Appointment Letter : Unveiling The Legal Framework


An appointment letter establishes the relationship of employment and lays down the terms and conditions of employment of an employee by an organisation.

However, it has been observed that many companies show the least importance to this document. Many are unaware of the consequences of an ill-drafted appointment letter. An appointment letter acts as the centerpiece of the employee-employer relationship along with the policies of the organization and the applicable law. For example, an ambiguity in the termination clause in an appointment letter as to the computation and buyout of the notice period may give rise to conflict between the employee and the organization with each keeping in mind their own interests. Again, if the retirement age is not stipulated in an appointment letter, the employer may not be able to retire an employee as long as they are mentally and physically fit.

Further, the labour laws are employee friendly, and the courts in India have given a liberal interpretation to clauses in appointment letters and/or policies and practices of the organizations in favour of the employees. Therefore, in order to avoid legal and financial complexities, it is always recommended to include appropriate and precise verbiage with regard to the rights and obligations of the employer and employee. In case there is no explicit verbiage regarding the payment of statutory benefits such as gratuity, it can give rise to a claim for payment, for example, gratuity by employees even before completion of the requisite period of continuous service as per the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972[1]. In the case of non-statutory payments, these payments may fructify into a service condition in case of the absence of a clause to qualify the eligibility of such payments and the employees may claim it as a matter of right leading to disgruntlement and a non-conducive work environment.

Likewise, in the scenario of the globalized economy, businesses are establishing their offices across geographical territories, giving rise to the need to move their resources between offices. Though transfer has been held to be a matter of business exigency[2], there is always scope for disgruntlement by transferred employees in case of failure of the organisation to stipulate a transfer clause in the appointment letter or in the policies of the company. Further, moonlighting[3] has threatened businesses across the globe for breach of confidentiality and/or disciplinary issues, and the absence of clause declaring moonlighting as misconduct may cause potential damage to the organization in terms of its ability to deal with moonlighting and also to the finances and reputation of the organization in the long run.

In recent times, cases of failure of asset submission by an exited employee and failed background verification are on the rise. Despite this, many companies have failed to incorporate a recovery clause in the appointment letter, thereby, restricting the rights of organisations to recover the cost of assets from the full and final settlement of those exited employees who have not submitted the assets[4]. Further, submission of forged documents may declare an employee unfit for employment[5], leading to termination due to failed background verification[6], most companies have failed to incorporate clauses in the appointment letter which shall strike a balance between the organization’s and the employee’s interest.

A clearly worded and precise appointment letter will allow the organisation to avoid moments of “getting hoisted by one’s own petard”, with potentially detrimental effects on the financial health as well as the reputation and brand image of the organisation.

To ensure that the organisation’s appointment letter is fit for the purpose, it is advisable that the following aspects be kept in mind:

  1. Clear provisions as to the job description, compensation and benefits, working hours, place of work and transfer. As, an informed employee cannot claim to have the right to work at a particular place[7].

  2. Compliance with state-specific legislation as applicable to the location of the establishment, for example, the Delhi Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1954[8]and the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961[9]both lay down specific requirements to be met in appointment letters.

  3. Provisions as to the payment of statutory obligations, keeping in mind the requirements of law.

  4. A clause regarding the granting of bonuses other than statutory bonuses and increments to qualify the employee to be eligible for such increment and to ensure that such payments are not taken as a matter of course[10].

  5. The rise in the number of cases with regard to probationers claiming permanency[11] and termination[12] has shed light on the need to draft better policies and clauses with regard to the period of probation, confirmation method, and extended period among others.

The aforementioned are just the tip of the iceberg of the consequences of the failure to incorporate clauses in an appointment letter. It is also to be noted that an appointment letter is the beginning of an employment relationship with an employer. It has been held in a plethora of cases[13] that an appointment letter is one of the determining factors to establish an employee-employer relationship. Accordingly, it is essential that the terms are precise and detailed as well as acceptable to both parties.

Given the judicial weightage to appointment letters and the pedestal given for the employer-employee relationship, any change in the appointment letter cannot be made unilaterally[14] by the employer.

To conclude, the key document which establishes and continues to hold both employer and employee accountable to each other must be given the right importance and any change to be made must to be given due consideration from a legal as well as from a human resources perspective, as it has the potential to impact an organisation’s finances, work culture and reputation.

Advocate & Associate

[1] Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Coporation Ltd. vs. Jagdish Narain Rawat, 2013 LLR (SN) 1112.

[2] Pomila Vs. The State of H.P. and Ors Pomila, Civil Writ Petition No.5751 of 2021

[3] For more details on moonlighting, visit

[4] To read on failure to return assets, visit

[5] Kiran Thakur vs. Resident Commissioner Bihar Bhavan, W.P.(C) 1668/2014

[6] For more details on BGV, visit

[7] Gujarat Electricity Board Vs. Atmaram Sungomal Poshani AIR 1989 SC 1433

[8] Section 34 of the Delhi Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1954.

[9] Section 6A od the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961.

