Concerning labour standards:
The complainant worked in the factory for about four years. He/she joined the factory in October 2014. He/she was working as sampling tailor, and his/her salary was INR 11,000. On 9 May 2018, he/she went on leave for one week and the leave was duly sanctioned to visit his/her family. When he/she was returning on 16, May he/she fell down on the train platform and was seriously injured. He/she returned home and could not resume work. He/she communicated about this incident to his/her master from the sampling department and informed that as soon as he/she recovered from injuries he/she will be back to work and the master also agreed to it. It took three months for him/her to recover and when he/she returned to work in August he/she was informed that someone else had already been recruited for his/her position. Management suggested him/her to resign and take his/her full and final payment. After some fruitless calls with management, he/she signed the resignation letter on 10 January 2019 in order to receive his/her full and final payment and also to file the Provident Fund (PF) withdrawal form. The complainant mentioned that he/she had taken a loan of INR 20000 from the management and that needed to be adjusted with his/her final payment too.
On his/her resignation, the HR manager informed him/her that they would call in a few days to collect his/her dues. Since he/she did not receive a call from the factory after a week he/she decided to call the FWF's complaint number, as he/she also wanted to know about his/her eligibility for various benefits. FWF's complaint handler explained that he/she was not eligible for notice pay and gratuity as his/her service was less than five years. It was suggested that he/she may be eligible only for earned leave and bonus in his/her full and final payment. The complaint handler told the complainant to make some more calls to management to solve it amicably. On 19 January, the complainant spoke to the HR manager who informed him/her that they were still looking at his/her details and they will call him/her in a few days.
On 25 January, the worker informed FWF that he/she was still waiting for a call from HR .
Findings and conclusions
On 9 May 2019, he/she went on leave for one week and the leave was duly sanctioned. On 16 May when he/she was returning, he/she fell and was seriously injured. He/she communicated this incident to the factory and agreed to resume work once he/she had recovered. It took three months for him/her to recover and when he/she returned to work in August he/she had already been replaced. Management suggested him/her to resign and take his/her full and final payment. After some discussions with management, he/she signed the resignation letter on 10 January 2019 in order to receive his/her full and final payment and also to file the Provident Fund (PF) withdrawal form. On his/her resignation, the HR manager informed him/her that they would call in a few days to collect his/her dues. Since he/she did not receive a call from the factory after a week, he/she decided to call the FWF's complaint number. The complaint was shared with the brand and they in turn shared it with the factory. On 8 March 2019, the brand informed that the factory management had paid all the dues to the complainant and the factory's consultant contacted the complainant to check whether he/she would be willing to return to the factory for his/her old salary, but he/she declined. it was informed that during this period he/she found another employer to work for and he/she was happy to receive his/her final payments. The full and final payment along with the supporting documents were sent for verification purpose. On 23 March 2019, the complaint handler spoke to the complainant to verify if he/she had received his/her dues. He/she confirmed that two payments had been transferred to his/her account. However, He/she did not clearly understand what was included in the payment as he/she was not provided with a copy with the details. On 15 July 2019, the brand informed that the factory had sent the a copy of the full and final statement to the complainant but the address was found to be incorrect. FWF's complaint handler called the complainant and asked him/her to send the correct address. The complainant refused to send the address saying he/she would meet the management in person when upon his/her return. Also, the complainant said he/she no longer wanted to proceed with this complaint. Therefore, the case is closed.
Overview of the complaint investigation
FWF informed the brand about this complaint and sought the response of the factory management. The brand in turn asked for the details of the complainant which were shared with them.
02/25/2019 Conclusion of the investigation
Upon investigation of the complaint, it is concluded that the worker's dues have not been cleared by the factory. The factory claimed that there has been a recent change in the HR manager of the factory and the new manager was not fully aware of the complainant's case.
Factory management is obliged to make the full and final settlement of the complainant at the earliest.
The complainant was called to the factory for settlement. The factory agreed to pay the following through bank transfer the very next day:
a) Payment for earned leave
c) Notice pay
The complainant also clarified that the loan amount due with the factory is INR 3000 and not INR 20000 as stated in the first complaint report.
The brand informed that the factory management paid all the dues to the complainant and the factory's consultant contacted the complainant to check whether he/she would be willing to return to the factory for his/her old salary, but he/she declined. During this period he/she found another employer to work for. He/she added that he/she was happy to receive his/her final payments. The full and final payment along with the supporting documents were sent for verification purpose.
The complaint handler spoke to the complainant to verify if he/she had received his/her dues.
He/she confirmed that two payments were transferred to his/her account.
2. He/she does not clearly understand what is paid for what because he/she was not provided with copy of full and final receipt which mentions these details.
The amount transferred in his/her account is 18290+1950=20240. The worker does not know the details of how 20240 has arrived.
Further, complainant also wanted to know if he would be paid for the days he/she was sick.
Factory management is obliged to provide a copy of full and final settlement to the complainant with details and also explain its stand on the payment of sick leave.
The brand contacted the factory to know their policy on sick leave payment and to know if the factory had helped the complainant to understand how his/her full and final payment was made.
Factory management explained that the complainant was not eligible for any sick leave payment because his/her Employees' State Insurance (ESI) was getting deducted. To avail the medical treatment from ESI, and leave payment (period when employee is absent from work) from ESI one has to go there and get the treatment done, then they suggest the medical treatment as per the employee condition and will pay for the medical leave .
