Employee: Know your rights!

Understand your rights as an employee
Often people are not happy with their jobs because they feel exploited; most of the employees and even employers are often not aware of the basic rights of an employee. And that leads to dissatisfaction. With employment sector growing it is important to be aware of these basic rights.

advisory

The law in India gives provisions to protect employee interest. Though there are no particular laws pertaining to the private employment but certain rights apply to all employment in India and should be adhered to by the employers. Some of them include the following:

Written Agreement
You have the right to get a written Employment Agreement before you start work. The agreement should clearly list the rights and obligations of both the employer and the employee and clearly state the ‘terms and conditions’ of your employment. The written agreement is beneficial for both the employer and the employee; it clearly states what was agreed. It is useful for employer as it controls the behavior of the employee in the workplace and in the case of any dispute it helps resolve the case. It gives a sense of security and protection to both the parties. It is advisable to read the agreement carefully before you sign the dotted line. You may also seek professional help so that you understand the agreement.

Leave
Every employee has the right to leaves such as casual leave, sick leave, privilege leave and other leaves as per the policy of the organization. Casual leaves are given to all employees for any emergency or unavoidable reason. Sick leave is obvious for when an employee falls sick and paid leaves are those which one plans in advance.

Other leaves like paid leave, unpaid leave, study leave etc. are given by the employers based on their company policy. For one day sick leave the employee need not provide any medical certificate however, for sick leave exceeding more than 2 days a medical proof needs to be provided. An employee can take encashment leave while quitting service, discharge, dismissal or death. Leave during notice period can be taken as per the terms of agreement or in case of emergency.

Maternity Benefit
The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 was enacted to regulate maternity benefits to women working in establishments. The Act provides for prenatal and postnatal benefits for a female employee in an establishment. Earlier the female employees were entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave. With new amendments made to the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, the paid maternity leave has been extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for women working at companies with at least 10 employees. Employees cannot be discharged or dismissed while on maternity leave. If dismissed, they can still claim maternity benefits.

Protection from Sexual Harassment
Every employer has the responsibility to ensure that his/her employees, especially female employees, are protected while at work. All incidents of sexual harassment need to be intervened and responded by the employers. The company’s policy should clearly formulate rules which prohibit sexual harassment. There should be clear guidelines on how to handle such cases. The policy should also ensure impartiality in investigation. Any woman who has been sexually harassed at the workplace can seek remedy under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Sexual harassment is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.

Gratuity
Gratuity is a statutory benefit paid to the employees who have rendered continuous service for at least five years. The amount is payable to an employee on end of employment either by resignation, death, retirement or termination, by taking the last drawn salary as the basis for the calculation; payment liability of the employer increases with increase in salary and tenure of employment. A lump-sum amount is paid to the employee based on the duration of his total service. Even if the employee is entitled to Provident Fund or Pension, he is still entitled to Gratuity. It is a gesture of gratitude by the employer paid in the form of money.

Provident Fund
Managed by the Employee Provident Fund Organization of India, Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) is a retirement benefit scheme that’s available to all salaried employees. Any company with over 20 employees is required by law to register with the EPFO. The employer and the employee both have to contribute to this fund; 12 per cent of the basic salary of the employee is deducted every month for this fund. It is mandatory for the employer to contribute to this fund and he cannot deduct the whole PF contribution from the employee’s salary. Any employee can opt out of the scheme provided they do it at the beginning of their career. There are withdrawal rules and the amount cannot be withdrawn at will.

Illegal Job Interview Questions
Job interviews are done to learn about the candidate. Questions can be asked but not the ones that cross the line of your privacy. Questions related to candidate’s personal life like age, race, religion, pregnancy, marital status etc. should not be asked. Job discrimination based on the following factors is not right.

• Age – Asking age should just be a check whether the candidate is above 18. Beyond this it calls for age-based discrimination.
• Nationality – If the candidate is authorized to assume employment where the job is located, one’s nationality has nothing to do with professional ability.
• Race, ethnicity, or color
• Gender or sex
• Religion – Religion is a personal choice and has nothing to do with professional ability. Discussion on religion is not correct.
• Disability – If the job is physically demanding it can be conveyed to the candidate but beyond this context any health related questions are inappropriate.
• Marital Status – Digging into such details is considered unethical and it is no indicator of one’s professional ability.
• Pregnancy – The candidate’s plan to have children can affect their personal lives but if it does not reflect on their performance it is irrelevant.
• Family Status – Questions about work-home balance is a question mostly asked to woman. Questioning one’s professional ability just because she is a woman is unethical.
• Political affiliation.
• Criminal Record – A candidate is not obligated to discuss arrest history with a recruiter. The recruiter can do his/her own research or the candidate can be upfront about any past and clarify.