Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Nathrao
Insolvency N Gst Professional
+1 Other

Anonymous
Hello, I have been working in a company for more than 3 years now. Just before the start of the lockdown, the company allowed WFH for all employees and informed them that it will continue for at least December.

Now, they are calling all the members (who were at their native in different places in the country) of my team to report to office at a notice of 10 days and start working from next week.

The relocation from different states near the office and finding safe accommodation can take time in a POST COVID scenario.

In December, we have Christmas vacations from 25th till Jan 4th. So, again the employees will be willing to get back to their families instead of spending the time alone.

I had written emails describing the health risk of the repeated to and for travel at a short span of time in this COVID situation.

But there has been no consideration in extending remote work for a few more days.

HR said that all my points are valid but I'll have to come to the office nonetheless or else they will mark me as absconding.

Questions:

1) Is the management right to mark me as absconding? I am not fleeing from the company, just requested a little more time to allow work remotely and will be working.

2) If not, what options do I have?

From United States
Dear member,
The threat of the second wave COVID-19 pandemic is lurking on head India. Against this backdrop, calling employees to the office is a risk. The risk is not just for those who will be required to travel from their home state to the office location but commuting even within the city is also fraught with the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
If the HR has issued an office circular for the physical presence of employees then it must have been under the instruction of the top management. HR does not take the decision on their own.
In view of this, I request employees to come together and give a collective submission to the MD of the company asking for the continuation of the WFH mode of working. Let us see whether MD shows resilience or remains inclement.
If MD shows intractableness then you may approach the labour office under whose jurisdiction your company belongs to and file a complaint. However, this would require travel from your city to the office location. Therefore, this option is ruled out.
Your query is can the employee be marked absconding though he/she logs in officially? Technically speaking, not attending office personally cannot be construed as an abandonment of employment. For not reporting to the office physically, HR may mark an employee "absent". There is a difference between absence and abandonment.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Due to impact of Covid-19 every one is passing through bad phases. This has adversely affected the business worldwide. To overcome this situation some employer have terminated the service and reduced the salary of their employee.

My view is we must give respect to management decision.
Due to Covid -19 management has allowed you to work from home till now. Now may be due to administration requirement they are planning their employees to work from office.Now as per central/ state govt. guidelines everywhere lock down has been unlocked therefore management can take this type of decision.

After long staying at home then looking for a vacation should not be priority at this point of time.
However, we may request for extension of the dead line and temporary arrangement for accommodation till the employees find suitable accommodation.

Please understand that not following the office instruction may be treated as misconduct and management has every right to take disciplinary action as per the company policy.

However, it is employee and employer responsibility to ensure that everyone one working as per the state and central guidelines.

From India, Bhubaneswar
Dear Jitendra Das,

This is about your reply to the originator of the post.

Yes, management's decision must be respected. Nevertheless, the decision has to be rational too. Pending Christmas holidays, I do not find any rationale in calling the employees back from their faraway homes and making them work personally.

Is management not responsible for the well-being of their employees? If all along work could go on in WFH mode, it should go on even now also. Secondly, if the management wanted to ensure the physical presence of the employees, they could have given a proper justification for their decision. We are in the 21st century and not in previous centuries where the decisions of the top management could go unquestioned. Rather than controlling people, today's management practices focus more on customer satisfaction, employee motivation, promoting innovation at the workplace and so on. Misplaced authoritativeness or forced compliance of the order will have repercussions of their own.

Secondly, nowhere the poster has written about the "vacation". Working from one's hometown or cannot be construed as vacation per se. Going further, closure of the office on account of Christmas holidays is the official closure in many companies in India and so is the case at hand also. Therefore, this closure also cannot be described as "vacation".

In fact, working from home also brings challenges in its wake. Nevertheless, for safety purposes, a few employees prefer working from home. That "home" could be the actual "home" of the hometown and need not be the premises taken on rent or owned that are closer to the office.

Let us understand the proper difference in the concept of home.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Management needs to consider all aspects before calling all employees to work from office location.
1) What is the state of covid at office location?and
What about covid in places where employees stay? and have to travel to rejoin duty?
2) Is work from home presently not achieving results?
3) If company has holidays in December end due to Christmas, point of calling employees hardly 10-15 days ahead of holidays needs reconsideration
Marking an employee absent who has logged in his attendance would not be in order.
Employees need to get together and first approach MD/Chairman and seek intervention.
Last resort will be Labour Officer of the area.

From India, Pune
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