Labour & Employment

Now get your Unpaid Salary

LegalKart Editor
LegalKart Editor 05 min read 48850 Views
What are you looking for

Non-payment of salary to the employees by their employers is very common. The employers are often under the misconception that the employees are either not aware of their rights or would hesitate to follow the complex procedure of filing a complaint against them. However, there are various laws that safeguard the rights of employees and to claim the unpaid salary as well as the interest in it. 

 


Legal Notice sent by the employee on account of unpaid dues

 

The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, ensures that employees get their salaries on time. However, if the employer denies or delays the payment of salary or wages to the employee or worker, then the employee or worker is entitled to interest on the amount to be paid for delay in providing the wages or salary. The employee then has the option of sending a legal notice to the employer for the payment of salary. A certain list of documents is required while sending a legal notice to the employer such as-:

 

  1. Proof of unpaid salary through bank statements, etc.
  2. Appointment letter
  3. Details of your salary, benefits, pay, and perks
  4. Copy of Employment Contract

 

Upon receiving the Legal Notice from his employee, the employer must pay the unpaid dues with interest to the employee. However, if the employer refuses or fails to do so, then further legal remedies such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy Mode, Arbitration and Mediation, and lawsuit can be opted by the employee for the recovery of dues. 

 

 

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016

 

In this method, the employee or a group of employees file a petition for the payment of unpaid salary under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. After filing a petition, a resolution professional is appointed, and a committee of creditors is set up. If a suitable conclusion is not arrived at for the payment of salary, then the company is liquidated. 

In order to file a complaint under IBC, the employee or employees must send a demand notice to the employer seeking the payment of unpaid dues. If the employer does not pay within the stipulated time, then the insolvency resolution process will be initiated against the company. Generally, such a process can be initiated by filing an application with the adjudicating authority, which is the National Company Law Tribunal or NCLT. 

 

 

Arbitration and Mediation

 

Arbitration is a costly method and can be used only if it is one of the clauses in the employment contract. Also, the decision arrived at in Arbitration is time-consuming in the matter of the application of the decision. Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third party comes to a hears the dispute of both the parties and helps to come to a decision in a peaceful manner. However, in this matter, Mediation can be useful only if the employer is willing to abide by the decision of the mediator.  

 

 

Filing of Lawsuit

 

The employee can file two types of suits under the law for the non-payment of salary-:

 

Civil Suit: an employee can file a civil suit under the Civil Procedure Code. Typically, the employee is required to send a legal notice demanding payment of dues to the employer. If the employer refuses or fails to do so the employee can initiate legal proceedings against the company. As per order 37 of the Civil Procedure Code, you may file a summary suit before the District Court. After filing a suit, summon is issued, and the employer has a period of 10 days to appear before the court. In case the employer fails to appear, then the decision is made in favour of the employee. The employee also must have some proof of employment and must mandatorily file a suit within three years from the date when the salary was due to him.


  
Criminal Suit: It is the liability of the employer to pay the salary to the employee on time. However, if he denies, refuses, or fails to do so, then the employee can file a criminal suit for cheating and breach of trust under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. 

 

The employer has paid the salary through cheque, which has bounced and thereafter refuses, or denies making a fresh payment, then the employee can file a suit under Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
 


Conclusion

 

It is pertinent that you know your rights as an employee. However, please note that if you work as a consultant or a professional on an independent basis, you may not be able to avail of the routes mentioned above, except filing a suit for breach of contract. You should approach a lawyer to understand and evaluate your options better.
 

When it comes to solving a legal problem, consulting a Legal Expert is the first thing you should do.

Be it your first consultation or a second opinion, don't wait, Talk to a LegalKart Expert NOW. Share your problem, facts and get an Unbiased, Honest and Right Advice.

Talk To Lawyer

Suggested Articles

Pensioner can file case from the place where he belonged to or was receiving pension: Supreme Court
Labour & Employment

Pensioner can file case from the place where he belonged to or was receiving pension: Supreme Court

Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.3630 of 2020 (arising out of SLP (C) No.18375/2018)

Referred Acts in the Judgement:

  • Coal Mines Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1948
  • The Coal Mines Pension Scheme, 1988
  • The Coal Mines Family Pension Scheme, 1971
  • The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  • The Constitution of India, 1950

Facts of the Case:

The case related to a retired employee Mr.B.N.Mishra (Appellant), who was an employee at Coal India Limited till 2005. Mr.Mishra withdrew his pension for eight (08) years. After which, Coal India Limited stopped providing his pension in the year 2013 stating that Mr.Mishra did not opt for the Coal Mines Family Pension Scheme, 1988. In addition to this, Mr.Mishra was asked to refund a sum of Rs.8 Lakhs which was drawn by him previously.

 

Key happenings in the matter Chronologically:

1.Patna High Court (08.02.2013)

The said stoppage of pension and refund was challenged by Wife (Shanti Mishra) of Late Mr.Mishra at Patna High Court by way of Writ Petition No.13955/2006. The said Writ Petition was dismissed by the High Court on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. The Applicant could either file in West Bengal (where the pension authority was located) or Jharkhand.

 

2. High Court of Jharkhand (2014)

The above dismissal was challenged by the Wife by way of another Writ Petition No.4930/2013 before High Court of Jharkhand. High Court dismissed the Writ Petition 2014 due to lack of territorial jurisdiction.

