Maintaining that a person working in an Information Technology company can be termed as a "workman", a court in Chennai Tuesday set aside the dismissal of an employee stating that it was unlawful.
Additional Labour Court Presiding Officer S Nambirajan also directed the firm to reinstate the petitioner with continuity of service and to pay full back wages and all other benefits from the date of dismissal to the date of reinstatement.
The order was given on an industrial dispute plea filed by K Ramesha, who was dismissed as Senior Service Programmer while working in HCL Technologies Limited, seeking to set aside his dismissal.
"It cannot be denied that the job of an engineer in a software company involves skills and technical knowledge. Therefore it can be concluded that the job of a software engineer can be termed as the skilled or technical one", the court said.
The management contented that Ramesha was a supervisor and therefore he has been exempted from the definition of the term "workman".
"Any person doing a skilled job is a workman under the definition of that term. So I conclude that the petitioner is a workman", the judge said.
His service was confirmed by the company on February 26, 2010 with effect from August 20, 2009.
On September 20, 2010 the company, in appreciation of his contributions. Revised the salary.
But on January 22, 2013 his services were terminated stating that his performance was not satisfactory and he had not shown any improvement despite counselling. No explanation was called by the company and no charge memo was given and no inquiry was conducted before the termination order was passed, following which Ramesha moved the Labour Court seeking to set-aside the dismissal order.
On the question of whether service of Ramesha was terminated unlawfully, the court said, "The firm has not produced any evidence to show that failure to improve performance or failure to measure up to the expectations or standing orders of the company would amount to an act of misconduct."
In Clause 6 of the appointment order, it is stated that the service of an employee can be terminated by giving 30 days notice or by payment of one month's salary in lieu of notice without assigning any reasons.
But the appointment order does not contain any provision to show that failure to improve performance would result in dismissal of an employee, the court said.