Complaint from the wife of an employee for consumption of alcohol and misbehaving with her, wherein she has requested to transfer 50% of the employee's salary to her account. An inquiry was conducted in the matter and it could not be established that the employee misbehaves with her wife after consuming alcohol. Although the employee accepted that he consumes alcohol occasionally. Can any action be taken by the department on such complaints as this is a family issue?
From India, Delhi
Anonymous
Dear Shipra, As per my knowledge we cant do that because we he is working with us not his wife. and after working what he does is none our business
From India, Mumbai
Dear Shirpa,

It is a sorry state of affairs that in our culture still husbands come home in inebriated condition and in the ensuing quarrel domestic violence like wife beating happens. A wife brings it to the notice of the husband's employer and requests to transfer 50% of his salary to her account is indicative of the fact that the employee has become a drunkard and does not take care of his family needs. Strictly speaking, the employer has no role to play upon such complaints other than advising the employee concerned which had already been done in this case. So write back to the employee's wife that in such family quarrels the employer cannot do anything more than advising her husband and try to sort out the differences amicably with the help of family elders.

Though there is provision for redress under the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is available, tendering any advice like to file a complaint under the Act with the local Police is not desirable for the wife seems to be more emotional than rational.

From India, Salem
Dear Shipra,

You have conducted an enquiry on alleged misconduct by the employee with his wife. However, what is the basis of this enquiry?

The relationship between the employer and the employee is formal and related to the workplace only. When an employee engages in some misconduct at the workplace or does misconduct related to his/her work, an enquiry is ordered to ascertain the facts. This enquiry is called a "domestic enquiry". However, "domestic enquiry" is a phrase, and we cannot separate these words and start conducting an enquiry on the domestic matters of the employee. Though the enquiry is "domestic", it has to be ordered only if the misconduct is related to the "office activities".

On receipt of the complaint from the wife of an employee, you (means your company) could have told her to approach a family counsellor. There are myriad issues between husband and wife, and for the complaint on this or that issue by either of them, we cannot start taking a plunge into their family matters. Yes, action can be taken against the employees for engaging in activities with moral turpitude or criminal activities even if these are out of the boundary of the employer-employee relationship. However, misbehaviour with the spouse after the consumption of alcohol cannot be moral turpitude.

In Western countries, the approach is a little business-like and severing relationships with kinfolks is not considered opprobrious. In contrast, India or even the Indian subcontinent as a whole is highly family-centric. This makes people from these countries highly emotional. The emotionality forces people from the subcontinent to do a circus while carrying a burden of kinship. Approaching the office authorities to settle the family matters by the spouse of an employee is an example of this.

Occasionally, the companies need to engage professional counsellors. Please note that "professional counsellors" are different from soft skills trainers who certify themselves as counsellors. These professional counsellors visit the company premises weekly or fortnightly. The employees can schedule an appointment to seek advice from the counsellor on their personal issues. The companies pay the charges of the counsellor as a part of the employee welfare. I wish your company had done something like this. This answers your question, "Can any action be taken by the department on such complaints as this is a family issue?"

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Thanks Sir for your valuable comments and opinion in the matter.
There is provision that if an employee is habitual of consuming alcohol / drugs and does not take proper care of his family, then an enquiry is to be conducted and when the facts are established, 50% salary of employee to be deposited in dependents' account. In this case, employee is taking proper care of his family, which has been established in the enquiry conducted by the department. The statements of his children and other family members were recorded. The complaint was also lodged by the wife with police but police also released the employee on bail after counseling. She is approaching the management for giving her 50% salary of her husband and not ready to file a suite.

From India, Delhi
KK!HR
1109

In the background of the matter, the action taken by you is sound.
It appears you are from a government organisation. As the charges are not established in the formal enquiry, you have to close this at this stage. Further, if felt so you can orally warn the employee that any such complaint in future would lead to 50% salary going to the wife's account.

From India, Mumbai
Dear KK!HR Sir,

You have advised the originator of this post to warn the employee that if the complaint of misbehaviour from the wife is received, 50% of his salary will be credited to the wife's account. However, may I know on what basis the organisation can do this? No organisation, whether government or private, can divert part of the employee's salary to some other account unless there is a proper court order.

Though the dowry cases abound in India, it may be noted there is harassment of the husbands from wives also. The misuse of 498A is rampant and is a major cause of suicide by husbands.

Therefore, members of the should exercise neutrality. We cannot take positions to treat one party as white as the lily and tarnish the image of the other.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Dinesh Sir,
In government organization, there is a provision that if an employee is found habitual of consuming alcohol and as a result, doesn't take care of his dependents, then 50% of his salary can be diverted to his dependents provided that such act of the employee should be established either in the enquiry conducted by the organization or police or as ordered by court, as the case may be.

From India, Delhi
Dr.Shirpa,

Had you given the complete particulars about the type of your organization such as a Central/State Govt Department, Public Sector Undertaking etc., the relevant rules empowering the employer to take disciplinary action against its employee on such complaints from the spouse and apportion and make payment of the 50% of the salary payable to the employee to the spouse, it would have helped outsiders like us to get more clarity before responding to your query.

From India, Salem
KK!HR
1109

Respected Dinesh Sir,
I advised oral warning with a caveat that 'if felt so'. As HR head when the family of the erring employee comes complaining of such unhealthy behaviour, a purely legalistic approach may not help to resolve the issues. In such situations, I have had to take extra measures and use little arm twisting, all for a good purpose and without any mischief. By the Grace of God, all worked well and the tough advises have yielded intended results practically. In running large organisations a purely legal approach may at times be counter productive and some liberties have to be taken, all for a good cause. If asked the legality, I have no difference of opinion with you.

From India, Mumbai

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