 

3. Supreme Court: (2020)

After the said dismissal, Wife appealed the Supreme Court wherein the Hon’ble Court made the following observations that:

  1. The Mr.Mishra was residing at Darbhanga, Bihar after his retirement and he received his pension at the same place for over eight (08) years;
  2. The Writ Petition filed at High Court of Jharkhand was filed under correct territorial jurisdiction and High Court was wrong in dismissing the Writ Petition;
  3. Wife of Late Mr.Mishra is a widow and is living her life without any pension support.

In the light of above observations, Supreme Court granted provisional pension to the Wife and held that if a part of cause of action arises at a certain place then a Writ Petition is maintainable in that place under Article 226(2) of the Constitution of India. For the said purpose, Hon’ble Court referred cases such as Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd. Vs. Union of India and Anr., [(2004) 6 SCC 254] and Nawal Kishore Sharma Vs. Union of India and Ors., [(2014) 9 SCC 329].

Read the Judgement here:

https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2018/25048/25048_2018_34_1501_24598_Judgement_05-Nov-2020.pdf

Termination of Service, Layoffs and Retrenchments - Legal Viewpoint
Labour & Employment

Termination of Service, Layoffs and Retrenchments - Legal Viewpoint

This article contemplates and articulates the broad legalities and operational standpoint on Termination of employees from Service, Lay-off, and Retrenchment so as to allow the business management to make well-informed decisions weighing legalities against business objectives. Law provides broad-level directives and guidelines which companies shall have to oblige and comply with, without compromising the interests of the subject matter of the Act (welfare of workforce). Employment and Labour laws are a cumbersomely clumsy, yet comprehensive compendium of labour Acts applicable to deal with the law relating to employment and labour aspects. The common objective of all is to provide safeguard and protection to varied kinds of the workforce, be it an employee, workman, contract employee, etc., working in varied lines of business at different levels from daily wager to contract labour and all kinds of employees in between. Apparently, although different laws govern varied kinds of the workforce, these laws have effectively achieved the main objective of providing protection to a varied workforce. In a basic sense, this law governs the relationship between the employer-employee, covering the workforce in varied spectrums. 

 

The government has been working to enact uniform labour code to condense varied employment legislations at central and state levels to bring in comprehensive legislation to simplify compliances for employers and thereby achieve better workforce protection.

 

The definitions of lay-offs and retrenchment are specifically covered under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. However, while determining the termination of service of employee it is pertinent to delve into the spectrum of Labour and Employment Acts and regulations which are prevalent in India in order to take statutorily compliant decisions taking into account the business objectives of the company.

 

 

INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947 - (The ID Act)

The law relating to lay-offs and retrenchment is specifically expounded under Chapter VA (Entitled, Layoff and Retrenchment) and Chapter VB (Concerning, Special provisions relating to Lay-Off, Retrenchment, and Closure in Certain Establishment) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. These two chapters in ID Act elaborately delineates provisions relating to Lay-offs and Retrenchment.

 

It is imperative to understand the applicability of the Act, since the objective, purpose and applicability of every act are different, and so contemplating and analyzing the applicability of relevant law to the issue in hand is the key to arriving at a targeted solution. The ID Act is applicable to a certain class of workmen as defined under Section 2(s) of the Act. “Workman” means

 

"Any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied, and for the purposes of any proceeding under this Act in relation to an industrial dispute, includes any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with, or as a consequence of, that dispute, or whose dismissal, discharge or retrenchment has led to that dispute”

 

Further, notably, there are certain exclusions to the definition of a workman, and according to the Act, Workman who is,

(i) in a managerial or administrative capacity; or

 

(ii) employed in a supervisory capacity, draws wages exceeding ten thousand rupees per mensem, or exercises, either by the nature of the duties attached to the office or by reason of the powers vested in him, functions mainly of a managerial nature, are express exclusions to the definition.

 

As such, this Act does not become applicable to the sizable spectrum of employees working in various organizations or companies either due to their nature of work or earning being at a higher scale.

 

This Act has provided lucid definition to the words “lay-offs” and “retrenchments” under Section 2(kkk) and Section 2(oo) of the Act and the extract thereof is below.

 

"Lay-Off (with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions) means the failure, refusal or inability of an employer on account of shortage of coal, power or raw materials or the accumulation of stocks or the breakdown of machinery [or natural calamity or for any other connected reason] to give employment to a workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of his industrial establishment and who has not been retrenched."

 

Explanation: Every workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of the industrial establishment and who presents himself for work at the establishment at the time appointed for the purpose during normal working hours on any day and is not given employment by the employer within two hours of his so presenting himself shall be deemed to have been laid-off for that day within the meaning of this clause:

 

Provided that if the workman, instead of being given employment at the commencement of any shift for any day is asked to present himself for the purpose during the second half of the shift for the day and is given employment then, he shall be deemed to have been laid- off only for one-half of that day 

 

Provided further that if he is not given any such employment even after so presenting himself, he shall not be deemed to have been laid-off for the second half of the shift for the day and shall be entitled to full basic wages and dearness allowance for that part of the day.

 

Retrenchment means the termination by the employer of the service of a workman for any reason whatsoever, otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include-

(a) voluntary retirement of the workman; or

 

(b) retirement  of the workman on reaching the age of superannuation if the contract of employment between the employer and  the workman concerned contains a stipulation in that behalf; or

 

(c) termination of the service of the workman as a result of the non-renewal of the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned on its expiry or of such contract being terminated under a stipulation in that behalf contained therein; or

 

(d) termination of the service of a workman on the ground of continued ill-health"

 

 

The law relating to lay-off and retrenchment is effectively applicable for the workman in industrial establishment, as defined under the Act, and effectively, the scope and validity of these provisions to said workman are categorically restricted to certain persons employed in an industry subjected to exclusions as delineated under the definition of the workman. 

