Employment contracts/ Bonds with restrictive covenants, are becoming very common in Pakistan. Companies usually recruit fresh graduates or part time students for entry level jobs on the condition that they have to enter into a 1 or 2 year contract with the company. The contract is legally enforceable as it is drawn up on a stamp paper. If an employee wishes to leave any time before the term of the contract, then a sum of money usually equal to 6 months of salary is payable to the employer by the employee. I want to highlight the following matters, especially for fresh graduates and job seekers.
A lot of companies are misusing these employment contacts/ bonds by manipulating, intimidating and exploiting employees. Fresh graduates are usually inexperienced with job market and considering the widespread unemployment, they are eager to enter such contracts/ bonds without much thought. Apart from people with low qualifications, even highly qualified people, such as MBA’s and Chartered Accountants are made to sign such contracts. Many companies carry out misleading and deceptive job advertising and with the help of their Human resource department and convoluted job titles, lure people into signing an employment bond with the company. Faced with the stress of unemployment, many people are forced to enter into such contracts on low salaries.
In many cases, no training or enhancement of employees is done and the bond amounts are very unreasonable. Disgruntled from such job experiences in Pakistan, many highly qualified individuals are going abroad for employment, taking with them their knowledge, experience and valuable degrees. Usually, companies that have a policy of making employees sign employment bonds, have an alarmingly high employee turnover rate.
Bonds are usually applicable only if the company has spent money on the personal grooming and enhancement of the employees, but not just a training that helps employees perform better. If the Employee could prove in court that there was no consideration for the Bond in the form of training etc. then in such cases they will not be required to pay the Bond Amount. However, there is virtually no way that an employee can prove in court that the bond amount does not reflect the expenditure of the company on the employee.
Government of Pakistan needs to ensure that such contracts/ bonds are either strictly regulated or in my opinion, should be declared illegal and void. For the most part, there is law of the jungle in Pakistan, and a common man has little or no idea what basic human rights are. Nonetheless, i hope the educated lot raises this issue and exposes companies that are exploiting labour and making a mockery of employee rights.