According to the New Democratic Labour Front (NDLF), an IT employee union, the US- based IT major, Cognizant, has begun terminating its benched employees as the business has taken a hit due to the COVID pandemic. Apparently, those employees who have been on the bench for more than 35 days and have been unable to secure any project during that time, are being asked to leave, but not before appearing for a personal hearing to explain why they were on the bench for so long without work.
Employees at the associate level and above, primarily middle-level staff, are facing the maximum impact.
According to media reports, employees are being terminated for ‘poor performance’.
The management has communicated to some employees in a mail that the terminations are being done because the Company is unable to bear the expenses and financial burden of the staff.
Meanwhile, the disgruntled employees seem to be disappointed by the severance package being offered.
To support the terminated employees, Chennai-based IT union, the All India Forum for IT/ITeS Employees, had filed a petition with the Chennai Labour Commission earlier this month and also written to the Deputy Commissioner of Labour (Central), New Delhi earlier this week highlighting the issue. The Forum has drawn attention to the fact Cognizant has been forcing employees to resign upon their inability to secure a new project during their bench time, and giving them poor performance rating for this reason; and that the Company has been using the pandemic as a ruse to terminate employees, which is illegal and unethical.
The IT union estimates that there are about 18,000 employees on the bench and over 27,000 who have received poor performance ratings.
However, Cognizant responded by calling these allegations baseless rumours, and went on to claim that it continues to hire at all levels in India and globally, and also invest in upskilling its staff.