Treating the work from home option as “paid leave” has cost several employees of Symbiosis University dearly as they have been put under inquiry, and they have not received their salaries for May.
Scores of employees who travelled to their hometowns during the lockdown have been asked to explain why they did so without seeking permission from the university. They will now have to face a committee as, according to the university administration, employees were allowed to work from home but not travel out of town.
While on one hand disgruntled employees said they have been, or are willing to work from home, as is the trend at other workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic, the university maintained that rules were violated by employees.
According to a professor, a few of her colleagues opted to go out of town when the first phase of the lockdown started, or even earlier, hoping to return in time. “But the means of transport were closed, so they couldn’t return. Now the university has formed a committee and circulated forms, asking people to explain why they went back to their hometowns. There were no instructions earlier that staff can’t go to their hometowns,” she said.
Another professor said he and others have been taking lectures from home, and have also completed internal tests and assessments. “Some people even returned from their hometown after learning of the action, but they are under home quarantine now. Their current salary is pending,” he said.
Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis, confirmed that such a committee has been instituted and salaries have been put on hold until the staffers under inquiry furnish explanations. “This is an internal disciplinary matter. We announced work from home as soon as the government directives were issued, but staff was expected to be in isolation at home and not travel. Since there was no certainty on when things would resume, they were required to ask for leave as per university rules if they wanted to travel,” she said.
Yeravdekar said that for three months, salaries were paid to all staffers despite the shutdown but now that university work is set to resume and staffers are needed to come in, even with lesser strength, many were missing.
“They now tell us they are in their hometowns. Even if they come back, they will be under isolation for two weeks. This is a matter of discipline and also responsibility towards work. That’s why we have formed the committee and circulated forms. On a case-to-case basis, we will take a call on what action to take, ” she said.
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