 

Bare reading of the Act clearly indicates that employees working in companies with salaries higher than the limit applicable for the workman, or who are in managerial or administrative capacity does not fall within the ambit of the scope of the said Act. Given the exclusions, the scope and applicability of the Industrial Disputes Act are limited to the workman as defined under the said Act.

 

 

THE SHOPS AND ESTABLISHMENT ACT, 1988 (The SE Act)

 

The SE Act regulates the law relating to the regulation of employment and conditions of service of workers employed in shops and establishments for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. This is a state enacted law and every state enacts its own Act. This Act has vast applicability as the words” commercial establishment” and “shops” have wide applicability covering businesses and organizations in varied sectors and industries.

 

As per the Act, the term Commercial Establishment means “an establishment which carries on any trade, business, profession or any work in connection with or incidental or ancillary to any such trade, business or profession or which is a clerical department of a factory or an industrial undertaking or which is a commercial or trading or banking or insurance establishment and includes an establishment under the management and control of a co-operative society, an establishment of a factory or an industrial undertaking which falls outside the scope of the Factories Act, 1948, (Central Act 63 of 1948), and such other establishment as the Government may, by notification declare to be a commercial establishment for the purposes of this Act but does not include a shop.”. The meaning of word Shops means “any premises where any trade or business is carried on or where services are rendered to customers and includes a shop run by a Co-operative Society, an office, a storeroom, godown, warehouse or workplace, whether in the same premises or otherwise, used in connection with such trade or business and such other establishments as the Government may, by notification, declare to be a shop for the purposes of this Act, but does not include a commercial establishment”. 

 

It is important to understand the sect of employees who are governed by the said Act, and the definition of Employee under the SE Act means “A person wholly or principally employed in, and in connection with, any establishment and includes an apprentice and any clerical or other staff of a factory or industrial establishment who fall outside the scope of the Factories Act, 1948; (Central Act, 63 of 1948).”, and the said definitions had certain stipulated exclusions. This definition widely encompasses employees in organized as well as unorganized sectors which relatively include higher income groups.

 

Contextually, understanding the exemptions to the Act is equally important to apply the relevant labour Act righteously to any given situation. Under the said Act, Section 79 deals with exemptions to the applicability of the Act, and the exemptions delineated under the Act are “employees in any establishment in a position of management and having control over the affairs of the establishment, whose average monthly wages exceed sixteen hundred rupees”. 

 

In “T. Prem Sagar vs The Standard Vacuum Oil Company Madras and Others”, the apex court had laid down certain tests to ascertain whether an employee is in a position of management and extract of the judgment is provided below. 

 

So, in order to determine whether a person is in a position of management or not, the factors to be considered are whether the person had the power to operate on the  Bank account, whether he could make payments to third parties and enter into agreements with them on behalf of the employer, whether he was entitled to represent the employer to the world at large in regard to the dealings of the employer with strangers, whether he had the authority to supervise the work of the clerks employed in the establishment, whether he had control and charge of the correspondence, whether he could make commitments on behalf of the employer, whether he could grant leave to the members of the staff and hold disciplinary proceedings against them and whether he had the power to appoint members of the staff or punish them. The salary drawn by an employee may have no significance and may not be material though it may be treated theoretically as a relevant factor.”

 

The apex court had emphasized the applicability of the tests laid out under the said judgment that they should be considered against the facts of the case, particularly taking into account the nature and scope of work of the employee in the broader perspective of his/her work functions and responsibilities. 

 

In accordance with provisions of the SE Act, in case any employee falls within the purview of the SE Act, the employer shall have to strictly comply with obligations of serving of notice period or alternatively pay wages in lieu thereof to employees in case employee is terminated of services of employment.   

 

 

LAW APPLICABLE FOR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS

 

Considering the limited construct of the word “Workman” under the Industrial Disputes Act, the applicability and enforceability of ID Act are limited (as aforementioned). Now the majority of Multinational Companies, Start-ups, Information Technology and IT-Enabled Services (ITES), and industrial establishments have the manpower of varied spectrum of employees, operating at different levels. No single Act may be applicable to all kinds of manpower, and so it is important to delve into various labour and employment Acts that are prevailing. 

 

Further, from the preceding analysis, it is evident that lay-off and retrenchment of workman would be dealt as per the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, and the Shops and Establishment Act stipulates provisions concerning termination of services of employees. However, the applicability of the Act would differ on a case-to-case basis depending on the nature of the job, income, nature of work, exemptions provided under the Act, etc., and therefore, application of relevant labour and employment Act is critical.

 

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Shops and Establishment Act does not apply to the employees in any establishment in a position of management and having control over the affairs of the establishment, whose average monthly wages exceed sixteen hundred rupees. However, employees falling under the purview of the SE Act would be governed with regard to matters of Wages, Conditions for termination of services appeals, suspension, and terminal benefits, under Chapter VIII of the said Act.

