Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Barriers to Mobility

There is lot of noise about the world becoming flat and jobs and opportunities moving to where the talent / value is at the best possible price. That premise is valid, if and only if we humans allow the world to become flat. More walls have come up since Berlin wall came down in 1989. Israel has walled large sections of West Bank virtually creating Palestinian ghettos. US and India have been building walls with its neighbors too. But this article is not about international politics or about people mobility across the borders.. It is about people mobility within India. So let me get back to the subject on hand..

Indian IT companies are rejoicing the fact that hordes of jobs are moving to India from other parts of the world. But the IT companies themselves are raising exit barriers to stem the attrition. InfoSys is asking its employees to sign non-compete agreement with this years annual raise. Interestingly, this non-compete document specifically names certain SI companies (IBM, TCS, Accenture, Wipro & CTS) that the employees cannot join for six months from the exit date.

According to the reports, the non-compete agreement specifies Infosys' competitors as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Accenture, IBM Global Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Wipro.

The agreement letter also mentions that the employees cannot accept job offers even from its clients (which they have serviced in the last 12 months) for a period of six months.

The clause will make it difficult, if not impossible, for employees to find employment with its customers and some of its competition.

I know that most of the freshers are asked sign bond for a couple of years to stick with a company, but this exit barrier for everyone is new. Will this stand in the court of law? Is this enforceable?

IT companies in India are having a great time with the jobs moving from all over. But they don't want their employees to have the same kind of mobility. The bottom line seems to be, I want to protect my turf and I want everyone else (read other countries) to lower their barriers so more jobs can move freely. !!!