Employers in India are abandoning the traditional practice of across-the-board annual raises to more targeted compensation strategies in which employees are increasingly expected to earn their raises through high performance or professional development, Saumya Bhattacharya reports at the Economic Times:
Last month, when Aon India Consulting announced the findings of its salary increase survey for 2017-18, average increment was estimated to be 9.4% for the year, almost the same as last year. From 2014 to 2018 (projections), average salary increment has declined from 10.4% to 9.4% — with the focus on performance becoming sharper each year. With the ability to learn new skills getting added to the high-performance matrix, the definition of top performers is also set to change.
Top performers, according to the new definition, would get an average salary increase of 15.4%, about 1.9 times that of an average performer, said the survey. … Experts say the phase of a large chunk of employees getting 14-15% increments is over. Ten years ago, you would have 20% of the organisation categorised as high performers. This has shrunk to 7.5% of the population in a company, they add.
Quartz’s Maria Thomas highlights new data from the Monster Salary Index, released by the online employment portal Monster India, showing that the longer Indian women work, the more their pay lags behind that of their male peers:
Data for 2017 show Indian women with three to five years of experience earn marginally higher median wages (1.09%) than men at the same level. But the tide begins to turn once employees have six to 10 years of experience, with men earning 15.3% more than women. And at over 11 years of experience, the gender pay gap becomes a startling 25%. …
These figures are particularly frustrating given all the obstacles women must typically overcome in the first place to make it to the top of their fields. To begin with, India’s conservative society still identifies bearing and caring for children as a woman’s primary role. That makes it incredibly difficult to juggle household responsibilities alongside professional ones. All the more so after childbirth—that is if at all new mothers are allowed to return to the workplace. Among those who are, only a lucky few can expect a reliable support system, including childcare facilities and flexible timings.
These challenges are by no means specific to India. Studies in the US and UK have also found that the gender pay gap starts small and grows over the course of people’s careers, with marriage and children playing a role in holding back the growth of women’s earnings as they either make sacrifices in their own career to accommodate their spouse’s, take career breaks to raise children, or find themselves shut out of promotions and stretch assignments due to family obligations (if not outright gender bias).
Because the gender role expectations placed on Indian women are even more restrictive than those of their peers in Western countries, the obstacle is that much greater, but not qualitatively different.
Bilal Aliyar m/Shutterstock
In keeping with President Donald Trump’s agenda of stopping alleged abuses of US work visa programs, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new policy on Thursday that will subject H-1B skilled worker visa applications to greater scrutiny. The changes, which USCIS says are meant to address abuses common among H-1B employers, mean that the agency “may request detailed documentation to ensure a legitimate employer-employee relationship is maintained while an employee is working at a third-party worksite.”
This will have a significant impact on the outsourcing firms that currently account for the bulk of H-1B visa applications, Ananya Bhattacharya explains at Quartz:
So, when Indian techies, who make for a majority of the H-1B applicants each year, apply for the visas now, they may have to furnish “evidence of actual work assignments,” the notice said. These include technical documentation, milestone tables, marketing analysis, cost-benefit analysis, brochures, and funding documents. In addition, the applications will also have to include various contracts, a worker’s itinerary, and detailed statements of work, among other things.
The move, in line with Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order from last year, will directly impact an entire cohort of Indian outsourcing firms like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro, and others. These companies often send workers from India, deputing them to third-party sites on a contract basis. … The closer scrutiny will also likely make H-1B extensions tougher to secure. To get the next round of approvals, the “petitioner should also establish that the H-1B requirements have been met for the entire prior approval period,” the USCIS said.
The US Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed regulatory change on Thursday that would take away the right of spouses of H-1B guest workers who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status to work legally while awaiting their green cards, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In 2015, the Obama administration introduced a program allowing these holders of H-4 visas (the visa granted to spouses of workers on H-1Bs so that they can live together in the United States) to obtain legal authorization to work. In a notice of intent to propose a rule next year, the department says it is proposing “to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.”
The notice cites the executive order President Donald Trump issued in April, titled “Buy American, Hire American,” which called on the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to crack down on the abuse of guest worker visa programs like the H-1B and H-4, and to amend procedures for allocating H-1B visas that award them based on merit rather than through a lottery.
