The office of the Chief Labour Commissioner, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, has issued a notice to Infosys asking it to appear before it on Thursday, for a discussion regarding a complaint by a union, on non-compete clauses in the company’s employment contracts. Infosys has been accused of making employees sign a contract which a labour union says, is against labour laws and are discriminatory.
A copy of the notice, which was seen by BusinessLine, is addressed to the Group HR head of Infosys and Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), the Pune-headquartered labour union which filed the complaint. The notice signed by Deputy Labour Commissioner Remis Tiru it says “…in respect of the non-compete agreement clauses whereby the employees terminated from employment from Infosys / or any reason have been restricted in respect of their future employment. The aforesaid clause has been alleged to be unethical and illegal by the complainant. It has been decided to hold a joint discussion in the issue before the Chief Labour Commissioner.”
President of NITES, Harpreet Singh Saluja, whose organisation had filed the complaint with the ministry, said, ‘the very fact that they are being asked to explain their stance by the government is a victory for not just Infosys workers but all the five million employees in the sector. For too long, companies in the sector have treated employees with callousness and we are glad that the government is trying to intervene in favour of the workers. The power dynamic between an employee and multi-billion-dollar enterprises is unequal and only unions like ours can help make it a level playing field.’
Infosys had recently asked employees to agree to a clause, which bars them from working for the same customer with rival firms, till six months after they quit the company. The competing firms named in the clause include Accenture, TCS, IBM, Wipro and Coginzant. It also bars them working for the same customers, who they had serviced while at Infosys in the previous 12 months. NITES says that these clauses are violative of section 27 of the Contract Act and are illegal.
While Infosys was yet to respond on its next course of action, earlier the company had said, “it is standard business practice in many parts of the world for employment contracts to include controls of reasonable scope and duration to protect confidentiality of information, customer connection and other legitimate business interests. These are fully disclosed to all job aspirants before they decide to join Infosys, and do not have the effect of preventing employees from joining other organisations for career growth and aspirations.”
April 27, 2022