 23, 2020 that they are on bench with immediate effect. Because of this, pay and jobs of more than 300 employees are at risk,”

The move is a strict violation of the Maharashtra government’s rule that employees should not be impacted because of COVID-19., NITES added in the complaint letter.

However, Wipro has denied allegations by NITES and said that these are speculations and has no basis. “Wipro reiterates that there are no retrenchment plans. Also, we request you not to misrepresent or misinterpret intra-company surveys that are undertaken from time to time on various topics. The company has well-define policies and people practices in place to take care of its employees,” the company said.

In the IT industry, the benching is a practice wherein the employees are allowed a certain time period within which they have to find projects to work on. Employees fear that if they are unable to do so, they may even be laid off.

According to Saurabh Govil, Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro said, “We will look at if people can go on furloughs and leaves. If sub-contractor costs can come down and if we can deploy people there. We will have to cut costs wherever possible. These are tough times and we may have to take tough decisions.”

Wipro has also halted revenue guidance due to the lack of clarity and deferred promotions and stopped wage hikes as well. 

Earlier, the Pune office of French tech company Capgemini was also served a similar notice by the Labour Commissioner of Pune asking it to revoke forced leaves during the pandemic.

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