In a clear violation of the government notification dated March 31, which states that employers cannot reduce salaries or terminate employees during lockdown, the Wipro BPO in Pune has benched 300 employees. After the issue was brought to the notice of the Labour Commission by the National Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), a notice has been sent to Wipro to make necessary amends or face legal action.
Wipro, meanwhile, has denied the allegations by NITES, calling them baseless rumours, and has stated that the Company has no plans to downsize and that it follows appropriate policies for the welfare of its staff.
Apparently, Wipro had started benching employees last month, and almost 300 — including those in the hospitality and travel divisions — are at risk of being rendered jobless.
Naturally, NITES maintains that Wipro’s move to bench these employees was made simply to maintain profitability, given the pandemic situation. In doing so, NITES alleges that Wipro BPO has violated not just human rights, but also gone against the Centre’s as well as Maharashtra government’s rules and regulations.
If Wipro fails to act, it may have to face the consequences of non-compliance under IPC Section 188, 269, 270, 271 Disaster Management Act 51 (b) & epidemic disease Act 3.
Benching is a practice wherein the employees are allowed a certain time period within which they have to find projects to work on. Employees fear that if they are unable to do so, they may even be laid off.
Most IT/ITeS firms are facing slow growth, and the June quarter for most is expected to take the maximum brunt due to deferred projects, fall in demand and pricing-related pressures. As part of cost-cutting measures, many have not only stopped hiring but also cancelled increments and promotions.
While Wipro is said to be undergoing a financial crisis, the CHRO had stated that the Company will be exploring cost-cutting options including reducing sub-contractor costs, sending people on furloughs or leaves, and so on.