Company that I am presently working with is a licensed Electrical contractors and consultants based in central India. Management is looking into the aspect of converting the regular employees(technical and non-technical) to consultant.The roles and duties are going to be same. The decision would affect me and other employees.
Please answer the following queries-
1) Will the salary be consolidated and subject to yearly appraisal ?
2) What allowances (HRA,vehicle allowance etc.) am I entitled to?
3) Would I get bonus ?
4) Is PF or ESIC applicable to them?
5) What obligations do they have for company and vice-versa?
6)MOST IMPORTANT Would it hamper my future job searching prospects( is experience as consultant counted for government and private job profiles)?
7) Can I have flexible work schedule?
8) Leave entitlements?
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Converting the employees into Consultants is a foolish idea of the employer to avoid statutory payments and benefits which are available only to employees and workers. At the same time if you as consultants are asked to follow the company's policies with regard to office timing, holidays, reporting structure, etc you will never be called a consultant but you will come under the definition of employee only.
You cannot have an establishment working with consultants only. You cannot or are not expected to consult with professionals only and you cannot have so many of consultants at a time. Now let me answer to your queries one by one.
1. A consultant will be paid a fees and not salary. It is decided by the consultant and not by the employer. When you demand that my services is available at a cost of such and such that should be the amount of remuneration. If the term of consulting is one year, again after one year you can send a quotation and demand a fees which will obviously be higher than the present one.
This will not work because in practice the employer decides what should be the remuneration. If you can show that the employer has fixed a remuneration, it establishes master servant relationship.
2. You will not get any allowances unless otherwise provided for in your contract. Constant's fees will always be a consolidated amount. Certainly, if the contract so specifies, you will get travel reimbursements for each day that you visit the office.
3. No bonus to consultants. However, in your case since you work similar to any employee, you are controlled and supervised by any other employee, you report to somebody like any other employee, you attend to work in time and take leave getting permission, you will get bonus, provided you establish before the authority under the Payment of Bonus Act that you have been working like any other employee and only designated as consultant, you will get bonus.
4. If your contract is genuine one you will not be covered by PF or ESI.
Since it is only an arrangement, the EPF and ESI authorities will certainly demand contribution. It is easy to establish master servant relationship and once it is established you should be covered by PF and ESI
5. Consultants have roles and responsibilities as described in the contract. The company's responsibility is just to pay the fees once the consultant gives satisfactory advises on various matters. The scope of obligations will be there in the contract.
Since there is no such genuine contract you will have the same roles and responsibilities as other workers have. The company,on the other hand, will pay you salary, fees every month,thats'all.
6. The role of a consultant is not that good for an entry level person. A consultant is expected to be an adviser and he will never face the practical issues. When you go for a career advancement or when you face an interview for a higher position, you will have to explain that you were handling the real things and your role was to solve the issues etc and not confined only to advising. In government job, please forget these things because the experience you gain from a private establishment is of no value there.
7. A consultant is expected to have flexible timing. But since there is no genuine consultancy you may have to follow the same timing as the others follow. This will establish that there exists master servant relationship between your employer and you.
8. A consultant is not entitled to any leave nor his absence for a few days is marked as leave without pay. If your absence is marked as leave and fees is reduced proportionally, that establishes master servant relationship.
Very brief: This will not work. By whatever name a person who works for an employer is called, he is a servant only and if so, he should be given benefits as per law.
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