Tarun Reflex

November 15, 2008

Infosys exhorts employees to go on 1-yr sabbatical, work for NGOs

India’s second-largest information technlogy services provider, Infosys Technologies, has issued letters to its employees stating they could opt for a one-year sabbatical to engage themselves in philanthropic activities. They would continue to draw 50 per cent of their salary during the period. Infosys crossed the 100,000-employee mark in India in the quarter ended September 30, 2008.
The company said that while the move may have coincided with the global financial turmoil and slowing growth rates of IT firms, it should be perceived as a pure voluntary act by employees who are prompted by altruistic motives and inspired by the example of its chairman and chief mentor, NR Narayana Murthy.

The employees, an internal memo said, need to be on the company rolls for at least two consecutive years before they are eligible for the offer and a panel comprising senior members of the Infosys leadership team will decide each case. “This policy will promote volunteerism among employees and we believe that the value and benefits arising from it will have an impact on community, the employees and ultimately, the company,” it said.

Sources said that the policy came into force only a few days back and the company is working out the finer points like whether the employees will be given any salary or emolument during the sabbatical. However, it is understood that the company is planning to pay some amount of the salary, while the rest the employees can earn from the NGO they are working for.
An Infosys spokesperson confirmed the development: “We introduced this policy almost two months back, which allows the employees to go on up to one year of sabbatical to engage in philanthropic activities. All the employees have been communicated the policy internally.” When asked how much the employees will be paid during that time, the spokesperson said they will be given 50 per cent of the salary, while the other half will be given by the respective NGOs they work with.

“It’s a part of Narayana Murthy’s desire to give back to the society, which is driven by the fact that many employees quit their jobs to pursue philanthropic activities. This would give such employees an option to pursue their hobby while still continuing with the jobs, even if they will be paid a small amount by the company. The employees can go out with a cut in their salaries, even though the final details are being worked out by the company,” a source close to the development told Business Standard.

Infosys has a good deal of exposure to the sectors which have been worst hit by the current global economic meltdown such as banking and financial services, telecom and retail. In the last quarter, the company had announced that some of its clients in their sectors are coming back to re-negotiate. In a recent report, brokerage house CLSA had forecast that Infosys might miss its dollar revenue guidance for the third quarter, and may even post a sequential fall in the quarter.
The CLSA report also acknowledged that the flow of IT deals from the BFSI segment has “worsened substantially” and that long-term deals are being offered on “very tough terms”, thus putting pricing under serious threat as customers play one vendor against the other.

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