Karnataka labour department’s moves to ask manufacturing and staffing firms to go for police verification of workers they intend to get on board could disrupt their hiring programme, fear industry executives.

The officials are insisting private firms to go for background checks to prevent untowards incidents at the workplace later like the ones iPhone maker Wiston witnessed in December at its plant in Kolar. While the labour department has not issued an official notification yet, it is planning to put in place a system so that men with criminal background don’t get into shop floors.

A senior executive at a staffing firm said the time taken for police verification itself could slow down their hiring schedules. “Our police stations are not interconnected. Say if a company in Bengaluru is hiring workers, and applicants are from other parts of Karnataka or a different state altogether, how do we get a no-objection- certificate,” he asked, not willing to be identified. “The system is not well-equipped, and there are lots of challenges in the process,” he added.

Those who are privy to the partially digital police verification of over 6,000 employees at Wistron following the labour riots said it was slow and mired in problems. The labour department had mandated police verification of all employees at Wistron while re-hiring them.

Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) president Arasappa KB said the system if made mandatory could make life worse for small scale units. “We hire employees in small numbers and it is not feasible for a small factory owner to walk in to the police station to check the background of workers we hire. We cannot insist on job aspirants to get the NoC when many of us are already fighting a shortage of skilled manpower,” he said.

KV Rajendra Hegde, president at Bidadi Industries Association said even if the government introduces such a rule, it should exempt small companies. “There is a trust factor between the employer and employees in small organisations. Moreover, the employer will easily recognise any suspicious behaviour in employees.”

Quess Corp chief operating officer Guruprasad Srinivasan said the verification can be speeded up by making it simple and fully digital. “The integrated database of job applicants should be made accessible to employers to weed out candidates with criminal history. They should also allow employers to share information on the database if an employee has a criminal antecedent,” he said.

The labour department, however, has maintained that it has taken this step in the interest of employers and employees. “A large number of women work in factories and we have even enabled them to work during night hours. Who is responsible if something goes wrong? Therefore, we want employers to take precaution and go for police verification,” labour minister A Shivaram Hebbar told ET.

The department, he said, has not issued an order on this matter yet, but they are asking companies to do this on priority.

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