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Hi,
I have joined a new company where I am suppose to handle HR activities. Our company is a marketing firm with around 18-20 employees, having a bit of retention problem.
While preparing a format for appointment letter, employer has asked to take all the original documents from employees and keep it for at least one year with the company and also have notice period of two months. Is practice of taking original documents legal? I checked number of discussions- some say its legal while others say its not. Please guide me.
If it is legal, kindly provide me the receipt format for original documents.
6th May 2013 From India, Pune

CHR
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CHR 613
This is a very serious issue and I have myself seen family members being effected by this. The company withheld documents to create problems with moving to another job.

Withholding of document of course CANNOT under any circumstances be legal - unless you are a government organisation who has the authority to do something like this to enact security or other enforcements on employees. This is pretty much holding employees to ransom with no way out - even in service bonds there are termination clauses where the employee can pay their way out. This is possibly a criminal offense if it can be proven in the court of law. Please allow some to the senior members to comment on this. However as with service bonds - this possibly falls in the same ambit.

Now there was this interesting discussion about legality of bonds - https://www.citehr.com/162292-legal-...on-policy.html - some said that it was theoretically possible to hold people to ransom for some bond they signed - Ankita a senior member suggested this in this post https://www.citehr.com/433978-legal-...ml#post2014674

I would suggest that your employer looks for possible reasons why employees are leaving rather than try to create abusive practices - I hope some of our senior members will be able to shed more light on this issue.
6th May 2013 From India, Gurgaon
Thank You for your advice.
But number of companies do practice it in return for a receipt.
Is there any law to prove that its illegality. I am sure my boss is not keen on doing anything illegal. All I have to do is show solid proof to stop this policy from been implemented.
6th May 2013 From India, Pune
Remember, taking original documents for verification purposes, after giving a formal receipt, may not constitute bad practice provided the originals are returned within 7 - 10 days. But withholding original documents with the intent of denying employees an exit option is a serious matter which can put an employer in to trouble.
Your quoting that a number of companies do it & offer a receipt in return is not a valid argument. You may not be aware that they return the original documents within a week.
CHR, the Super Moderator has guided you adequately. It may be in your own interest to follow his advice.
6th May 2013 From India, Delhi
I worked for 30 yrs in govt organizations.I am not aware of any case where original documents were taken in to custody. If you return the documents as and when the employee demands it is OK.Other wise it is illegal as it affects individual freedom and it will be misused to hold the employee in ransom.
Varghese Mathew
9961266966
6th May 2013 From India, Thiruvananthapuram
It is obviously illegal to artificlally bond employees by with holding certificates.
Asian Heart Institute faces a lot of flak from Nurses for this practice and they finally withdrew the same.
In a PIL, somewhere in July 2011, Delhi High Court came on heavily for witholding certificates and bonding nurses. Subsequently, even Indian Nursing Council specifically banned this practice.
As a professional, you may help your organization in finding out reasons of attrition and address them rather than help them create taller artificial and illegal walls! In any case they will not work. In case they do, you will be saddled with unwilling workforce!
You can google for the high court judgment. I was unable to paste the link.
Cheers
7th May 2013
I thought CHR's response and further advice from other members on this topic has been brilliant.
Amrita, if your employer is serious about plugging attrition, he should commission an independent audit of the companies policies and HR environment. In fact, the very fact that he thinks holding original papers is a method to deal with attrition is illustrative of bullying; and today's employees get wind of negativity at senior management level quickly, and leave. It is quite probable that people are leaving because of a poor work environment, low security, low compensations and a mix of all of these.
It is quite clear that withholding original papers is illegal - "artificial bond". And by doing so all you will end up doing is turning away the high potential human resources as no one worth his salt will join you under these circumstances. Your employer needs to look at the mid- and long-term and have a strategy to improve retention of employees in a positive environment.
7th May 2013 From India, Mumbai
I hasten to add that in case such policies are thrust upon you - make sure you have a clear written instruction from your employer in this regard before executing it. Do not even draft a policy like this without a written instruction - by email or memo. You don't want to get caught in a court room battle between an employee and your company where your employer would simply state that HR is responsible for the policy.
7th May 2013 From India, Mumbai
Hi,
You can take the certificates from employees for verification purpose only and the same should return the employee within a week time. If the employer want hold the certificates its illegal.
Regards,
Sivakumar
7th May 2013 From India, New Delhi
Hi Amrita,

Itís illegal to have your employees original certificates with you. (Literally you are locking your employee with a heavy chain and preventing him from moving anywhere). This is worst than slavery, because if he gets to escape from that particular environment he can manage to be free, but by getting the original certificates the employer is curbing the rights of the employee. If I am not mistaken this is an offense which comes with penalty from court along with imprisonment based on the case filed.

I clearly understand this situation of yours, as I had faced similar situation in my beginning days of my career as a HR.

It was my CEO who was insisting me to do this and they already had the system in place when I joined the company. I told them clearly that I will never hand over my original certificates beyond 7 working day with them. At the time of hiring me they were Ok with that only for me. But when I had to hire people they told me that I should collect the originals, initial I explained the consequences but my CEO was not read to listen. Finally I said I will collect all the originals on behalf of him and he will have to sign the document stating that the below listed docs will be kept in safe custody by the company and he would take entire responsibility of the original docs. After few days he said it was fine with him and we did not have to collect originals. I ensured that all the originals collected earlier where returned to the concerned employee later.

As a HR person you need to have ethics and make sure nothing unethical happens when you are part of the system.

Optional way out to retain sales persons, use half yearly or annual bonus, use variable pay, use commission on sales. This will work out well in retaining candidates.
7th May 2013 From India, Madras

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