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SC strikes down demands of 110% effort from employees as unconstitutional

17, May 2010 By Pagal Patrakar

New Delhi. In a landmark judgment slated to benefit millions of employees working in the private sector, the Supreme Court today barred employers from asking their employees to give 110% to their companies. The honorable court observed that such a demand, or even a request to the employees for putting in anything over 100%, was against the basic principles of fair trade and amounted to breach of contract.

“When an employee joins a company, he signs a contract to provide his resources in exchange for a fixed salary. Since an employment contract has no clear mention of percentage of resources solicited from an employee, the implied term of the contract has to limit the usage of resources to 100% to make it reasonable and equitable.” the court ruled.

The ruling came after seven years long battle of Bhola Bhagat with his employers M/S Sparkle Shirts Private Limited. Bhola was thrown out of his company after he brought his little kid to his office to provide 110% to his company, which his boss had asked him to put in a day earlier.

“That was the only way I thought I could provide anything over 100% of myself. I was 35 years old then and my kid was 3.5 years old. I thought he could pitch in with the rest of the 10% that my boss wanted me to give.” Bhola recounted his story. His act was seen as a sign of indiscipline and Bhola was fired from his job, but he decided to fight for his rights.

Worried Employee
An employee trying to give something like 110%

While the Supreme Court didn’t agree with Bhola’s calculations of getting 10% of his work done by his kid, it found an employer’s demand of drawing anything over 100% of an employee’s resources as being unconstitutional.

“How would you feel if your customer wanted you to deliver 110 shirts for an agreed amount of price after you have raised the voucher of 100 shirts only? Will you not term such a demand as being unfair and an example of breach of contract?” the honorable court asked Sparkle Shirts counsel.

The court ordered Sparkle Shirts to take back Bhola in the company and refrain from asking employees to put in anything above 100% without renegotiating the terms of the contract such as salary, working hours, etc.

The verdict has come as a relief to millions of employees toiling in their offices on a busy Monday, as they hoped that things would soon improve.

“I was mighty pissed off when they had announced a salary cut last year due to recession and were asking us to put in 110% for the company.” Ravi, a software engineer working in one of the leading IT companies of India said, hoping that he won’t have to hear such stuff again.

But legal and HR experts believe that to circumvent the consequences of this verdict, companies could explicitly add clauses in their employment contract seeking consent of employees for extracting more than 100% of their resources.

“They can always get new people who would be willing to sign on the dotted lines if the current employees refuse to accept the modified contracts.” said a leading HR expert.