An employee was on Maternity Leave with full benefits. But even before her going for leaves, the company lost big number of clients and we also had to lay off our staff. Now, her leaves are over & she wants to join back, but the company is not having any work and people from her department have also been laid off. But she is urging to join back and asking us to remove the only 2 people who are left in her team and allow her to continue working. I am in the HR Department and would humbly request the highly learned members here to guide me as to how should we take care of this issue so that no one suffers.
From India, Ghaziabad
Dear member,

This is a case of retrenchment on account of the losses or reduction in business. The term, "retrenchment" used here strictly may not be according to Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 or any other labour law. I have referred to the dictionary meaning.

Reduction in manpower is going on across the industries. In the IT Sector, the glorious term "rightsizing" is used to describe the situation. However, you have linked it to the maternity leave of the employee. I recommend you see both things separately. Had the woman employee not proceeded with the maternity leave, the challenge of the reduction of manpower would have remained the same as you are facing today.

Reduction in manpower is always a challenge. Communicate the situation of the company to the employees. While removing the employee(s), preferably follow the "Last In First Out" (LIFO) principle. However, whoever is being removed, he/she always feels that injustice has been meted out to him/her. Therefore, make the decision based on the business interest. Identify who is critical to run a business, and match the skill set of the employee(s) with the business requirements.

Let me make a suggestion so that the removed employees are not left high and dry. To help the removed employees, you may tell them to apply for Leave Without Pay (LWP) for six months. If the employee did not get employment even within six months, the employee can still apply for six more months of LWP. This will help the employee to be on the rolls of the employee. When he/she faces the interview, he/she can very say that he/she is working in your company. However, he/she can join immediately. Before joining, the employee can submit a letter of resignation, take a relieving letter and move on. This formula will help to prolong the length of their employment in your company. However, this is just a suggestion, please note.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
As per rule the lady employee still on job because she has not been terminated and can not be terminated by you as she was on Maternity leave.

It may be true that your company has lost clients, orders and business during the period of her maternity leave. It is simply understood from your post that your establishment has retrenched some employees and laid off some employees owing to business condition. Still it cant be termed either retrenchment or Lay-off without following the rules of the ID Act.

Therefore, your denial for job to employee on her post maternity leave stands illegal. Your management either accommodate her in job or retrench her with benefit to calm the demand.

From India, Mumbai
Dear colleague,

Your company has suffered serious business downturn because of which you had to prune down manpower. ( You seem to have used lay off to mean termination. The terms layoff and retrenchment have specific connotations under the ID Act/Rules and I don't believe your action of termination points out to it.

Against this background, one of your lady employees is requesting HR to retain her services after returning from the Maternity Leave. She also has made an immature and selfish suggestion to retain her and letting her two colleagues go . It is not her business to make such trade- off suggestion between herself and her two department team mates. Whom to retain and whom not to in these trying times is management's prerogative.

Well, to retain her or not should depend entirely on how indispensable she is under the current business situation or its revival and her utility on the long haul. If it is zilch, it is better to convey to her politely to leave by submitting the resignation. If she refuses to do so, she meets with the same fate of termination as her other colleagues. These are , no doubt, hard decisions to make but rigours of business reversals leave no better option.


Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear Seniors,
Thank You For your valuable feedback.

I spoke to the employee, and we have offered her two months of LWP so that she can look for another opportunity without having any break in her employment career.
And she has now agreed to the same and will submit her resignation after a month.

From India, Ghaziabad
Dear HRAnjali,

Good to note that our suggestions have worked in your case. However, rather than waiting for two months, you may ask her to submit the letter of resignation now itself. On receipt of her application, send her an "Acceptance of Resignation" letter. This will bring clarity to both sides.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

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