Scorett Footwear AB, Complaint 77

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Verification
DATE
2014-05-13

The complainant claimed that after 3 days of sick leave, the factory management dismissed him/her. The complainant had worked for the factory for 5 years. The complainant had, however, not informed management about his/her absence. The complainant does not have a leave certificate from a doctor.

Factory management had asked the complainant to sign several documents which he/she was unable to read on account of being illiterate. Since the dismissal was not according to Indian law, the employment was terminated without one month's prior written notice, management is expected to immediately re-hire the complainant under the same conditions as before the dismissal. FWF expects the brand and the factory to ensure that the worker receives the full salary for the time he/she was absent due to the investigation process.

Scorett Footwear, the FWF member brand sourcing at this factory, updated FWF in March 2015, stating that the worker was not rehired but received the full and final payment according to Indian law. Furthermore, Scorett Footwear advised factory management to establish and communicate policies regarding leave procedures.

Findings and conclusions

On 13 May 2015, FWFs complaints handler in India received a complaint from a former factory worker, who claimed that he/she had been dismissed after taking sick leave and had been asked to sign several documents that he/she was unable to read due to the fact that the complainant is illiterate. FWF declared the complaint admissible and informed Scorett Footwear, the FWF member brand sourcing at the factory. Since the dismissal was not according to Indian law, the employment was terminated without one month's prior written notice, management is expected to immediately re-hire the complainant under the same conditions as before the dismissal. FWF expects the brand and the factory to ensure that the worker receives the full salary for the time he/she was absent due to the investigation process. Scorett Footwear, the FWF member brand sourcing at this factory stated that the worker was not rehired but received the full and final payment according to Indian law. Furthermore, Scorett Footwear advised factory management to establish and communicate policies regarding leave procedures.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2014-05-14 Investigation

FWF informed Scorett about the case. Scorett got immediate feedback from the factory.
Factory management claims that the plaintiff was absent since December 2013 several times with/without prior notice and that the management needed to take action as otherwise other workers could also take off more frequently.
The dates which the factory management claimed the plaintiff having been absent have been cross-checked by the complaints handler with the plaintiff. The plaintiff does not confirm having been absent on the days the factory management claimed the worker was absent. The plaintiff indicated receipt of the same salary for all months since December 2013 (which has been INR 7400) which indicates that the worker has been working. However as the salary was received cash on a monthly basis this is not evidence.
FWF conducted a verification audit at the factory on 5-7 May 2014. One of the findings was that the workers are not aware of factory policies, which includes the procedure of taking leaves. Further, the factory management did not post the legal requirements at the factory floor according to law.
According to Indian law (Industrial Employment Standing Orders Act, 1946), one can terminate someone on two issues - gross misconduct (like harassment, violence, criminal behaviour) or absence from work. In any case, to lawfully terminate the employment of permanent monthly-paid workers, employers are required to give in writing one month’s notice (and a copy must be maintained with the HR).

2014-05-14 Conclusion of the investigation

FWF does not have sufficient evidence/arguments to know when the plaintiff has been absent and whether it is the factory management or the worker stating the right situation about having been absent or at work.

However, from the FWF verification audit conducted shortly before the complaint has been received, FWF knows that workers at this factory are not aware of the procedure of taking leaves.

Since the worker has been dismissed in the morning after returning from being absent for 3 days without receipt of such a letter/mail one month prior termination of employment, termination of employment of the plaintiff is not according to Indian law.

FWF hence finds this complaint grounded.

2014-05-14 Remediation

FWF expects from Scorett and the factory the following:
• The factory management is expected to set up policies on leave procedures according to the Indian law and to follow their rules. Factory policies should be posted at the factory visible for all workers and in the applicable languages of the workers. It needs to be ensured that the workers are trained and hence aware of the procedure of taking leaves. Remediation should be within the coming three months. FWF Workplace Education Programme could be of use to ensure management and workers understand labour rights and grievance mechanisms. FWF can be of help if requested.
• Since the dismissal was not according to Indian law (termination without one month’s prior notice in written), the factory management is expected to re-hire the plaintiff under the same conditions as before termination of employment immediately. FWF expects the brand and the factory to ensure that the worker receives the full salary for the time (s)he was absent due to the investigation process.
• Scorett will draft a statement to the factory with an official summary of the case and the company’s future position with the supplier.
Scorett updated FWF in March 2015, stating that the worker was not re-hired, but received full and final payment according to Indian law. Furthermore, Scorett advised factory management to establish and communicate policies regarding leave procedures.

2015-03-02 Evaluation of the complaint

The worker has not been and also will not be re-employed by the factory. The plaintiff thanked FWF for the help in receiving the correct final payment. (S)he was unable due to lack of financial resources to involve the labour court.

2015-03-02 Resolved

This complaint has been partially resolved. The complainant received what was due to her but was not reinstated.

2015-03-03 Verification

FWF contacted the plaintiff. (S)he confirmed, that (s)he received full and final payment, but was not reinstated at the factory. According to the plaintiff, factory management did not want to employ him/her further since (s)he contacted FWF.
The plaintiff also stated that there had been a recent strike at the supplier after which many contracts were terminated.
As Scorett is no longer a member of FWF, FWF cannot verify those claims. FWF advises Scorett to follow-up on the complaint to verify, whether there has been a strike and possible illegal dismissals. Also, Scorret should verify whether the supplier has established and communicated policies for leave procedures.