Odd Molly International AB, Complaint 298

Payment of a living wage Reasonable hours of work Safe and healthy working conditions Legally binding employment relationship

The complainant worked in the company for one month (1-30 November 2017) as security guard, engaged through a contracted security agency. His salary was INR 10100 per month. He worked 12 hours per day, as the standard shifts for security guards are 8:00 to 20:00 and 20:00 to 8:00. According to the complainant, he was facing harassment from his supervisor, in the form of verbal abuse, shouting and frequent changes in duty place to different parts of the factory in the same day. Due to this he felt compelled to submit his resignation on 25 November 2017.

The complainant fears that he may not be paid full wages for the remaining days worked as he had a similar experience earlier (March to May 2017) with the same security company. He was asked to work two continuous shift (24 hours) and when he resigned for health reasons, he was not paid wages for five days.
Now, the complainant learned informally that the security agency might again cut five days of wages. This as well as past experience is why he decided to file a complaint with FWF.

The complainant informed that wages are paid on 20th of every month and he wants to ensure that he gets his due on the payment date of 20 December).

He also requested that the company/security agency kindly help him in filing and processing an application for withdrawal of PF (social security) and asked FWF to support him in this matter.

Findings and conclusions

On 6 December 2017, FWF's complaint handler in India received a call from a worker who claimed that he resigned after verbal harassment from his supervisor. The complainant was afraid that he would not receive wages for the last five days of the month. He also stated that he had to work for 12 hour shifts, but was not being paid premium overtime wages. FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Odd Molly, the FWF member sourcing at the factory. Odd Molly reached out to factory management who claimed that the worker had received full payment for the month worked. Verbal harassment was denied. FWF conducted several calls with the complainant and assessed documents sent by management. Based on this, it was concluded that the worker initially did not receive his full payment, but was later paid the pending five days of salary. Legally required bonus as well as overtime hours were not paid to the complainant. The complainant thanked FWF for processing the complaint. He was content that he received the pending payment of five work days. He did not want to pursue the pending overtime and bonus payments or the harassment claim further. A FWF audit was planned for this factory for February 2018 to check on structural issues beyond the individual complaint such as legally binding employment relationships including proper termination and dismissal procedures, overtime hours and payment, and verbal abuse.
The verification audit which took place in first week of February 2018 reflected that the factory has not acted on most of the structural problems raised in last few complaints; most of the workers still do not receive an appointment letter, overtime is not paid at the legal rate, workers are terminated without following procedures and there has been no training on harassment at workplace. FWF urges Odd Molly to ensure remediation based on the corrective action plan of the audit and this complaint report.
On 30 October 2018, the brand visited the factory along with the FWF country representative and saw that the factory considerably improved on the CAP. A verification audit next year is suggested for a thorough check of the management systems in this factory.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2018-01-02 Investigation

Three follow up calls were made to the complainant (27 Dec, 29 Dec 2017 and 2 Jan 2018) to check for the amount he received as salary. Following which, there was communication between the security agency office and the complainant about which the FWF team was updated by the complainant.
Factory management sent explanations and a number of documents to the brand via email, which were further looked into.

2018-01-05 Conclusion of the investigation

Based on the information gathered from both sides, FWF concluded that the complainant indeed received five days' less payment for the work done from 1-30 November 2017. There was also no bonus or overtime payment included in his salary, which was disbursed on 20 December.

The complainant's claim that he was being harassed while at work (frequent changes in his place of duty, shouting and abusing him at work) was denied by the factory. Further investigation is needed to clarify this point.

According to the Factories Act, 1948, normal working hour in a day should not exceed more than eight hours. An overtime of maximum two hours per day is allowed but these hours must be paid at double the hourly rate. In the case of the complainant, he had signed a work contract which mentioned his work timing as 8 am to 8 pm and 8 pm to 8 am. For this he received a fixed salary without overtime.
This is not in line with Indian legislation.

According to the Bonus Act any employee who has worked for 30 days is eligible for bonus. This applies to the complainant.

The investigation was not sufficient to clarify all points. FWF is not investigating the unclear points further at this point since the complainant does not want to pursue the complaint. However, an audit is planned for this factory for February 2018 to check on structural issues beyond individual complaints. FWF has received several complaints from the unit in the past year.

2018-01-05 Remediation

Based on the investigation FWF concludes the following remediation steps:

- The complainant must receive his remaining payment for the five days for which he had raised a complaint, bonus payment and overtime payment.
- The factory, and any other agency that the factory is engaged with, should follow a proper procedure before dismissing any worker. All the dues of a worker should be paid to him/her within an agreed time frame.
- A bonus of at least 8,33 % must be paid to all eligible workers according to legal requirements.
- Working hours must not exceed legal limits. Overtime hours must be paid at double rate. No work contract should have more than eight hours of work per day.
- At a general level, the brand and factory management should ensure a violence free work place for all.

2018-01-05 Evaluation of the complaint

The complainant thanked FWF for processing the complaint. He was content that he received the pending payment of five work days. He did not want to pursue the pending overtime and bonus payments or the harassment claim further.

2018-01-05 Resolved

As the complainant considers his individual complaint sufficiently addressed, the complaint is resolved. The points outlined under remediation that concern structural issues beyond this complaint should nevertheless be followed up by Odd Molly and the factory.

2018-01-08 Verification

The complainant called the FWF complaint number on 5 January to inform that he received his wages for five days that were previously deducted.

The complainant added that the managing director of the security agency office assured him that his PF withdrawal form will be processed later. It was not possible during his visit because the consultant handling the PF work was not available.

The worker added that he had to sign three documents and give thumb impressions both at security agency office as well as in the factory. One of it was a declaration that he had no more complaints with factory and security agency; the other he could not understand. The receipt of payment was back-dated to 20 December 2017.

2018-04-03 Verification

A verification audit was conducted in this factory on 7 and 8 February 2018. The audit findings that pertain to the structural aspects of the complaint are:
- Workers are unaware of management policies. No induction training is provided, so new workers had no awareness about probation period, termination policy or employment terms and conditions.
- No training on workplace harassment was conducted.
- During the offsite and on site interviews, workers stated that the management periodically dismiss some workers every 6-7 months. These workers are given their due wages but no benefits like notice pay or retrenchment payment are made to them.
- Records of full and final payment to workers were shown, but they did not contain the date of the resignation letter or date of payment. It was thus not possible to verify the time the factory took to make final settlements.
- Factory still does not pay overtime premium at legal rate. Currently, workers receive a little more than single hourly rate for overtime hours (wages for 2.5 hours for 2 hours work)
- Actual time attendance and wages could not be verified because of inconsistencies observed in the broken needle register and the official time record.
- Security guards were not given weekly off days after 6 days of work, but only after 8 days.
- Appointment letters were not given to all workers. Of the six workers randomly selected during the audit only two could show their appointment letter.

2018-04-03 Remediation

FWF recommends Odd Molly to ensure remediation steps outlined in the corrective action plan of the audit and this complaint report are implemented.

2018-10-30 Resolved

The brand along with the country representative of Fair Wear made a visit to the factory to check on the progress of CAP. The Director, HR manager and compliance manager were present in this meeting and they responded that all workers are now being given an appointment letter. The overtime hours are within the limits and are paid at double the rate. Turnover of workers still remains an issue but all workers are now granted leave with their entitlements. A thorough check on the remediation will be done in verification audit at the end of 2019.