Hi Seniors/Experts, Request your help to know In what extent an employer can use sabbaticals as a tool instead of Lay off.
To announce leave without pay for a long time for all employees in this financial crisis time.

From India, Madurai
Dear J Thirumeni Selvam,
A sabbatical is not just a long leave but study leave too. When an employee wishes to pursue higher study, companies allow such employee to proceed on long leave keeping their employment intact. Generally, a sabbatical is paid one but it could be unpaid too. Availment of a sabbatical based on trust. Companies have complete trust on the employee. They feel that when an employee returns with his/her enlarged knowledge, it would be beneficial to the company. Therefore, it is a win-win situation.
Allotment of sabbaticals is a few and far between. It cannot be on the mass scale.
However, in your case, what you prefer doing is camouflaging layoff with a sabbatical. Will it escape legal scrutiny that remains to be seen. Rather than adopting a method that misrepresents a situation, is it not worthwhile to make approach the labour office and obtain the permission that is legally valid? COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation and I don't think that the labour officers will avoid giving permission.
Lastly, how come your company is so sure that their financial situation will not improve for a long time? Once the situation becomes normal, who knows India may start getting the export orders in a big way which, in turn, could give fillip to the economic activity at the national level.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Sabbatical is employee initiated leave for reasons explained above. No Pay/ No benefits/no service continuity could be the conditions applied as defined in company policy
Furlough leave could be an option which the organization can initiate in such situations. part pay or no pay could be discretionary. but Medical insurance benefits, term life benefits & service accrual for gratuity etc would be applicable during furlough
can someone validate the furlough leave point

From India, undefined
Dear Mr. Dinesh Divekar and Miss. VijayaGB, Thank you very much for your views and suggestions.
From India, Madurai
Dear Thirumeni Selvam,

Is it an alternative proposal gaining the active consideration of your management or just a curious question to find out an alternative for mass lay off in a situation like nation wide lock down due to COVID-19?

Our learned friend Mr.Dinesh has given an elaborate answer distinguishing sabbatical leave and lay off and the legal approach to lay off and I do hope that your "thank you note" indicates your satisfactory acceptance of the answers given so far.

Just for the sake of academic as well as practical knowledge of the concept of " lay off " as defined u/s 2(kkk) of the Industrial Disputes Act,1947, I request you kindly go through sections 25-C of Chapter V-A and 25-M of Chapter V-B of the same. Since the out break of COVID-19 is recognized as national disaster under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act,2005, any industrial establishment falling under Chapter V-B need not seek prior permission from the appropriate Government as per the exception clause of section 25-M(1) but straight away resort to lay off subject to the payment of compensation as provided for u/s 25-C.

From India, Salem
Dear Mr Umakanthan M,
You have recommended laying off the staff without permission from the Labour Officer. You say that there is a legal provision to do so. However, I still recommend keeping the labour authorities in the loop.
The problem of COVID-19 is not going to remain forever. Who knows after a few months a labour officer may come and without assessing properly merits of the case may issue the notice of the owner of the establishment. Therefore, it is advisable to take proper permission. If not, the last thing that can be done is to send a letter to the labour authorities informing them on the layoff.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

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