 

Particularly, where Act is applicable to employees Section 47 of the Telangana Shops and Establishment Act stipulates conditions for terminating the services of an employee, payment of service compensation for termination, retirement, resignation, disablement, etc., and payment of subsistence allowance for the period of suspension. Pursuant to the said provision, “no employer shall, without a reasonable cause terminate the service of an employee who has been in his employment continuously for a period of not less than six months without giving such employee at least one month notice in writing or wages in lieu thereof and in respect of an employee who has been in his employment continuously for a period of not less than one year, a service compensation amounting to fifteen days average wages for each year of continuous employment”. While the said provision under the Act is illustrative, the above extract of the Section highlights that serving of notice period is mandatory for termination, retirement, resignation, disablement etc.,. Therefore, the companies will have to consider the mandatory notice period and service compensation guidelines illustrated under the said provision.

 

It is imperative to also take into account that evidently, hordes of the workforce falls to the exemptions of the Industrial Disputes Act and the Shops and Establishment Act, 1988, as a result of an employee being in the position of management or extensive salary packages, etc., In such a scenario, the governing document will be the Employment Agreement and applicable company policies, as the may be agreed between employer and employee. 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT

 

The law prescribes the compliance framework and guidelines for companies to adhere to and comply with. However, companies may set-up pragmatic and workable workforce management and operational framework keeping in compliance with the applicable legal framework. In the event of any doubt, apropos the minimum compliance standards and framework, it is prudent to delve into the Acts and legal precedents before taking any decision. 

 

Ideally, the Employment Agreement should strike a balance between the applicable legal framework and interests of the company

 

The employment agreement is an important document, as it legally binds and governs the relationship between employer and employee. So, if the employment agreement had legally enforceable provisions in line with applicable laws, then the employer's decisions in regard to termination of an employee from service will be governed by the provisions of this Employment Agreement.   

 

 

GALVANIZING EFFECT OF COVID-19

 

In the wake of the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 pandemic and declaration of WHO that it is global health pandemic, the governments across global have taken unprecedented measures and many countries including India have locked down their nations restricting trade and commerce. Indisputability, lockdown measures although it helped nations to minimize the damage or loss of lives to a greater effect, yet this pandemic leads to the onset of economic crisis and market meltdown creating an adverse ripple effect across the global economies. The restrictions imposed by governments resulted in impacting the businesses in all areas ranging from exports/imports, transport, logistics, productivity, investment, etc.,. In other words, the market is in standstill mode with uncertainties leering from all corners of the world. With unpredicted and unprecedented meltdown, it is becoming difficult to ascertain the future. 

 

The companies started experiencing less revenues and cash crunches due to steep plunge in the business operations, and virtually the businesses are preparing for a market meltdown by taking expeditious remedial steps. The major cost for any company is Human Resources and second, technological advancement. With clampdown of global operations, projects ramp down is underway and eventually, the companies would enter into cost-cutting mode and may result in laying-off and retrenchment of an employee in order to sustain the crisis.

 

In case companies are taking steps of lay-offs, retrenchment, and termination of services, then it would be prudent of Companies to follow legalities and be compliant so as to avoid the influx of litigation that may arise as a result of illegal termination of employment. Simple measures will mitigate future litigation expenses. 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Employer-employee or Employer-workman relationship is regulated by various labour and employment laws. However, in the context of lay-offs, retrenchment, and termination of services of an employee, predominantly, two Acts, namely the Industrial disputes Act and the state relevant Shops and Establishment Act governs and stipulates the law and procedures pertaining thereto. The ID Act governs the relationship between workman-employer and the SE Act of employee-employer. However, there is a class of employees who do not fall within the ambit of both acts due to depending facts such as remuneration, type of employment, nature of work, etc. Therefore, there is no straight forward formula for determining the applicability of provisions and so it is important to delve into applicable law and precedents so as to get a legal solution. 

 

Companies as a practice enter into an employment agreement and bind their employees to comply with various company policies (such as leave policy, maternity policy, etc.). However, execution of employment agreement does not absolve the obligations of the company to comply with applicable Act and regulations, and it is imperative that employment agreement should be drafted and amended from time-to-time in strict compliance with applicable amending regulations. Employment Agreement which is not in line with applicable law may fall to the ground in the eyes of the law. From a high-level perspective, the employment agreement and company policies applicable to its employees play a vital role in streamlining the management of human resources, without compromising on legalities surrounding thereto. As such, companies should audit the human resources portfolio and accordingly implement an effective employment agreement that works both statutorily and organizationally.  This employment agreement will govern the procedure of lay-offs, retrenchment, and/or termination of services, in case the ID Act and the SE Act are not applicable to particular class of workforce.

 

 

Authored by: RAMYA KUNAPAREDDY

Corporate and Litigation Lawyer, Hyderabad

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is solely the author’s personal analysis and interpretation. In case you wish to act upon the basis of the content of this article, please seek legal advice. The author shall not be responsible for any loss you may incur as a result of your actions relying upon this content. The content herein is the copyright of the author and is informational and shall not be used for commercial purposes other than for personal reading.

Now get your Unpaid Salary
Labour & Employment

Now get your Unpaid Salary

Non-payment of salary to the employees by their employers is very common. The employers are often under the misconception that the employees are either not aware of their rights or would hesitate to follow the complex procedure of filing a complaint against them. However, there are various laws that safeguard the rights of employees and to claim the unpaid salary as well as the interest in it. 

