On your own terms

To ease and improve your functionality as an employee, it's important to be clear about your company's HR policies and terms of engagement, says Devashish Chakravarty.

You've just snagged a new job, but do you know your CTC (cost to company) break-up? Are you aware of the casual leave you are entitled to or the company policy on transfers? Surprisingly, most employees, and occasionally HR managers, are confused about such policies.

To ensure that you are not caught on the wrong foot, here are some standard industry practices applicable to a majority in the organised sector. It is, however, important to check for specific policies and regulations governing your industry.

Changes in Terms of Engagement
Neither you nor your employer can change the terms of agreement without the other's consent. However, this does not mean that consent is impossible to obtain.

Neither you nor your employer can change the terms of an agreement without obtaining the formal consent of the other party.
For instance, when most companies were grappling with recession in 2008-9, they resorted to costcutting, including benefits and salaries. Employees understood that the market circumstances had changed and agreed to the cuts. An employee association can also seek changes, but these would typically be binding on you, even if you are not part of the association. You could also ask for changes individually.

Change in Salary on Transfer
A transfer is clearly a request for a change in your agreement with the firm. If you have a good case and are known to create value for the firm, your request should go through. The salary would be a separate matter. Various industries have different salary bands for different cities, a compensatory allowance to balance the difference in costs of living. Most firms also bear relocation expenses, so check with the HR. If not, you can always negotiate for a grant or a raise.

Leave Policy
Your leave policy is transparent and available to you for reference at all times. What you really need to do is plan how to avail of the leaves. Utilise earned or privileged leaves judiciously because these can be encashed or carried forward. If you are moving jobs, check whether the leave entitlement applies to you in the first few months of joining. So, if you have any contingencies coming up, inform the company at the time of getting the job offer. If an unplanned contingency arises and you have no leaves left, speak to your manager to explore other options. To make it easier for him, present a concrete plan on how your responsibilities will be taken care of in your absence.

 Dealing with Termination

The Final Handshake
If the firm is shutting down a vertical, downsizing or changing business focus, it typically creates a severance package for the employees who lose jobs. It is possible to negotiate favourable terms.

Full and Final
Apart from the above, remember to collect your last salary, bonuses and commissions that are due, reimbursements for expenses and encashed leaves. If you are fortunate, your company may even have unemployment benefits.

Body and Mind
Check out the company-sponsored health and life insurance plans and get details on how you can continue the plan by taking on the payments. Also, to make your new job search less stressful, request and obtain a reference letter detailing your profile, dates and quality of work.

Return Unto Caesar...
...what belongs to Caesar. Make sure you have returned all company equipment that was in your charge. Any important letters, files and documents also need to be returned. Get a clearance certificate from all the departments concerned well in advance.

Keep it Amicable
If you are resigning, find out about the notice period to be served or paid off. Check with your new employers if they are willing to buy out your notice period.
Employee Background Screening
Resum fraud affects 30-40% of all applications in certain industries. So, most MNCs and reputed Indian firms either hire the services of third-party employee background screening firms or task their HR teams to verify details on resums.

Your new employer would probably request you to sign a letter permitting him to verify the details. The information could be sought from HR, your managers or colleagues.

This check could be objective, such as designation and salary, or subjective, such as an opinion on you being eligible to be re-hired by your former employer. Negative reports are usually the result of employees failing to complete their notice periods or settling dues.

If you think some information could be detrimental to you, it's best to set the record straight in advance. It's also a good idea to inform your previous employer to expect a verification call.

CTC vs Take Home Salary
Break down the components of your CTC into broad categories- monthly compensation, yearly compensation, deferred compensation and intangibles. Base salary, city and travel allowances, etc, are part of your monthly payments. Year-end bonuses can be fixed or variable. Medical reimbursements may be part of your year-end compensations and may require bills. Deferred payments include provident fund and gratuity.

Intangibles include a degree or training. Depending on your requirements, you can negotiate for the component that holds most value for you. Gratuity and provident funds are excellent long-term investments, but require you to stay in the game for some time for the investments to reach a substantial size. If you are likely to move jobs in a short duration, the gratuity component may not be triggered.

Perks on Being Sent Abroad
Typically, firms have a standard policy in place for the employees who travel abroad. Most offer complete salary in India, with accommodation and meal reimbursements for foreign stays. You could also get a daily allowance instead of organised lodging, transport and meals, offering flexibility in managing your finances. Also check for telephone or travel reimbursement and medical cover.

Devashish Chakravarty
The writer is CEO, Quetzal, a human resource solutions company started by four IIM-A graduates.