Employment Fraud – Phoney companies and fake jobs.

It has become a familiar story in India, Bangalore in particular. Fly-by-night companies, crop up in shiny new technology parks, lure fresh engineering graduates with the promise of a world class training and a lucrative job, in return for a security deposit, and then disappear without a trace (and of course with the security deposit).

And then there is this new breed of phoney consultants brewed by greed – typically senior employees in large organisations – who set up legitimate start-up companies, usually in the name of their kith and kin, to avoid suspicion, and lure programmers and designers from their organisation – typically junior engineers – to work in the evenings and weekends. For those who catch the bait, it’s a little extra on the road, but the danger of losing their credibility is closer than ever.

Whether you are a fresh graduate attempting to climb the greasy career pole or an experienced engineer in the company of bad mentors or managers, here’s a list of things to watch out for (borrowing Steven R Covey’s lines, these are mostly common sense but not common practice):

1. As a first rule, never accept a job offer which asks you to pay a deposit. For that matter, never accept to attend interviews in return for a commission to the recruitment consultant. No company worth its salt will ask their potential employees to pay a commission to attend an interview.

2. When you receive an interview call or are searching for jobs in the classifieds, do some research to check out the Company and the people behind it before deciding to proceed. The market is so unregulated that anyone from anywhere with virtually no qualification can set up a recruitment firm and start advertising for jobs. Tread carefully when dealing with Job consultants. There are many professional firms, but equally there are several unscrupulous ones waiting to con you.

3. Never accept an offer of employment over the phone or agree to part with cash. Always insist on getting a formal letter of employment and keep a copy for your records. Read the offer letter carefully to check if there is anything that describes payment of a deposit or salary hold back for any reason. It is good to take legal advice if in doubt, but clarifying with the employer should be your first choice.

4. If one of your colleagues or managers gets close to you and offer you some extra work over the weekend, usually for a bulk payment through a third party company, politely turn it down. It might sound enticing, burst of quick money for a few days’ work, but remember that your credibility is on the line. The person who coerced you into this would be long gone leaving you to fight for your credibility.

Of course, amidst the excitement of a job offer, or a little extra money for a few weekend’s work, there is little or no awareness to tick all the boxes. However, overlooking these simple things can jeopardise your career in the long run.

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