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Old 31st October 2009, 10:28   #1
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Default Friend in Career Crisis: Advise Required.

Hi TBHPians.

One of my friend who is a BE in Electronics joined a small software company one year back. This company specializes in mobile software and employs around 10 people (as I said it is a small company). This company has two founders. Lets call them Boss 1 and Boss 2. Boss 1 is in very good terms with my friend. Boss 2 not so much. Boss 1 is always traveling abroad and Boss 2 is incharge of the office.

From the last few months, Boss 2 and my friend had arguments over many things. Boss 2 would say he does not like the attitude of my friend and my friend is lethargic. If my friend asks what exactly does he need to correct in his behaviour, his boss would not answer.

My friend is in direct contact with clients and they like him to handle their projects. Boss 2 always wants to give the project to interns who work for free.

Yesterday, Boss 2 and my friend had some argument. Here is a re-enactment:

Boss 2: The door is open and you can always leave
Friend: Give me documents as per formalities and I will leave immediately.
Boss 2: Oh so you are eager to leave
Friend: I never said that. You said I can leave so I replied.
Boss 2: Ok then leave.
Friend: Give me relieving letter and I will leave.
Boss 2: I wont give you any letter. Get out
Friend: That is not possible
Boss 2: This is my company I can do whatever I want. When you join other company and if they come here to verify your experience, I will tell you never worked here.
Friend: My dad was a senior Government official for 40 years and even I know the law.
Boss 2: You do whatever you want.
Friend: Fine. I will send a court notice
Boss 2: Ok I will give you a chance. You sign an agreement and we will let you continue.
Friend: What agreement.
Boss 2: We cannot disclose that. You should just sign.
Friend: Not possible. Bye.

And my friend came back home in the afternoon.

Now, the problem is, my friend has signed a contract which says if he leaves before he completes one and a half years in the company, then my friend has to pay Rs.1.5 lacs to the company. Right now, my friend has done one year over there. Arent these kind of contracts illegal? My friends dad says lets file a case in court.

So please advise what are the options.

And sorry for the long mail but I hope you guys understand the situation my friend is in.
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Old 31st October 2009, 10:38   #2
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Has he been given an appointment letter?
Is there mention of any probationary period?
Does your friend get regular monthly payslips for his salary?
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:03   #3
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Your friend is pretty much scammed IF he's signed a watertight agreement.

a. he should've not signed such a useless clause
b. he should've swallowed his ego
c. he needs to post the blanked out agreement here and then only can we respond sensibly
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:33   #4
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I cant see much an issue here; IF your friend wants to leave but prevented by the said clause all he has to do is just ask a couple of questions to the man-in-the-mirror:

- should I stay and fight with B2 for another 6 months or so, after that I am free?
- if I pay and get out, will I get a better position where I can redeem the damage within six months?

Note that if he refuses to sign the new contract, the company will have to ask him to leave thus setting him free.
Also please do keep in mind that every coin has 2 sides and you might hear an entirely different story if you ask B2. Just my 2c.

Last edited by sandeepmdas : 31st October 2009 at 11:36.
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:38   #5
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Thanks for the quick replies guys.

@MuraliR, They have given an appointment letter. It says "Trainee" for one and a half years. He has received regular monthly salary with payslip. On the payslip it is mentioned Trainee.

@phamilyman, he had never told us that he had signed the contract. My other friends were also advising him to be calm. Not that he was angry or anything. His boss would taunt him and occasionally, my friend would try to justify himself. I have asked him to mail me his contract. Will post here when I get that.

Just spoke to him over phone and he says he will just pay the amount and get the relieving letter. Paying 1.5 lacs is not too difficult or too easy for his family. But We (bunch of his friends) are telling him not to pay as we feel such contracts will not hold good as per laws (as per our knowledge). Which is why I require your suggestions.
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Old 31st October 2009, 11:47   #6
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Ask your friend to cool off, let down his ego for the next 6 months. In the mean time, within 6 months, ask your friend to search and get a job, once got, ask him to leave.

Current situation in india, you get lots of recruitment calls and offers when you are in a job, the moment you leave a organization and start searching, you will never get even a single call.

This is my experience.
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Old 31st October 2009, 12:22   #7
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arre yaar.

hold on. Your friend is too hot headed. He has not signed any letter resigning. He needs to pay if he resigns. If the company dismisses him - it cannot charge him 1.5L.

Unless he has signed a resignation letter (in which case he's plain stupid and you better leave him alone to his self-destructive career path) - its just an argument. Nothing is on paper. Tell him to chill.

EDIT: He can always send a medical certificate from a doctor for the past couple of days he has not been in office. But if I were him - i'd get to office asap. and NOT sign any piece of paper
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Old 31st October 2009, 12:35   #8
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Guys, attached word document is the content of the agreement. It is on a 100 Rs. stamp paper. First page is details of the parties involved, my friend, a guarantor. Rest is the agreement detail as below

(Note: I have copied the contents from the scanned copy. removed any and all references of the company, my friend, dates etc. The document is not formatted properly. Sorry for the inconvenience )
Attached Files
File Type: doc 1.doc (30.5 KB, 1283 views)
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Old 31st October 2009, 12:38   #9
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My view based on the limited info available on this thread

1. Trainee is not a full time Employee, so employement laws does not fully apply to trainees unless the appintment letter clearly states that he is on employment in the company

2. Appointment letter mentions the terms of Training. in case the candidate has accepted appointment letter which means he is in agreement with the terms, it is better that your friend studies these terms in full and understnad the implications.

3. Holding the others personal (origanial) records illegally is a crime. a police complaint can ensure that the records would be returned to the owner.