 


Legal Notice sent by the employee on account of unpaid dues

 

The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, ensures that employees get their salaries on time. However, if the employer denies or delays the payment of salary or wages to the employee or worker, then the employee or worker is entitled to interest on the amount to be paid for delay in providing the wages or salary. The employee then has the option of sending a legal notice to the employer for the payment of salary. A certain list of documents is required while sending a legal notice to the employer such as-:

 

  1. Proof of unpaid salary through bank statements, etc.
  2. Appointment letter
  3. Details of your salary, benefits, pay, and perks
  4. Copy of Employment Contract

 

Upon receiving the Legal Notice from his employee, the employer must pay the unpaid dues with interest to the employee. However, if the employer refuses or fails to do so, then further legal remedies such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy Mode, Arbitration and Mediation, and lawsuit can be opted by the employee for the recovery of dues. 

 

 

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016

 

In this method, the employee or a group of employees file a petition for the payment of unpaid salary under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. After filing a petition, a resolution professional is appointed, and a committee of creditors is set up. If a suitable conclusion is not arrived at for the payment of salary, then the company is liquidated. 

In order to file a complaint under IBC, the employee or employees must send a demand notice to the employer seeking the payment of unpaid dues. If the employer does not pay within the stipulated time, then the insolvency resolution process will be initiated against the company. Generally, such a process can be initiated by filing an application with the adjudicating authority, which is the National Company Law Tribunal or NCLT. 

 

 

Arbitration and Mediation

 

Arbitration is a costly method and can be used only if it is one of the clauses in the employment contract. Also, the decision arrived at in Arbitration is time-consuming in the matter of the application of the decision. Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third party comes to a hears the dispute of both the parties and helps to come to a decision in a peaceful manner. However, in this matter, Mediation can be useful only if the employer is willing to abide by the decision of the mediator.  

 

 

Filing of Lawsuit

 

The employee can file two types of suits under the law for the non-payment of salary-:

 

Civil Suit: an employee can file a civil suit under the Civil Procedure Code. Typically, the employee is required to send a legal notice demanding payment of dues to the employer. If the employer refuses or fails to do so the employee can initiate legal proceedings against the company. As per order 37 of the Civil Procedure Code, you may file a summary suit before the District Court. After filing a suit, summon is issued, and the employer has a period of 10 days to appear before the court. In case the employer fails to appear, then the decision is made in favour of the employee. The employee also must have some proof of employment and must mandatorily file a suit within three years from the date when the salary was due to him.


  
Criminal Suit: It is the liability of the employer to pay the salary to the employee on time. However, if he denies, refuses, or fails to do so, then the employee can file a criminal suit for cheating and breach of trust under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. 

 

The employer has paid the salary through cheque, which has bounced and thereafter refuses, or denies making a fresh payment, then the employee can file a suit under Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
 


Conclusion

 

It is pertinent that you know your rights as an employee. However, please note that if you work as a consultant or a professional on an independent basis, you may not be able to avail of the routes mentioned above, except filing a suit for breach of contract. You should approach a lawyer to understand and evaluate your options better.
 

What To Do When Wrongfully Terminated From Employment?
Labour & Employment

What To Do When Wrongfully Terminated From Employment?

Wrongful termination of employees refers to when the employees are terminated on account of wrongful means. The different grounds on which the termination of employees is known as wrongful termination are-:

 

  1. Discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, caste, gender, age, rationality, and many more,
  2. When the company has specified certain guidelines for the termination of an employee and those guidelines are violated,
  3. If public policy is violated,

 

The Employment Contract signed by the employer and the employee defines the procedure of terminating the employee. The contract may or may not have provisions regarding the procedure for the termination of employees; if it contains a procedure, then it must comply with the Labour laws; however, if it does have any such specific procedure, then the employer must follow the state-specific labour law. The two types of terminations of employees are-:

 

 

Termination by Contract: The employment contracts specifies a particular procedure for the termination of the employee. This method of termination is more popular. This form of termination is more common in a fixed-term employment contract, where an employee is hired for a fixed period of time. If the contract is not renewed by the employer, then the employee is automatically terminated, which does not amount to wrongful termination.

Termination by Law: In the absence of a provision for the procedure of termination of an employee, the employer must follow the state-specific labour law.

 

 

Termination Procedures in India

Termination for a cause: of disobedience, theft, fraud, lack of punctuality, accepting of bribe, dishonest, causing damage to the company's goods, negligence of work.

Ordinary termination: is the most standard procedure for the termination of an employee. In it, the employer must provide the employee with 30 days' notice to the employee.

 

 

Laws to protect the employees from wrongful termination of employees

 

There are various labour laws in India, such as the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, State Shops and Establishments Acts, which protect the employees from wrongful termination.

 

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947: Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, states that if an employee has been employed for more than a year, then the employer can terminate him only after permission is granted to him by a suitable government office. Also, he must provide a valid reason for terminating the employee and pay severance amount (equal to 15 day's salary) to the employee for the number of years he has worked under him.

 

Make a formal complaint: The employee has been wrongfully terminated by the employer; then, the employee must first make a formal complaint to the Human Resource (HR) Department. Many times if the employee has been wrongfully terminated then the HR Department will resolve the issue and restore the job of the employee, however, if the HR Department does not take any action then the employee must send a legal notice to the employer to seek the damages, such as-:

  1. Back Pay
  2. Lost Benefits
  3. Out-of-pocket losses
  4. Injunctive Relief
  5. Punitive Damages
  6. Severance Package
  7. Retrenchment Compensation
  8. Health Insurance
  9. Provident Fund

In case a contractual provision is violated, then the employee can file a civil suit in the Labour Court. For initiating charges of Criminal Intimidation, the employee can file suits in criminal as well as civil courts.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In India, the employment laws are complicated. The employers who wrongfully terminates his employees do know the laws and methods through which the employees can claim remedy, thus the employers also know ways to get out of the loopholes and avoid the liability. However, the employees must know their rights and more so as to what factors or grounds constitute wrongful termination and thus must file a suit against the employer for wrongful termination.

