Ms. Parvin

Dear All, In our company one of our Employees is working on-site as a supervisor and has not any authority to sign any document. But, still has signed one of the documents and is even not asked to sign the authority before signing.

So, can we take any legal action against him like temporary suspension without pay or any other strict action against him?

He is working with us since 2014. Please suggest in legal terms.
Thanks in Advance.

From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Master Consultant
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Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant
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Dinesh Divekar

Dear Ms Pravin,

In your post, you have mentioned an incident in your company. Nevertheless, the following information is needed:

a) What is the designation of the employee? Have you given him in writing what documents is he authorised to sign and what documents he is not authorised to sign?

b) What exactly is the "document"? Was it a financial approval? To whom the document was addressed? Did your company suffer a financial setback because the employee took this decision on his own? What any other signatory would have done differently?

c) If the employee is working with you since 2014, then why you do not wish to trust the employee?

d) Have you issued the show-cause notice to the employee for signing a document without proper authority? What is his reply?

e) Why do you wish to take a harsh action like "suspension without pay"? Why a warning letter is not sufficient?

f) If you wish to take strong disciplinary action, then on what basis would you like to take? Do you have approved standing orders? If yes, then has misconduct of "signing documents without authority" been defined?

Please clarify the above-mentioned points. Suggestions can be given when we know completely what has happed in your company.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Ms Parvin,

Your thread has limited information on which Mr Dinesh Divekar has rightly sought few information for tendering appropriate opinion. However, from your query it is seen that the employee is posted at site as a Supervisor, then we have to see what job description/charter of duties was assigned to him. It is also not indicated as to what kind of work is being supervised at site by him. Generally a supervisor is responsible to verify the attendance of workers at site, the quantity of work/material at site and any other development/hindrance at site.

Here it is also a question as to how the document reached the Supervisor when it was not meant for him? The Site Incharge is required to exercise adequate control and supervision over the staff posted at site. The Site Incharge has also to give an explanation as to how the document reached the Supervisor.

It is apparent from your question that Supervisor was not authorized to sign a document, then it is obvious that authority/section/department required to take further action on that document would not take any action for further processing. Hence there appears to be little chance of any financial loss to company.

It may be noted that suspension is always temporary i.e. for a limited period in accordance with the rules/standing orders of the company. And during the suspension period the company has to make payment of Subsistence Allowance to the employee which depends upon his pay. So you cannot suspend without pay.

Since the employee is working for last 14 years he must have earned some credibility for his being retained in the Company. Therefore taking a strict action would not be advisable unless the Company has suffered financial loss or damge to its goodwill in the industry.

In my opinion it would be suitable to ask for an expanation and thereafer give him a recordable warning letter.

It appears that the Company needs to review promotion policy for its employees and redesign its charter of duties with specific functions as well as the Company also needs to frame its Conduct Rules for the employees clearly defining the misconducts.

Hope you will find it helpful.

Chandramani Lal Srivastava

Master Consultant-9315516083
New Delhi

From India, New Delhi

Merely for signing a document unauthorisedly, does it call for disciplinary action? Has it caused any prejudice to the company? Was it in the interest of the organisation, or out of sheer enthusiasm to show his confidence, competence and credibility in the organisation.
If there is no malafide, then the disciplinary action is not called for though it was highly improper and he has to be taken to task. More than signing the document, it is really unparadonable to suppress that information. Yet taking disciplinary action would give a message to all to stop taking initiative and walk the extra mile and would discourage all for going beyond their boundaries even if it costs the customer satisfaction.
So looking to all these factors and only after seeking his explanation, formally or still better orally, decide on the action to be taken.

From India, Mumbai
Nagarkar Vinayak L

Dear colleague,

I refer to the reply of Chandramani Lal Srivastava wherein he had stated that "You cannot suspend without pay".

Under Model Standing Orders , suspension is of two types, one is suspension pending and completion of the domestic enquiry subject payment of the subsistence allowance as applicable and another is suspension without pay by way of punishment up to maximum of four days after having issued show cause notice or the chargesheet calling for worker' s written explanation.

Therefore, to say that one cannot suspend without pay is not a correct legal position.


Vinayak Nagarkar

HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

Reference the clarification provided kindly by our Respected Member Shri Vinayak Nagarkar ji. The relevant provision of Model Standing Orders Clause No. 14 (1)(2) under Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Rules stipulates as under:
"(2) A workman may be suspended for a period not exceeding four days at a time or dismissed without notice or any compensation in lieu of notice, if he is found to be guilty of misconduct."

It may be noted that condition "without any compensation" is linked to dismissal with underlying principle that there shall be neither any notice nor any compensation in lieu of notice. The term compensation is not linked to suspension. The legal term for suspension is "Subsistence Allowance", not compensation.

Further clause stipulates as under:

"2[(b) A workman who is placed under suspension shall be paid subsistence allowance in accordance with the provisions of section 10A of the Act]."

It may be seen that an employee is entitled to Subsistence Allowance during suspension period which shall not be more than 4 days at time. Clause No.17 stipulates suspension during pendency of inquiry in which case the rule of maximum 4 days may not apply.

I may be corrected if I am missing in my understanding.

Regards and respect.
Chandra Mani Lal Srivastava
Master Consultant 9315516083

New Delhi.

From India, New Delhi
Nagarkar Vinayak L

Dear colleague,

Mr Srivastava 's clarification is correct. I referred to the suspension without wages to cases where certified standing orders or service rules expressly provide for it. In the absence of that , the suspension by way of punishment is with wages ( Not subsistence allowance).

Thanks Mr Srivastava.


Vinayak Nagarkar.
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

Dear Parvin,

As many people have already mentioned before, some vital details are required to answer this question.

Anyways, a suspension without pay is not an appropriate step since the employee has been associated with your company for more than 14 years.

If this mistake has happened for the very first time, he should be given a chance.

On the other hand, if he has made the same mistake in the past, you can give him a warning, either verbal or written.

Most importantly, make sure to have a word with him as well as explain his duties & rights clearly.

Not to forget, if he again commits the same mistake in the future, you can think of suspending him without a second thought.

I hope this answer helps you.

From India, Noida

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