Hi Experts, Management in my company directed us to keep the original educational certificates as security till the completion of the probation period of three months. I want to know is it legal? Do we have any Act/Law against/in favor of this?
If we lost any of these certificates then who will be accountable legally for this, Management who given these directions in written or the executive who is taking these certificates in his custody and giving them an acknowledgment of same.
Please share your thoughts on this.

From India, Patiala
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
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Dear Mandeep,
Keeping original certificates is both unethical and illegal. Please click on the links in the sidebar at the right, where this topic has been covered a number of times.
Has the management given these instructions in writing?

From United Kingdom

As rightly told by Simhan, it is unethical and illegal too, Company keeps the original certificates not as security but for to hold the employees till the employer need.
From India, Ahmadabad

As rightly told by Simhan, it is unethical and illegal too, Company keeps the original certificates not as security but to hold the employees till the employer’s need.
From India, Ahmadabad
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Mandeep,

Companies retain the original certificates of the newly joined employees to foreclose possibility of sudden exit. There are abundant cases of abandonment of employment. To contain this challenge companies resort to this method. Since the certificates are held by the company, employee who wishes to resign has to adhere to the notice period or separation norms per force.

Why retentions of certificates three months alone? Few companies retain certificates even for five long years. However, once you accept the certificates, onus of the custody of the certificate lies with you. You need to issue acknowledgement letter stating what kind of certificates you possess and when these will be returned.

There is another angle to look at also. If the things have come to such a pass where you need to retain the certificates then it only goes on to throw light on your recruitment practices, career-consciousness of the candidates, salary whether as per market standards and above all culture of your organisation. Retention of the educational certificates is only a curative measure however, you need to eradicate the real malaise which could lie elsewhere. Find out why people are quitting.


Dinesh V Divekar


From India, Bangalore

Checking the original against the photocopy and thereafter returning the original is fine. Retention of the original certificates is not professional.
Don't join an organization which is asking you to submit originals for their record AND custody.

From India, Mumbai

Dear Mandeep,
Greetings for the day,
It really a shocking that original documents were kept in custody of an employer which is illegal & unethical. This provokes the situation of bonded labour which was totally abolishe by government of india.
Thanks & regards,
sumit kumar saxena

From India, Ghaziabad
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Sumit,

Gone through your post. You appear to be detached from the current realities of the job market. In the preceding generation, job opportunities were limited hence retaining employees was not a big challenge. Today job opportunities galore. Against this backdrop employees play truant. To contain the sudden exit of the employees, companies resort to the seemingly devious means of keeping the original certificates. It acts as a hedge to ensure that the employees work as per their notice period.

In today's world, everybody wanted to work in branded companies. In that case where SMEs will go? Getting quality manpower is a huge challenge for them. They end up in getting rejects or stragglers. These people may not be that career-conscious. They do not find anything wrong with the abandonment of their employment.

My friend who runs his photo studio was fed up with sudden staff exit. Finally, he started keeping the first month's salary as the security deposit. He thought that at least for the sake of money people will stay. But this method also did not work 100% In certain cases employees reconciled with the loss of security deposit and they left anyway. Neither they cared to come back to take their first month's salary.

Legality apart, why apply ethics alone to the employers? Why not to the employees who just leave their services without any information? Are they not supposed to work as per their notice period? Let us apply ethics to both sides and not to either side. The sudden exit of employees throws the work of the employers out of gear. To maintain continuity of the work, retention of the staff is the barest necessity. Therefore, original certificates are retained out of compulsion and not to display their high-handedness.

Hope I have tried to bring out the viewpoint of other side. However, do not misinterpret it as if I am pitching for the employers.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
as per section 27 indian contract law it is illegal .
From India, Benaulim

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