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Techies in a voting fix as IT companies dither on leaves

April 16, 2019 06:48 AM

COURTESY MIRROR APRIL 16

Techies in a voting fix as IT companies dither on leaves
FITE takes up cause, moves labour commissioner; district collector says such employers face criminal action; 50% companies either giving no holiday to vote or no leave on days relevant to many employees
| Prachee.Kulkarni@timesgroup.com TWEET @prachee_mirror

As mere days remain for the citizens of Pune to participate in a vital democratic process, those working in the city’s famous IT corridor are facing an unexpected obstacle. A huge number of employees from across tech companies have emerged to complain that their employers are refusing to give proper holidays on whichever voting day is relevant to the techies.

Claiming that this goes against the mandate, the Forum for IT Employees (FITE) Maharashtra chapter has approached the government agencies concerned, demanding action. In response, representatives from the labour commissioner’s office have been conducting meetings with all Pune-based company representatives to ensure that a holiday is declared for voting, even as the district collector has stated that an FIR will be filed against any private establishment not complying.


Take for instance the situation faced by Deepak Pawar (name changed), who has worked at an IT company in Viman Nagar for the last five years. His name is still enrolled as a voter in Sangli constituency, and with just eight days left to cast his ballot on April 23, he wishes to get his travelling arrangements done. But with no official communication from his company about a holiday on that date, he is sceptical about his bookings.

Pawar told Mirror, “Since I have to go to Sangli, I can’t really take a half day. But despite repeatedly asking my seniors, they are giving no clarity. Some fellow employees speculated that we may get a short break, but not a full day’s leave. How can I travel to my hometown, vote, return and resume work? So, I approached FITE and asked them to take up the issue.”

Similarly, Priya Sonsale (name changed), an employee of Probity Soft Private Limited in Bavdhan, is facing issues, but within Pune city. She has been clearly told that there will be no holiday — she will have to cast her vote and report to work. Priya shared, “Considering the inter-city distances to be travelled, even if I vote and go to work, they will mark a half-day for me. Despite raising this, human resources (HR) personnel are mum on the issue. Now, how will I exercise my universal adult franchise?”

For Infosys employee Chaitanya Kale (name changed), the holiday he is likely to get will be of no use. As his company falls under Baramati constituency, which goes to polls on April 23, employees may get leave on that day — but Kale is a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad, under Maval constituency, where voting is on April 29. He said, “Till date, the company has not communicated to us about leave. HR is asking us to wait whenever we ask. They should give leave to employees based on when they will be voting.”

FITE says it has been flooded with such complaints, prompting the body to prod the labour commissioner for redressal. Claiming that companies cannot deny basic voting rights to citizens, FITE demands that IT employees be granted a holiday on the day they have to vote, as per area. Further, they want this to be a paid holiday that doesn’t include a half-day option, which could force employees to report to work and compromise on their voting time.

Asserting that companies need to take a reasonable call on the closure of operations on election days, FITE state president Pavanjeet Mane shared, “According to the plaints received, almost 50 per cent of IT companies have not declared holidays on voting days, and are asking employees to report to work after voting. As per section 135B of the Representation of the People Act, all employees must be given a paid holiday to vote. Companies are ignoring the rules despite a recent government resolution (GR) in this regard. So, we formally complained to the labour commissioner and are writing to the district collector.”

On the other hand, companies are insisting that they are doing everything possible to ease voting for staff. While Probity Soft did not respond to Mirror’s questions, Infosys officials said in a statement, “Infosys Pune has declared a holiday on April 23 as the campus falls under Baramati constituency. However, we encourage employees who live in other constituencies in Pune to also exercise their franchise on the polling day applicable to them, and will provide them with the necessary time off.”

Several techie associations have also become involved, taking up initiatives to get such holidays sanctioned. Vidyadhar Purandare, secretary of the Software Exporters Association of Pune, said, “We have written to our member companies asking them to declare leaves on voting day, encouraging them to do so by circulating the recent GR. Wherever there is a conflict of polling dates, we have asked companies to consider giving a paid holiday on the day that the constituency where the company is located goes to vote — if some employees cast their ballot in other constituencies, they could be given time or an optional holiday. Companies should get permission from government authorities when it comes to mission critical (overseas clients) or 24x7 support. In these cases, too, we are suggesting ways like work from home to facilitate voting.”

Faced with this uproar, the labour commissioner has taken note, and started meeting company heads to ensure holidays are declared. Government labour officer Shrikant Chaubey told Mirror, “We are distributing a copy of the GR and government notification asking companies to declare the said holidays. We have also appointed a vigilance team to verify the status of this issue. If a company doesn’t abide by the rules, legal action will be taken.”

District collector Naval Kishore Ram contended, “Not letting people exercise their right to vote is a grave offence. If companies cannot close office for whole day, they have to seek special permission. Failing this, we will be filing an FIR against any offending company

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