Impact of COVID-19 On Project Financing
Company

Impact of COVID-19 On Project Financing

The impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cannot be miscalculated in project finance, as this virus is considered as a global pandemic and has resulted in the closedown of construction work and its related operations. The consequences can be seen as slow production and manufacturing of necessary equipment in projects are delayed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 which means the supply chain will be disrupted worldwide. Moreover, in project financing, Project Company is usually considered as a special purpose vehicle (SPV), and pursuant to present critical situation lenders are having no recourse to sponsors where the project is not performing as per the expected plan. But considering the different scenarios as the government now is hacking interest rates and making banking rules more convenient at this time of financial crunch.


Due to lower interest rates, demand for financing the new upcoming projects will increase along with debt financing and this effect will operate for the long term from the present. However, this article provides a snapshot of FORCE MAJEURE clause activation in project financing, how to get through the force majeure risk, and what all are the necessary consideration for the purpose of force majeure. Along with the force majeure aspect this article will also focus upon other immediate impacts on project financing due to COVID-19.

 


ACTIVATION OF FORCE-MAJEURE IN PROJECT FINANCING

Force majeure clause comes into play when one party is unable to perform his contractual obligation which he needs to perform and due to natural circumstances i.e. unforeseeable circumstance’s which includes acts of war and natural disaster, he was hindered or delayed in performing the same. Force majeure is governed by Section 32 and Section 56 of Indian Contract Act, 1872 and is also considered as exception to what amounts to breach of contract. This concept is explained in detail in one of the celebrated Supreme Court Judgement titled Energy Watch Dog vs. CERC. Usually this concept of force majeure is prevalent in project financing and construction cases. In an epidemic or pandemic scenario, like of COVID-19 this clause gets into play by contractor in construction project because he is the first one to encounter the consequences because of disrupted supply chain. When the force majeure clause is invoked due to the COVID-19 outbreak there is no surety that the contractor will succeed because it will depend on contractual interpretation whether this outbreak will be considered as “epidemic” or not.

 


After invoking force majeure number of key considerations arose which are as follows:

  1. Project Company has to ascertain that whether force majeure will succeed as per the interpretation of construction contract and this has to be done with the limited time frame.
  2. Assessing the evidences and circumstances which will prove that due to COVID-19, project company/contractor is unable to perform their obligation. Also, on the basis of a contractual agreement between the parties, it demands the contractor to prove that he is being prevented by the force majeure event to carry on his contractual obligation. Furthermore, the contractor also needs to produce the evidence to prove his onus pertaining to the contract

 

Now in order to analyze the force majeure in the contract the contractor or say the project company has to establish connectedness between the qualifying force majeure event and the impact to its performance of contractual obligations, and in most of the cases this will be based upon factual circumstances which will differ from case to case basis. Due to government measures that are related to business lockdown, mandatory quarantine measures, which will directly affect the working of the project and contractual obligations can be considered as evidence for the activation of force majeure clause. Concerned expert feedback would be required for the collection and preparation of evidence for notices of force majeure.

 

This also requires the affected to take steps in order to mitigate the force majeure events and it is considered as an obligation upon the affected party to do so. Also, it was required to draft or take the alternative options in consideration to perform the obligations pertaining to the contract and it would be advantageous to take remedying measures to address the impact due to unforeseeable events like COVID-19. However, in order to ensure that the claim is not time-barred, time is an essential ingredient for the notice requirement for the purpose of force majeure claim.

 


HOW TO TACKLE FORCE MAJEURE RISK?

The loopholes in the force majeure clause should be taken into consideration and such gaps should be addressed when the project documents were subject to bankability due diligence. Bankable project documents will typically contain similar force majeure provisions and the contractor's notice of force majeure will form part of the project company's notice in the project documents. Also, if there is any discrepancy or say loophole is identified, then the force majeure will be tested through the COVID-19 outbreak.


Further, others get through consideration include the timeline for submission for force majeure clause. In practice, the contractor and the project company may be engaged in negotiations or discussions on the impact of force majeure and will, therefore, need to consider the timelines that are running in parallel. Usually, Project documents with future cash flows contain time which provides a sufficient amount of time to project companies to provide its notice of force majeure under the upstream project documents. Another important contemplation is the different governing laws for project documents. Offshore construction contracts will be governed by English law, but on the other hand, power purchase agreements should be governed by the local law. Therefore, if the risks associated with different governing laws are not mitigated when the project documents were being developed, contractual interpretation of force majeure provisions can be difficult.


Moreover, the party claiming force majeure has to prove that he has taken all reasonable circumstances in order to avoid or mitigate the risk and its effect. Thus, this will depend upon case to case basis and in project company case contractor has to prove the same. In project financing consideration under financial document needs to be taken care of, project lenders are widely analyzing the COVID-19 outbreak as they begin receiving notices related to force majeure and due to which they cannot wash their hands off this outbreak. This outbreak requires taking steps in financial documents that are in consonance to the terms of the project document. Furthermore, after receiving the notice of force majeure the project lender has to consider carefully the impact on the project and positions under the financial document. Also, prior consent is also required before agreeing to any relief obtained through force majeure and certain time constraints need to be undertaken by the project company in this case.

