DW-Shop GmbH, Complaint 173

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Employment is freely chosen Payment of a living wage Reasonable hours of work Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Closed
DATE
2016-07-10

The complainant stated that he took leave for one month on 11 February 2016, but did not return to the factory until 9 June 2016. The management had replaced him due to his long unreported absence. The worker accepted his dismissal and asked management for his full and final payment and the form necessary to collect social security (PF). The HR manager told him to come back in two days as they needed time to prepare the files. The worker returned several times to the factory, but was repeatedly told that it was not yet ready

Findings and conclusions

On 10 July 2016, Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) received a complaint from a worker formerly employed at the factory. The complainant stated that he took leave for one month on 11 February 2016, but did not return to the factory until 9 June 2016. The management had replaced him due to his long unreported absence. The worker accepted his dismissal and asked management for his full and final payment and the form necessary to collect social security (PF). The HR manager told him to come back in two days as they needed time to prepare the files. The worker returned several times to the factory, but was repeatedly told that it was not yet ready.

On 11 July, FWF decided that the complaint was admissible on the grounds of the following labour code standards: employment is freely chosen, no excessive working hours, and legally binding employment relationship. The worker then called the FWF complaint handler again with a different story, but the complaint handler had a feeling that the worker was being pressured to say this in the presence of factory management. In a subsequent call, the worker said he received payment and all he still wanted was the signed form from management needed to collect social security payments (PF). The complaints handler tried to call him several times without success.

FWF is unable to draw a final conclusion, whether the worker received the full payment and relevant forms to claim social security or not, and has decided to close the case since the worker is not available for follow-up. FWF’s impression is that it is likely that the worker was asked to sign a blank paper in exchange for a lesser amount.

In terms of remediation, DW Shop must explain to the supplier that transparency and the willingness to improve are crucial parts of their business relationship and clarify regulations surrounding dismissal and wage slips.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2016-08-16 Investigation

FWF informed DW-Shop about the case on 11th July 2016.
The worker called the FWF complaint handler again on 12th July and informed that he went to the factory and met the management. Then he emphasized that the management had already paid all dues in the past and that he filed the complaint to
FWF only to get his job back. The complaint handler had the feeling that the worker was calling from the factory and was talking in presence of management.
On 13th July, DW Shop received an email from the factory where management claims that they had paid 11 260 INR to the worker already on 8th June. This would match legal requirements (except for overtime payments). They were however unable to re-hire him.
On 15th July, FWF called the worker again to confirm whether he received the stated amount and whether he would like to withdraw the complaint. The worker stated that he was called by management on 12th July and offered 7 017 INR in exchange for signing a blank paper (where the amount of 11 260 INR and the date of 8th June was later filled in) and calling FWF again to say that he withdraws the complaint and that he received the full payment on 8th June. The worker accepted this as he was in need of the
payment. Contrary to what the factory says, the worker accepts his dismissal. The only thing he still wants is the signed form from management needed to collect social security payments (PF). He did not ask for additional money.
FWF asked DW Shop to discuss the situation again with the supplier. The supplier insisted that they had paid the full amount of 11 260 INR on 8th June.
FWF called the worker several times, but was unable to reach him.
During a FWF audit at the supplier in April 2015 several non-compliances among others related to legally binding employment relationships and excessive working hours were observed.

2016-08-16 Conclusion of the investigation

FWF is unable to draw a final conclusion, whether the worker received the full payment and relevant forms to claim social security or not.
Legally, he is at least entitled to the amount of 11 260 INR (not counting overtime payments). He claims he only received 7 017 INR, so a difference of 4 243 INR remains.
Taken into account that the worker communicated to FWF that he accepted is dismissal and the audit findings from the previous year, FWF’s impression is that it is likely that the worker was asked to sign a blank paper in exchange for a lesser amount.
As the worker was not available for further follow-up, FWF has closed the complaint.
The claims regarding excessive overtime and lack of formal contracts/regular wage slips are difficult to verify without further investigation. They are however consistent with previous audit findings.

2016-08-16 Remediation

The following remediation steps should be implemented:
- DW Shop must explain to the supplier that transparency and the willingness to improve are crucial parts of their business relationship. Complaints received through the FWF hotline should be resolved through the complaints procedure. Complaints are considered as positive as long as the supplier is willing to work on remediation.
- All workers that resigned or were dismissed should receive their full and final payments as well as all necessary forms in a timely manner.
- Working hours should always be non-excessive and paid at a double rate according to Indian legislation.
- All workers must receive appointment letters and contracts as well as regular wage slips.

2016-08-16 Verification

FWF will verify the current status during an already planned verification audit in October 2016 as well as at the next Brand Performance Check at DW Shop.

2016-08-16 Closed

This complaint is closed.