Implication: job offers made at campus selection are not final

IT major HCL, which has been making headlines after industry freshers took to the streets opposing their recruitment policies, has in its formal reply to the State Labour Department said the letters of intent (LOI) given to the campus hires is “legally non-binding”.

“Candidates represented/referred in the complaint were issued legally non-binding LOI whereby they were merely short-listed for suitable opportunity, which may arise with HCL, in line of job openings and demands from time to time,” the letter states. HCL submits that the issuance of LOI is only “one of the steps in the recruitment process”, thereby implying that job offers made during campus recruitments are not final until appointment letters are sent.

Most companies hire in the seventh semester, and the final appointment letters are only given at the end of the course. During their agitation, the students had submitted that having been promised a job in HCL, they had not sat for recruitment drives of other companies and had lost crucial opportunities.

HCL, in its letter, points out that given the non-legally binding nature of the LOIs, there is no legal case against it. It points out that there is no “employer-employee relationship between HCL and any candidate and in the absence of such a relationship the complainants have no locus-standi to file the complaint”.

Maligning reputation

Imploring the Labour Department to reject the complaint and withdraw the notice, the letter claims that the company has been “repeatedly targeted by persons taking undue advantage of the situation”, and with the intention of maligning the reputation of the company. It also suggests that those who have lodged the complaint do not represent other candidates.

The company submits that it has on-boarded 1,000 candidates who were issued letters of intent and to 200 others, who are slated to join over April and May in the IT Infrastructure Management line of business. It may be recalled that when the HCL issue first came to light, the company offered the engineers, recruited for HCL Technologies, jobs at HCL Infrastructure. Several candidates rejected these jobs saying that the jobs paid much less than the jobs they were offered, and were not in the domain that they had applied for.

The delays, as HCL has said in previous statements, are attributed to the “constrained-growth in the IT services industry”. The company also points out that the situation has created an industry-wide delay in job openings.

Labour Department officials said they are considering the next course of action. “We will talk to the complainants and tell them about this response. Legally, we can intervene under the Industrial Disputes Act if a section of the workforce supports this complaint. In this case, there is no precedence for such a thing and we will have to consider what step we can take on this.”