 


EVENTS WITH ITS NEGATIVE IMPACT

After considering force majeure scenario there are other events too which will be triggered due to COVID-19 outbreak in project financing and major of these defaults might extend to necessary parties involved in the successful completion of the project that is construction contractor, operator, and main manufactures of necessary equipment’s. Default events are as follows:

 

  1. Emerging Economies: COVID-19 outbreak affected economy drastically which would be clearly seen through interruptions created in supply chains, fall in exchange rates, limited support, or say financial support of government for projects as impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. Whilst it also includes travel restrictions, the lockdown of major working sites and financial covenants involved in the projects are also affected. Thus, this pandemic affected economy but it insurances should be taken into consideration to take up protection form this drastic effect and all these measures should be taken into consideration by the project company, lenders, and all sponsors, who may be coming under pressure due to this outbreak.
  2. On-going Projects: one should expect, that this outbreak already affected on-going construction projects due to hampered supply chain and labour availability worldwide. In India, labourers are going back home because of this outbreak and it is expected that this impact will be amplified in the future. Further, as the government has taken initiatives in lowering interest rates and baking measures which will benefit the upcoming projects in the future but presently debt financing and tax equity financing is going through a negative impact. Lack of funds would be witnessed pertaining to the on-going projects which will attract defaulting lending provision in loan documentation.
  3. Material adverse effect clauses: ongoing projects which contain Material adverse effect clause, will get triggered because of circumstances that arose due to COVID-19. Further, this clause will be activated when specifically the situation or say circumstances will affect the project. Thus, there should be material adverse effect and circumstances from case to case basis has to be administered and considered. In my opinion, this clause will get in activation mode because each and every project is hampered due to this virus outbreak. Also, the borrower should inform the lender about these circumstances from time to time.
  4. Financial ratios: The effect of COVID-19 as of now cannot be said to be accurate because it is still in action and according to the Health Ministry and government inputs it may extend for some more time. Due to which debt financing or tax equity financing will hamper but the project financing sector will surely bounce back with a boom in itself from this recession as it was earlier seen in the 1987 recession. The present slashing interest rates and tax incentive proposal will allow the project finance sector to recover.

 

Considering the impact, Project Company has to take the following measures:

 

  1.  A project-related review should be done by the project companies so that it can analyze the impact which the project has to go through due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As seen in normal circumstances the risk associated with the project will be the supply of necessary equipment, labour availability risk, financial covenant risk, and other lending and funding scenario. Whilst with the effect of COVID-19 these risks will get one level up and due to the slowing of economy financial crunch will also arise in project financing.
  2. Major contracts involved in project financing like an employment contract, shareholder agreement, the loan agreement should be critically analyzed in respect of termination, force majeure, and law jurisdiction and dispute resolution mechanism. Also, repayment covenants, information covenants, events of defaults should be critically reviewed.
  3. A detailed review of Supply chains should be done so that an alternate option can be finalized in advance by the project company. This step should be in respect to mitigating the losses and reasonable steps that can foresee.
  4. Expected outcome after inserting force majeure and list of events in which it can be invoked and other ways as stated earlier about how to get out of the force majeure and compliances which are necessary as per Indian Contract Act, 1872.
  5. Consider developments or impacts of steps taken up by the government pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak with respect to project financing along with tax implication involved. Also, the Project Company should amend all it’s an important document well in advance so that it can save time and cost for the same.

 

 

CONCLUSION


COVID-19 outbreak is spreading at an alarming rate due to which economy is diversely affected and the project finance sector is also facing uncertainties through the hampered supply chain, labour availabilities, financial crunch, and unforeseen circumstances. This outbreak has also affected debt financing and tax equity involved in project financing. Further, continuous monitoring of government policies are required for project financing. So, at last, after considering the crucial aspects of force majeure, the negative impact of several defaults due to the COVID-19 outbreak is one of the worst nightmares in today’s economic sense for project financing.

 

Authored By: Vaibhav Chauhan

JEMTEC School of Law

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is solely the author’s personal analysis and interpretation. In case you wish to act upon on the basis of the content of this article, please seek legal advice. The author shall not be responsible for any loss you may incur as a result of your actions relying upon this content. The content herein is the copyrighted material of the author and is informational and shall not be used for commercial purposes other than for personal reading.

Business Lookouts During COVID-19
Company

Business Lookouts During COVID-19

Businesses are experiencing unprecedented challenges and market disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequential economic meltdown seems inevitable. Economists predict that economy is now dealing with a situation far worse than the global recession of 2008. We are not prepared to deal with this situation since no business has anticipated or predicted menace to this extent, where globally national borders are locked down halting global market and business operations. 

 

Importantly, we are dealing with a war waged by the unknown, and nations are fighting to safeguard and protect their people and economy. In this context, businesses/ entrepreneur has to operate sustainably, and it is important to set up and administer certain proactive measures to mitigate financial and business losses. These special circumstances require special measures to sustain and thrive, and this article covers some measures that companies may imbibe to thrive over the crisis and to sustain. 

