Infosys encourages employees to go on a sabbatical and work for NGO’s


In the first time ever kind of move, Infosys has provided an option to employees to go on a sabbatical and work for NGO’s for a year. For an employee to qualify, he or she should be with Infosys for at least 2 years. Employees will be paid 50% salary during this time and the rest can be recovered from the NGO’s they are working with.

This news caught my attention for two reasons. One is the salary cut element. The other is the non-governmental organization (NGO) and Corporate Social Responsibility element. When I go through my feeds or the newspapers, what I see is either the job cuts or salary cuts or both. This is in addition to the bankruptcy and the recession talk. The job cuts are mostly coming from global companies but, Indian companies are not far behind.

Labor laws are a little strict in India and protect the employees in the private sector to some extent. This restriction has forced companies to look at alternative ways for reducing cost and work force. For this they are employing innovative ways. Weeding out non performers, firing over fudged bills and threatening to terminate are the things we have seen so far. But, 50% salary cut and going on a sabbatical is very new, innovative and takes the cake.

Coming to the second element which is working for a NGO element, drives the discussion to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The BS report states that, it is Narayana Murthy’s dream and has been on the cards for a while. It is the way one can give back to society. The details of this are still being worked out. It is purely voluntary and left to the employee to opt for it. I only hope more companies would follow Infy. I wish my company was offering this.

I would like to believe the reason is more to do with the CSR element rather than the cost cutting element. But, the timing of the move has coincided with turbulent times. Only time will tell if this was a strange coincidence.

Which one do you think is the right reason : cost cutting or social responsibility?

  1. Sankar says


    1. As you agreed for Pramod’s comments: Before Sridhar/Sudhir/Me or anyone else making comments could you tell me about Pramod’s ground work or yours…? As you didn’t mention anything about your work “for society” or without trying to understand what others are doing, it means the same for me that someone sitting in comfort seat and making comments.
    2. I’m really interested in sharing or learning your experiences “for society” on the field work.
    3. As far as the social work is concerned it’s everybody’s interest to take up something which they are willing..this is true… but a society interested person does not need a trend setter for the ground realities.

    Before telling somebody has not taken any initiative either try to know from them or first mention the initiatives of yours. I like to know about yours before making any comments…

    @For Both:
    For me it looks like both of you are very comfortable for getting the 50% from NGO as Infy sets the trend to get 100% of your needs. And no percentage of interest on society…

    Please share your brilliant ideas irrespective of what we are getting now 100% or 0% of salary from our company, how to spend little or more money from my packet and my time for society. I’m interested. I really don’t want a seat (for my comfort) but need a place to stand (comfortably).

    Truly the trend set by Infosys to rob money from NGO is not a welcome one “for society”.

    ~ SW Engineer @Economic Slowdown

  2. Sriram Vadlamani says

    @Sudhir : I am curious. What does Sridhar do?

  3. Sudhir says

    @Pramod & Shantanu: May be you should visit Sridhar and see what he does. When I was in Infy, a common friend introduced me to him and I visited him few times. Those visits did change my preception of ground realities and gave me some idea of Sridhar’s work. It is worthwhile to spend some time and money to visit him.

  4. V.Sridhar says

    I have to sincerely thank Pramod & Shantanu for the excellent arm chair comments. The crux of the matter is our opinion on the policy of Infy. Despite the compliments given by our conceientitious friends, my opinion about the policy remains the same — that it is a fraud on the society.
    Since our friends have not bothered to check what we are doing before they gave those compliments, I presume that their opinion on NM & infy also would be of the same nature — empty and prejudicial!. Hence I am not in a postion to carry those compliments with me. I therefore feel sorry for ignoring such encomiums.

  5. Shantanu says

    I truly agree with you Pramod. All those who have these brilliant ideas about helping the society, why don’t you guys get out of your comfort seat & actually do something about the society instead of passing those brilliant comments.It is easy to say things that do it. So stop making those idiotic comments about Infy having some hidden motive behind it.This is specially for you V. Sridhar Kudos to Infosys. They truly are a trend setter.

  6. Pramod says

    For those who do not see eye to eye with Mr Narayan Murthy or Infosys – this is purely voluntary on the employee’s part. Infosys is NOT forcing a certain number or class of it’s employees to take sabatical and work for NGO’s. For those who have very nice and interesting ideas about helping the society, why don’t you start an initiative like the one you are talking about.

  7. Sriram Vadlamani says

    @Sridhar : You have added one more dimension to this interesting story. Getting a salary from NGO did not go well with me too.
    Very well done.

  8. V.Sridhar says

    I remember a lot of noise created by the India Inc , Narayana Murthy, inclusive when reservation issues were on Prime Time TV. They spoke eloquently about strenghtening primary schools. If Infy puts these ideas in practice across the country by taking at least one Govt school peopled by first generation learners in each Taluk and builds an academic ambience of quality that Narayana Murthy would want his grandchildren to be in, then I can sort of see it as a partial fulfilment of its CSR.
    Asking the employees to draw a salary from NGO is like ‘robbing the money meant for the poor’ by increasing the NGO overheads and decreasing Infy’s overheads. Only a commie of the type of Narayana Murthy can come up such plans.
    What prevents him from asking the whiz kids of his organisation to map the taluks and identify the schools and negotiate with the Govt for adopting those schools only for the purpose of improving the academic ambience and may be for appointing , training and paying additional teachers so as to reduce the teacher student ratio to below 1:20 in these schools where first generation rural learners go with hopes but return in tatters.
    So I conclude that the above scheme is cunning fraud on the society as a whole.

  9. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Sumedh, the point that Sriram makes is very valid and I tend to agree with him. WHy was this not implemented earlier? If it was Narayana Murthy’s vision it should have been implemented when he was at the helm.

    Infact, at that time I remember, they spent hell lot of money on comforts of their employees…they could have surely taken this step as well…

    Also, Infosys have done their maths very well…paying 50% salary, although may be a burden on Infosys…it works out much cheaper instead paying the whole CTC and keeping them on the project acquisitions are going downhill.

  10. Sriram Vadlamani says

    @Sumedh @A
    I think its a win-win situation. But you are true Infy woulnd’t have done this in 2005-06. If it was Narayana Murthy’s vision it should have been implemented when he was at the helm.

    @Brijesh : The 100 most accountable companies list and the conclusions drawn are misdirected. 100 companies Fortune took are the top 100 global companies (by market cap). The highest ranked Indian company is Indian Oil Corporation at 116.

  11. A says

    I think its a cost cutting measure over CSR. With so many people likely to be on bench and Infy having to pay their full salaries or lay them off which will cause ripples, they have designed this scheme. Would they have come up with the same idea when out-sourcing was at its peak and when their income directly proportional to the head-count ?? Probably not…

    But I have to admit that this is a win-win situation for everybody and far better than being fired abruptly.

  12. Sanjay Bapat says

    I believe Infosys means CSR for several reasons, most important is the value system of the founders. Not many may know that the founders themselves have been supporting various NGOs and causes without making a noise about it.

  13. Brijesh Tripathi says

    am sure other companies are soon to follow suit..
    fortune’s “world’s 100 accountable companies” (where there isn’t even one company from india) has done something for them to move this way – and i wonder.

  14. Sumedh says

    I feel it’s an excellent example of how corporates can benefit for the betterment of larger society…

    Kudos to Infy management for this innovative step! They rock!

    I would say it’s DEFINITELY not a cost cutting step…because that 50% salary they’ll be paying is not going to be covered by clients of Infy…this should be a burden on Infy’s balance sheet…and more like a social responsibility cost, than cost cutting…

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