In a judgement that can have significant implications for the IT sector, a Chennai court has held that a person working in an IT company is a “workman”. In an industrial dispute case, Additional Labour Court Presiding Officer S. Nambirajan has rolled back the dismissal of an IT employee and ordered his reinstatement in service with full back wages and all other benefits.
The order was given on a plea filed by K Ramesha, who was dismissed as Senior Service Programmer while working in HCL Technologies Limited, seeking to set aside his dismissal. The employee was confirmed in service in February, 2010 after a one-year probation. In January, 2013 his services were terminated due to unsatisfactory performance. Questioning his removal, his counsel argued that no explanation was called by the company, no charge memo was given and no enquiry had been conducted before the termination order was issued.
HCL, on its part, had argued that the labour court had no jurisdiction to entertain the application at all, as Ramesha was not a workman. But the judge rejected the company’s contentions
Terming the employee’s dismissal as unlawful, the court observed, “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 judge said, “Any person doing a skilled job is a workman under the definition of that term. So I conclude that the petitioner is a workman.” .
As per the Industrial Disputes Act, “workman” means any person employed in any industry doing any manual unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical, or supervisory work, for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied. According to legal experts, IT sector is an industry and its employees are workmen as per law despite them getting high salaries.