Pragmatic ideation and proactive resolution will mitigate the impact of impending problems”

 

 

WORK FROM HOME

Work From Home is not an exception but has become a Rule”

Legally, the success of a business and its sustenance depends on how well it protects its confidential information and trade secrets. Especially, in times like now, it has become imperative not only to have sustainable business modus operandi to thrive and succeed during bad market conditions but also to protect what has been already built through years of hard work. This sounds simple yet very difficult to implement and execute in the frontline. 

 

Employees are key to every organization. Their performance and conduct in operating the business decide the company's future. Good employees build a successful business and the bad ones ruin the organization. A simple claim or lawsuit will change the future of the company or drag the company into darkness (third party infringement and damages suits), so the company should explicitly set out the framework within which the employees have to function within the company. 

 

With a large number of employees working remotely at the comfort of their houses, the management is now grappling with the management of infrastructure to facilitate employees with work from home access and to keep the business running. While companies are dealing with infrastructure difficulties, protection of confidential information and trade secrets should be set on high priority in order to avoid future uncertainties and to govern the way the organization continues to operate within an uncontrolled environment of homes of the employees.

 

Measures: Implementing effective policies and conduct awareness training programs so as to how to operate and function while working at the comfort of home. Data Protection Policy, Information Technology and Security Policy and Work from Home Policy are few policies that companies should implement and effectuate measures for protection of data and confidential information.

 

 

STRUCTURE BUSINESS CONTRACTS

Businesses don’t operate in silos but are reliant upon clients, service providers, and customers (the list may vary business to business). It is important to evaluate and strategically secure and retain existing business connections. Practically, retaining old clients is a cost-effective measure, since securing new clients is a costly affair during this market meltdown. The business relationship with the client is regulated by a document called “Agreement” and this provides how to govern and operate during the subsistence of the agreement.

 

An agreement may be implied or express contract. Where the terms of the agreement are explicit, the business should evaluate the risks and be prepared for any foreseeable risks that may arise in the current market circumstances and protect itself from the unforeseen risks (Force Majeure Clause). For implied and unwritten business arrangement, the company will be operating in an uncontrolled and ungoverned territory and may cost the company irreparably, if things don’t operate the way they are supposed to, and legal binding of the implied agreement depends on external factors and burden of proving the transaction and losses are high. So, the management should focus on dealing with the governing business through the Agreements.

 

Agreement decides whether you have a falling business or scope to rise above the troubled water.”

 

It is imperative to work along with the legal team to overcome the uncertainties and to operate within a controlled business environment. In the interest of economies of scale of business, as a rule, litigation should be the last resort. When agreement provides for business certainty why take long shots with regard to company future.

 

As such, in case a client (or a set of clients) is important for the survival of a business, then the business should take proactive measures to re-negotiate, re-design, or structure the transaction to make it sustainable to both the business and the clients. If you are expensive to your client, your dealings with them are bound to fall to the ground. Importantly, be the first to make a proposal for restructuring a transaction before your clients make a decision against you and it’s too late.

 

Change is constant, adaption is a rule and knowing when to adapt will decide the success” 

 

Conventionally, business teams are oriented to gain business, finance to control costs and project profits, so they pay no heed to transactional risks. Inevitably, in order to succeed, the leaders have to make decisions that involve exposure to risk. However, it is important to take calculative and informed decisions with regard to such a risk exposure and the same has to be documented through an agreement to avoid uncertainties and ambiguity. Drawing up an agreement is not just a good-to-have measure, but it is a tool to resolve conflicts in case of disputes. 

 

To be triumphant, all teams should collaborate and structure a workable business transaction for the clients. Overpromising-Underperformance and low promises and overperformance both strategies kill the business, but a sustainable, performance and an achievable business agreement works well for all and leads business to a successful path. In this, the legal contribution would be to enlighten the business with unbiased views of the nature of risk and consequences that may arise therefrom.

 

Notably, business conglomerates are successful in a way they are, since they operate and function by making informed decision knowing their exposure and risks, and on the contrary, start-ups can’t afford legal costs and hence fall prey in the hands of business eagles who specialize in acquiring businesses at low cost (or no cost). As a result, start-ups rise and fall over-night. 

 

Measures: Evaluate your business agreement and understand the cost-value proposition as the deal/ transaction stands. In essence, restructuring your business agreement to current market will help companies to retain clients. This task also helps companies to evaluate high-cost clientele and to allocate funds to sustain the business or make the decision to let go of a client for the larger good.

 

 

SUMMARY

Pragmatic and proactive measures make to business sustainable and keep it afloat.”

This article outlines legal measures which the business managers have to evaluate and reconsider under the Covid-19 crisis. It aims to highlight the common areas of lacuna in business operations. Pragmatic and proactive measures make the business sustainable and keep it afloat. Introspection into business processes, models, operations, and business flow, and the results of such analysis helps to strategize and acclimatize to the current business environment. Change is inevitable so the factors are key to thrust and succeed. Having enforceable and sustainable contracts is vital to govern the way the business operates and to understand obligations and liabilities. This will help to plan, strategize, and execute business in an informed way during the time of change in the business environment, and to stay out of troubled waters. These measures may mitigate the disaster and help to survive and succeed in the long run.

 

Authored by: RAMYA KUNAPAREDDY

Corporate and Litigation Lawyer, Hyderabad

 

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is solely the author’s personal analysis and interpretation. In case you wish to act upon on the basis of the content of this article, please seek legal advice. The author shall not be responsible for any loss you may incur as a result of your actions relying upon this content. The content herein is the copyrighted material of the author and is informational and shall not be used for commercial purposes other than for personal reading.