Best approach is to approach the Boss no 1 and have a joint dialogue with boss no 2 to settle the matter co-ordially.
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Old 31st October 2009, 12:52   #10
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@StarVegabond, they do not have any of his original documents. Only problem is the company is refusing to issue a relieving letter, the boss threatens that if my friend gets a job at another company, this boss will not vouch for him during any verification.
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Old 31st October 2009, 13:08   #11
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The agreement to my limited knowledge is watertight enough!

Your friend is stupid to have signed an agreement with a clause like:
Quote:
If the Trainee leaves the Company's employment, either voluntarily or
at the Company's behest on account of misconduct by the Trainee,
either during the training period or within 18 (Eighteen) months
Tell him to find some good lawyer friends or keep 1.5L ready.

Or to completely bend over backwards to keep boss 1 in good humor.

The agreement somehow fixates on 1.5L as the training cost that he will pay back, without the company having any liability in proving that actually such amount was spent!

The guarantor further has complete and full liability!

The arbitrator if at all, will be decided solely by the company!

The only way out is if he hasnt signed anything and if he demonstrably sticks to the good behavior covenants at the end (which the boss on his own would be hard pressed to prove). Speak with a lawyer about this issue.
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Old 31st October 2009, 13:09   #12
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Sorry - the courts are out.

Quote:
whatsoever arising out of or in relation to this Agreement, including the construction, validity,
performance or breach thereof, the same shall be referred to arbitration under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The arbitration tribunal shall comprise of a sole arbitrator chosen by the Director of the Company. The venue of arbitration shall be at Bangalore, India and the arbitration proceedings shall be in the English language.
Here is how you get fired (rather than resign)

1. Stick to the time schedule fixed by the company. No company can compell you to get trained for a period beyond 8 hours a day, spread out over maximum 10 hours. (that start to end 10 hours, maximum 8 hours in between, 2 hours maximum break).
2. write efficient code (that is one courts are yet competent to judge - whether code is efficient or not).
3. be polite to your clients.
4. be polite to your bosses.
5. be polite to your colleagues.
6. Above all, remember, you are trainee; not an employee. Trainees are not required to work. They will be given training.

Quote:
d. Not take part in any dispute of disagreements between the Company and its workmen; and to refrain from participation in any strike or other agitations of such workmen.
Edit:- BTW, find out the address of the labour department in your area.
Edit 2:- When I read documentation, I always read the beginning and end; and skip everything else in between. ;-P

Last edited by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR : 31st October 2009 at 13:13.
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Old 31st October 2009, 13:27   #13
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@phamilyman, I agree with you. We read this agreement only today and we told him how could he sign this? Further he said he spoke to his boss yesterday. He said he will not accept any other option now and he is ready to fight whatever it takes as thinks if he compromises with my friend this time,others in his office could take advantage of him in the future citing this example. My friend has spoken to some contacts in other companies and they discussed with HR and they have advised to just collect the relieving letter by paying him as the agreement gives him no chance of discussion. (He realized it was a three year contract only after I mentioned the part that says either during the training period or within 18 (Eighteen) months)

My friend says he cannot work there as he his sure his boss is going to further try to mentally torture him. I said Ok, at least for the sake of it, read the replies TBHpians have given and think over it. He said Ok. But I am sure he will just pay the amount to forget this once for all.

@BaCkSeAtDrIVeR, He will check with the labour department with a lawyer. But as per his phone call with a lawyer, he is advised a court case will be futile.

Anyway, Thank you so much guys. I can always depend on TBHPians for any, I repeat ANY advise. Fantastic fabulous community. And sorry if my friends behaviour has caused some irritation to you. Definitely I was angry and irritated that he signed all those things.

Will update if anything "radical" happens.
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Old 31st October 2009, 14:03   #14
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I faced a similar situation before and offered to pay the full amount. In my case it was 2 months salary. My boss was the jerk (an extra-ordinary one at that - I think about 5 people quit in 3-4 months) but the co. is the one of the Best in the world - Infy :-). The decision to leave was difficult because I really liked Infy and shamelessly idolised the top management but my boss was not even letting me change projects/departments. This was in 1999 and even then Infy was exceptionally good in dealing with employees.
The co. did not take my money but gave me the relieving letter late - my boss ensured this.

I would very strongly recommend that you talk to a lawyer. There should be grounds for mental torture and harassment. I am an employer now and employers cannot enslave people.
If it gets legal, then the boss cannot say that your friend was not employed by them - that would be fraud. Warn him of that too.

Your downside is pretty limited as 1 yr experience is not too much of a problem even if you can't substantiate it. Your experience will come through in the interview and most employers will not be too picky for a 1 yr experienced person even if the verification does not come through. Your friend can be up front about this too.

The legal part is more to discipline the Boss2 and help your friend's colleagues. In my case, I fought all the way up tp the BU head and senior people in HR before I quit. I wanted people to know that there is a problem. I felt that I owed it to Infy. Luckily, a few of my colleagues backed me up when the top mgmt asked them - and added to that 3-5 people also unofficially blamed the boss when they quit.

Make sure you get legal advice and not just from this forum.
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Old 31st October 2009, 14:57   #15
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@kcnetid, Yes. I have strongly advised my friend to take the documents to a lawyer. Even if he does not want to file a case, at least he will learn the nuances and he wont repeat the same mistake of signing something without reading properly.

And just for info, this boss used to call a meeting of employees from Karnataka and used to tell them to "not act culturally backward". Guess why? These people used to converse in Kannada. Many such instances. But this cant be proved as there is no hard evidence (highly doubtful if other employees will risk agreeing to vouch for it).
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