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Ask The Doctor with Sandeep Goyal

06-March-2018
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Ask The Doctor with Sandeep Goyal

Dear Sir, 
My previous agency is not releasing my salary. I have served the required notice period and it's been over two months since I have left. Every time I call the owner asks me to wait for him to clear payment as they are struggling and don't have funds. People are suggesting me to take legal action or complain to labour commission but I want to avoid it as I know the company is small and it will further damage them. But other former employees threatened them with a legal notice and got their payment cleared in a week. I am confused. Kindly suggest me the right way and also actions I should take in such situations.

Thanks, 
Aarav J.


Dear Aarav,
I can sympathise with your situation but you perhaps need to display more patience.

First things first, there is a difference between threatening to send a legal notice and actually sending one; then a big difference between sending a legal notice and actually going to court. We shall discuss all three situations and their implications. As far as going to the labour commission is concerned, let us negate from the list as this government body is meant, as the name suggests for 'labour' class employees (read blue collared, not white) and you are most likely not to get either help or relief from that quarter.

Threatening to send a legal notice is quite common and not to be taken seriously by all. So a mere threat, verbal or in writing, issued to your past employer is likely to have little or no impact.

Sending out a legal notice means going to a lawyer and paying him to send the notice. This may cost you a couple of visits, plus a few thousand rupees. My personal view is while this works better than the threat above, most organizations tend to ignore such notices as they have little or no follow-through-action most times. They are just seen as a more threatening way of conveying your seriousness. If you are lucky, the legal notice may red flag your issue within the company and they may release your dues to avoid unnecessary costs and hassles.

Actually going to court should be the last resort. First, you have to pay not just the lawyer for filing the plaint, but also for all the appearances in court. Plus, you have to pay some court fee. Therefore, you will be creating a not-so-insubstantial expense head for yourself, not counting the headache of attending court if you are serious about pursuing the case. The good thing is that chances are most companies will ask their counsel to settle the matter after a couple of preliminary hearings unless they have a serious issue with you.

My view in your case is that the most dignified way forward would be to personally go meet your past employer and try to obtain some commitment to getting your dues cleared in a time-bound manner. If the company has no funds; threats, legal notices or even going to court will not help. If the company is constrained for funds, then a patient one-to-one approach would help reduce friction and animosity, especially if they actually have the intent to pay.

From the other side of the table, as an employer, my view is that most employees tend to show no grace in their exit. In my various companies, we have been faced with situations of large outstanding's and pending commercial issues related to clients which departing employees have left unresolved. We then institutionalized a clause in employment letters that full and final (F&F) settlements of exiting employees would only be made after commercial clearance on their accounts. This has led to bad blood at times but as an employer, I have had no choice but to take a hard stance. So, there are always two sides to the story.

In your case, as advised above, go easy. Show patience. A couple of visits to the old office may be better than threats and confrontation.

Dear Sir,

I have been working on an account for the last three years. My girlfriend who works for another agency has now been assigned to the same account. We work on completely different portfolios and as of now, there is no overlap in our work. But there is a strong rumour going around that my part of the business will soon be put up on review and an agency pitch will be called. If that happens, my girlfriend's agency will be competing for our business and she and I will suddenly be in a position of conflict. My boss is not aware of the situation at least as far as my girlfriend now being on the same client profile is concerned. I do not know if I am pre-maturely getting paranoid. Should I legitimately inform my superiors of potential conflict? I am very confused and tensed.

Do advise urgently.
Anmol R.
Dear Anmol,
While I appreciate your overall concerns, I think you are over-reacting to situations which may be likely but yet to take place, and, well, may not take place. My advice: hold your horses. Cross the bridges only when you come to them.

A conflict of interest did not arise merely by your girlfriend getting assigned to the same client as you, from another agency. I do not intend to make this complicated but a girlfriend is not a spouse and the relationship carries no legal sanctity to impact your ability to perform your duties at work without fear or favour.

Also, currently, even your respective agencies have different portfolios with no conflict. If a pitch does get called, you may want to mention it to your boss that your girlfriend is working on the same pitch from another agency. It is then up to him to take the call whether any serious conflict of interest is likely to happen. My guess is that your going through the protocol of informing him would be enough and there is likely to be little action beyond that.

I think your problem is more personal. From your mail, I get this feeling that, somehow, assigning her to the same business is affecting you subliminally and subconsciously. Perhaps you are starting to see her as competition and, in your mind, perhaps the fear of being overshadowed by her. Come on, grow up. Learn to take these things in your stride. Keep work far away from love, life and romance. Enjoy your personal relationship without letting work cast a long shadow of doubt and distress.

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