Habitual absentee employees cannot take their jobs, and the money they earn from them, for granted forever. They can be removed by the employer. Moreover, they can’t even hope for some help from court as a recent judgement by the Madras High court shows. The HC decision came on a writ petition filed by a person, who claimed to have been removed from job on false grounds. However, it was later revealed that he was a habitual absentee and, hence, not suitable for any kind of sympathy or mercy.
Petitioner P Venkatachalam had joined Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation as a Driver on July 16, 1986. Venkatachalam claimed before the court in writ petition that he had met with an accident while working at Johnsonpet branch of the corporation on July 28, 2000 and admitted to a Government Hospital, Mettur. Subsequently, he was shifted to a private hospital for treatment. He further claimed that the corporation started disciplinary proceedings against him, and a charge memo was issued on August 8, 2000, but he could not respond as he was undergoing treatment.
The transport corporation had said in the charge memo that Venkatachalam remained unauthorizedly absent, which amounted to misconduct as per Section 19 (1)(F) of the Standing orders of the corporation. The petitioner narrated the reason of his absence while responding to the show-cause notice from his employer. Also, while requesting the corporation for reinstatement, he even assured to not repeat it.
However, the management of transport corporation dismissed the driver on January 1, 2001, following which he approached the Labour Officer, Salem, Labour Court and later the High Court to get his job back, but with no success. The HC agreed with the decision of the Labour Court which had dismissed the driver’s claim.
The corporation had argued that it was not a charitable organisation. "If the writ petitioner continues his bad habit, no employer can retain him in employment." It said that the driver was a "habitual absentee" who was punished for his behaviour several times in past.
The Labour Court also concluded that "in such cases of misconduct, the Courts cannot show any leniency or misplaced sympathy". The Labour Court had found that the petitioner was awarded minor punishments for 35 misconduct previously. However, even after 35 punishments, the petitioner had not taken any step to reform himself.
The HC order came on September 9, 2019.