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Understanding personnel laws

Akshey Kumar

MAN-MANAGEMENT is an important and challenging job; because it is a job, not of managing `men' but of administering a social system.

In the current societal setting, characterised by rapid economic, political and social changes as also changes in ideas, attitudes and values, man-management has definitely become an important and challenging job. Changes may create problems necessitati ng their understanding, anticipation and solutions. Man-management, in essence, is being a manager who has to get thing done through the willing cooperation of others. In the organisational context, every manager has to develop and maintain his competence in leading, mobilising and directing the efforts of people without which he cannot be a manager.

A human being, as a social being, tends to satisfy his need for affiliation, status, approval, prestige, and so on, through interaction with others. Social systems immensely influence human behaviour in work settings. Individuals may derive motivation fr om the job itself through a sense of achievement and allied measures. They can also be motivated through external incentive schemes. Man-management would require building a societal setting where men find an opportunity for fuller self-actualisation, ric her creativity and a more meaningful life.

Effective man-management is likely to serve the goals of the society. According to Yoder, it can help i) maintain an even balance of jobs and job-holders to raise living standards of individuals in society; ii) people avail themselves of the best, the mo st productive and the most gainful jobs where they can be most happy, enthusiastic and effective; iii) ensure the best protection and conservation of human resources to prevent wasteful or careless use; and iv) people make their decisions with a minimum of direction and control, serving the prominent goal in a fine society.

Workers' participation

WORKERS' participation in management (WPM) is the method through which workers are able to collectively express their views on the functioning of an enterprise. It implies practices which increase the scope for employees' share of influence in decision-m aking in different tiers of organisational hierarchy with concomitant assumption of responsibility.

The need for WPM is felt because i) workers have ideas which can be useful; ii) effective communication upwards in essential for sound decision-making at the top; iii) workers may accept decisions if they participate in them; iv) they may work more intel ligently if they are better informed about the reasons and the intention of the decision; v) they may work better/harder if they share in decisions that affect them; vi) a cooperative attitude amongst workers and management may raise efficiency and minim ise industrial disputes; vii) it may spur managerial efficiency; viii) it is a step towards establishing industrial democracy; and ix) it reduces scope for misunderstandings and promotes the mental development of workers.

Collective bargaining

AN INSTITUTIONAL process of representation, collective bargaining is a system of industrial jurisprudence between employees and employees. It is a mode of negotiation between representatives of management and labour to accomplish a written agreement. It is a form of industrial democracy involving a give-and-take process. It helps in strengthening trade unions and paves the way for solidarity among workers. The process results in improved wages, industrial peace, and better working and living conditions.

Collective bargaining can effectively mitigate the problem of industrial unrest provided the concept of common goal is clear to both management and labour and they adopt a proactive approach to ensure peace and understanding. Whereas the onus is on the m anagement to accept collective bargaining and the unions as institutions to achieve harmonious industrial relations, the unions should accept in the right perspective the right of the management to manage and operate. The management should refrain from a purely legalistic approach and must settle grievances promptly. In short, the management should give with grace and the union should accept with dignity.

Situation analysis

IN XYZ Ltd, the employer and the workmen have come to an agreement for a modification in the existing standing orders. Is the certifying officer bound to accept the modification?

In United Glass Works Ltd vs Their Workmen, it has been held that where a modification in the existing standing orders has been agreed upon between the employer and the workmen, the certifying officer is not bound to accept the changes if they are not in conformity with the prescribed model standing orders. However, the provisions regarding modifications do not bar the reference of dispute for adjudication.

b) Anbu is an apprentice in ABC company. It is suddenly decided to split the existing company into two firms, one as manufacturing and the other as repair works. Can Anbu automatically become the apprentice of the new firms?

It relates to the novation of the contract of apprenticeship under Section 5 of the Act. Anbu will not automatically become apprentice of the new firms. Section 5 requires that where the employer with whom the contract of apprenticeship has been entered is, for any reason, unable to fulfil his obligations under the contract, if agreed between the employer and the apprentice -- if a minor, his guardian and the other employer -- an apprentice shall be engaged under the other employer for the unexpired period of training. The apprenticeship advisor has to approve of the agreement and it has to be registered with him.

c) Smart, who was an employee of an engineering company, had gone on leave for 10 days on March 10. He remained absent till May 10 without obtaining any leave. On his joining, he produced a certificate issued by the civil surgeon stating that he had suff ered from chronic malaria and dysentery from March 15 to May 10. The personnel manager sent him to the authorised medical officer for medical examination.

The medical officer submitted the report stating that he was not able to confirm whether the employee had been ailing as certified. Based on this report, the company refused to take him back into service. Can it be justified under the Employees' State In surance Act, 1948?

The problem is based on the Supreme Court judgment in Buckingham and Carnatic Co Ltd vs Venkatayya where the company had refused to take back the employee into its service purporting to act under a standing order in force in the concern which dealt with the effect of absence from work without leave. The court held that Section 73 could not be invoked against the order of discharge because the termination of his service had not taken place during the period of his illness.

d) Tokyo Ltd carried on three business ventures -- manufacturing sugar, cement and heavy engineering machinery -- located in three different places in North India. They employed workmen on different terms in the different units. One of these u nits was financially faring ill. The workers of this unit demanded bonus on the basis of treating these three units as one composite establishment. Can the workmen succeed in getting bonus?

The problem is based on the Supreme Court judgment in K. C. P. Employees' Association, Madras vs Management of K. C. P. Ltd. The workmen had demanded bonus on the contention that the three different undertakings must be treated as one composite establish ment and, on the basis of the overall profits, bonus must be reckoned as provided in the Payment of Bonus Act. The court held that the workmen of the unit, which was financially faring ill, could not claim bonus on the basis of a single establishment.

(Suggested answers to the June 2000 ICSI (Intermediate) paper on personnel management and industrial laws.)

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