Regarding settlement copy, the factory sent the full and final settlement copy signed by him/her and assured that they have already made him/her understand his/her payment details.
The factory's consultant called the complainant and verified that he/she is happy and received the payment. Management added that they have already processed his/her records and made him/her exit from their PF Account, so that he/she can claim his/her PF.
FWF spoke with the complainant and he/she stated that he/she did not receive any call from the factory for explaining the full and final payment neither was it explained when he/she signed the document. He/she was not even given a copy of the final settlement document after he/she signed the document.
Regarding ESI, the complainant stated that upon his/her return in August he/she took treatment from ESI but the staff there told him/her that his/her card is 'put on hold' by the company since June 2018 (remember that he/she went on leave in May and came back in August as he/she faced and accident) therefore they will provide the treatment but he/she cannot claim leave benefits from ESI.
04/22/2019 Evaluation of the complaint
According to FWF, the complaint at this point is word against word and it is difficult to ascertain the truth of the statement. FWF recommends the factory management to share a copy of the final settlement with the complainant.
05/03/2019 Evaluation of the complaint
The factory sent a mail to the brand explaining that the complainant's statement seems to be not true. He/she can avail the ESI benefit during his/her sick period from May until August since his/her ESI contribution was already paid in earlier months.
The factory sent the proof for the complainant's contribution paid from April 2017 until March 2018. It was added that with this contribution paid, he/she is eligible to avail the ESI benefit for the next year.
FWF will ask for the worker's response on this and also verify if he/she has received his/her copy of the final settlement.
06/27/2019 Evaluation of the complaint
Brand received some feedback from factory about this complaint and it was forwarded to FWF on 18 June 2019.
Factory management sent a copy of the letter with the explanation of the amount paid in complainant's account and also a copy of letter with his/her (complainant's) full and final signed earlier by him/her.
Factory said workers are trained regularly about ESI and they are availing these facilities and also they are sending formal letters now to all employees who do not inform or turn up after their leaves finishes.
Factory said that they did not want the complainant to resign but he/she resigned on his/her will. Management added that they had offered him the job when he/she returned and complainant demanded more salary. Since the matter could not be sorted out, he/she resigned on his/her own.
FWF has asked the complaint handler to check with the complainant on whether he/she has received all his/her dues and also to clarify if he/she has resigned on his/her own will.
07/01/2019 Evaluation of the complaint
The complainant was called to check about the factory's reply: According to him
1. He/she has not yet received the letter and copy of full and final statement sent by PF on his/her address.
2. He/she has not yet returned and therefore not yet filed application in ESI as he/she has not come back from his/her native place.
3. On the issue of whether management offered him his/her job back: When he/she came back and was fired by Parvati Fashion, for few days he/she worked as piece rate worker (not on rolls) in the same factory (Parvati); it was during this period the factory management asked him to rejoin, i.e., join as fresh worker on same wages but the complainant wanted to join on same wages only with his/her continuity of service. He/she added that if he/she joins as a fresh worker then he/she would do it at a higher wage (losing his/her length of service and related benefits) because he/she was an experienced worker.
The management was not ready to accept either of these two options and hence dialogue failed. (These facts were not reported by the complainant to FWF and revealed only when specifically asked with reference to what management is saying). Complainant reiterated that he/she did not want to resign, but when he/she lost hope for reinstatement he/she finally resigned so that he/she can get his/her final settlement cleared.
07/18/2019 Evaluation of the complaint
Brand reverted that their supplier confirmed that the courier service had informed them that complainant could not be reached at the address in his/her personal file. Brand/supplier are keen to have the current address where complainant can be reached or where he/she will be able to receive the full and final settlement letter.
Brand added that if the complainant needs any documents or data or information from their supplier to apply for his/her Provident Fund amount, he/she is free to contact the company.
Whether a worker is paid as unskilled or experienced depends on the mutual agreement between employee and employer.
To put on record the supplier has been supported by brand and their social compliance consultant LINK to focus on awareness training of their workers, which includes education on how to deal with social and health insurance.
The facts in this case prove that the supplier should not have dismissed the complainant but they did since they had not heard from their employee for a long time and therefore assumed that the employee would not return to work. Factory learnt from this that as a company it is important to inform its employees in the event of illness to comply with a notification obligation and, if this does not happen, to proactively ask them to do so (e.g. factory sends in such cases letters by courier in which the employee is made aware of his/her behaviour and is asked to report immediately to the factory management, because otherwise it must be assumed that the employee does not return to work and therefore appropriate labour law steps must be taken), as well as to investigate the whereabouts of the employee.
In this case, the supplier offered the complainant to resume his/her job at the old conditions and has agreed to pay all outstanding compensations which was rejected by the complainant.
FWF will check with the complainant whether the address he/she has provided is incorrect and ask him to contact the factory on this.
Complaints handler spoke with the complainant on 18 July. He/she informed that he/she is still in the village and engaged in farming operations.
Complaints handler explained him that due to address problem the outstanding documents were not delivered to him, and that he/she can send his/her current address (also email id if he/she has) to the company then it may again be dispatched to his/her address. He/she replied that he/she would think and then inform FWF. He/she was informed that Buyer and company may like to know whether he/she will be sending his/her address or not.
It was suggested that he/she may even send the address to the FWF complaint number and then it can be forwarded to the buyer.
He/she said that he/she does not want to send the address. He/she added that he/she will go to company and meet the management personally when he/she returns. He/she also did not want to continue with the complaint.
The complaint is therefore considered closed.