Opponents of the Obama administration’s rule letting H-4 spouses work contend that it was an act of executive overreach (and are challenging it in court on that basis); the Trump administration “appears to be signaling that it intends to overturn it rather than defend it,” the Journal reports. Critics also say the previous administration did not do enough to ensure that H-4B holders did not displace American workers.
One reason why India has one of the lowest women’s workforce participation rates in the world is that Indian women at all levels of income and education are expected at some point to get married, have children, and turn their focus toward the home. Juggling a full-time family life and a full-time job often proves impossible, and women see their careers stagnate or even end after becoming mothers (i.e., the “motherhood penalty” they pay is even higher than it is for women in the US or Europe).
For Indian women professionals, one way to close this participation gap is to give them more opportunities to work flexibly, on their own schedules and outside a traditional office setting, so that mothers can handle their family responsibilities and remain active in the workforce. Women entrepreneurs in India have been developing services specifically geared toward these women, such as the online community and job search platform Sheroes.
Two entrepreneurs in Chennai, profiled by Sushma U N at Quartz on Wednesday, have taken the concept of a women’s professional networking space one step further. Earlier this year, Vandhana Ramanathan and Jinal Patel launched Wsquare, a women-only coworking space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers:
Female entrepreneurs can do with this support. Today, just around 14% of all Indian businesses are run by women, and many female professionals still battle workplace-related issues that deter them from pursuing their careers. It’s this segment that Wsquare is targeting. In the last eight months, over 150 women have registered to use the co-working facility, around 80% of whom are entrepreneurs. The rest are students, researchers, freelance professionals, or remote employees of large companies.
alexsl / istock
Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services and outsourcing company, announced on Tuesday that it would hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years, Madhura Karnik reports at Quartz, ostensibly in response to the Trump administration’s desire to crack down on the use of H-1B skilled worker visas:
The Bengaluru-based firm will also set up four technology and innovation hubs across the US, Infosys said in the release. The first one will be opened in Indiana in August and is expected to create 2,000 jobs by 2021.
“In helping our clients improve their businesses and pursue new kinds of opportunities, we are really excited to bring innovation and education in a fundamental and massive way to American workers,” Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said in the release. “Since joining Infosys nearly three years ago, it has been my personal endeavor to help us get much closer to our clients, to co-innovate with them, on their most important business problems,” he added. Other IT companies, too, have been preparing to deal with the H-1B issue, filing fewer visa applications and increasing local hiring.
While the administration has yet to make any changes to the rules governing the distribution of H-1Bs, it has threatened to prosecute employers who overlook American workers and hire H-1B visa holders instead. US President Donald Trump has been sharply critical of the visa program, and there is bipartisan consensus in Congress that it is in need of some kind of reform. This has been unwelcome news for Indian IT professionals and the outsourcing companies that employ them by the hundreds of thousands, which take the lion’s share of H-1B visas each year.
Nonetheless, Infosys says the decision was a long time in the making, and not a reaction to Trump’s policy agenda, Wired’s Issie Lapowsky observes:
Toward the end of 2015, the Indian government introduced legislation to increase the statutory amount of paid maternity leave employers must offer new mothers from 12 to 26 weeks for all organizations with more than 10 employees; winding its way slowly through the legislature, the bill was approved by the upper house of parliament in August and cleared its final legislative hurdle when the lower house passed it last Thursday, which as the Times of India notes will give India the world’s third largest paid leave mandate for new mothers, after Canada’s 50 weeks and Norway’s 44.
Mothers are eligible for the full 26 weeks’ leave only after adding the first two children to their family, however; women having a third child are entitled to only 12 weeks, as are those who become mothers through adoption or surrogacy. The bill also directs employers to offer work-from-home options to mothers on their staff if the nature of the work permits it, and mandates that enterprises with 50 or more employees provide access to creches or daycare facilities for working mothers.
The law does not address paternity leave, but the Times points out that the subject came up in the parliamentary debate over the bill, with some MPs arguing that it would put women at a disadvantage in the job market to make paid leave mandatory for mothers and not fathers, effectively discouraging employers from hiring women for fear of having to give them extra benefits: