The Supreme Court recently held that an employee who abandons work voluntarily cannot be defined as an employee who is in “continuous service”, which is a requirement for the applicability of section 25F of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 (IDA).
In Manju Saxena v Union of India & Anr, Manju Saxena was working at HSBC bank as a “senior confidential secretary to the senior manager”, a post that became redundant after the officer she supported left the bank. The bank subsequently offered Saxena four alternate posts that were of the same pay scale as her previous post, and did not require her to obtain extra educational qualifications. However, Saxena rejected all of the alternate posts offered to her and the bank terminated her employment by paying six months’ compensation in lieu of the notice provided under the employment contract instead of compensation for retrenchment.
Saxena then raised a dispute before a conciliation officer under IDA and sought an enhancement of compensation, but did not seek reinstatement. The Central Government Industrial Tribunal, Delhi (CGIT) ordered her reinstatement in service with full back wages. The order was challenged by the bank by filing a writ petition before Delhi High Court, which remanded the matter to CGIT for fresh consideration as to whether Saxena fell under the ambit of “workman” under IDA.