[10] M.R. Shah v. Life Insurance Corporation of India L.P.A. No. 1050/97

[11] Management of Express Newspapers Ltd. v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, AIR 1964 SC 806; High Court of Madhya Pradesh Vs. Satya Narayan Jhavar, 2001 (7) SCC 161

[12] Pavanendra Narayan Verma v. Sanjay Gandhi PGI of Medical Sciences 2002 (1) SCC 520; K.V. Krishnamani v. Lalit Kala Academy, AIR 1996 SC 2444

[13] Automobile Association Upper India Vs. P.O. Labour Court II & Anr. 2006 (130) DLT 160; Shambhu & Anr Vs. M/S Sugan Drycleaners & Anr, W.P.(C) 9732/2015.

[14] Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited Vs. K.K. Gandhi and Ors., 2019 LLR 888

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Archana Madan – POSH Specialist & Advocate

Archana Madan Kohli is an advocate with close to 15 years experience in in-house and law firm roles. At BCP Associates, she specialises in providing various services to clients under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”). Archana is the External Member of the Internal Committee of multiple organizations across sectors and is well versed in handling POSH inquiries. She also handles POSH queries, including drafting and reviewing policies and assisting in setting up Internal Committees.

Archana is also a trainer, delivering specialised sessions for Managers and Senior Management, Employee General Awareness sessions for all employees and Internal Committee training. Apart from English, Archana is fluent in delivering training sessions in Hindi, and Punjabi.

Archana started her career with Bharti Infratel Limited moved on to Wipro Limited, Adecco India Private Limited, Cloudnine Hospitals, Virinchi Limited and Medicover Hospitals in different capacities.

Archana holds a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) degree from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. She has earned her Post Graduate Diploma in Drafting, Negotiation and Enforcement of Contracts from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad with distinction.

B. Chandrashekar Shetty - Advocate

Mr. Chandrashekar Shetty is a Senior Labour Law Compliance Auditor at BCP Associates and has audited multiple client companies across India. He is also a member of our senior legal advisory practice. Previously he has worked as Deputy Controller, Manager-Industrial Relations and Industrial Relations Officer in KPTCL, Bangalore for more than 30 years. Prior to this, he has dealt with Legal, Personnel and IR matters including Wage Settlements, Grievance Machinery, Manpower Study and Social Security Compliances for about 10 years. He is a Faculty member of Labour Law, HRD Centre, KPTCL Bangalore.

Mr. Shetty holds a B.Com. and L.L.B. degree, Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, Diploma in Public Relations from Bangalore University and PG Diploma in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. He is enrolled as Advocate in Karnataka Bar Council and is a Govt. Arbitrator of Chit Funds in Karnataka.

S Venugopal Rao

S Venugopal Rao is an experienced labour law and service matters expert and is a member of the senior advisory team at BCP Associates. Having joined the chambers of Mr. B C Prabhakar in 2012, he is knowledgeable and well versed in multiple employment and labour law topics.

S Venugopal Rao holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Karnataka University, Dharwar and Bachelor of Law from Bangalore University. He enrolled as advocate in Karantaka State Bar Council in 1976. He joined the chamber of Sri. Kolachalam Srinivasa Rao a leading civil advocate. After practicing for 6 years at Ballari, he joined Orient Paper Mills, Orissa (of G P Birla Group). He was designated as Manager (Law) under the Factories Act in 1995. In 1999, he joined Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills Rajahmundry as Manager Legal and was subsequently elevated as Dy. General Manager (Legal). As Factory Manager & Legal Head, he oversaw compliance of Factories Act and Rules there under towards safety, health and welfare, including compliance under Pollutions and Environmental laws and Explosives Act, etc. Additionally, he is well acquainted with Environment Management System ISO 14001: 2004, Occupations, Health and Safety Series 18000:1999. As Legal head in APPM he has briefed and appeared along with Senior Advocate before Appellate Authority constituted under Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act. He retired from the services of Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills in 2011.

As legal head he has handled important cases both in Labour and Civil and has experience in drafting and vetting Contracts, Agreements, Lease Agreement, Conveyance Deeds, , Affidavits and scrutiny of several legal and other documents, Preparing and settling Petitions, Appeals, Plaints, Written Statements, Rejoinders, Affidavits and Written Arguments etc. for submission/pleadings for various legal proceedings.

C K Devappa Gowda - Advocate

C.K. Devappa Gowda (CKD) is an Advocate and Labour Law expert. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Mysore and a Degree in Bachelor of Law from Bengaluru respectively. He also holds a Diploma in Social Service Administration from the National Institute of Social Science, Bengaluru. After completing his studies, he had enrolled as a Advocate and initially practiced in the Civil Code attached to the office of BCP. He then worked as Personnel Officer in Chemicals and Textile Manufacturing Industries for 5 years. Thereafter took up employment in one of the largest Public Sector Bank. He has worked in different parts of the country and has extensive experience in the cross country IR domain. The significant part of his service was at corporate level overseeing and implementing HR policies and practices and management of IR. He has been a member of personnel committee of Indian Bank Association.

After retirement from service, Mr. Gowda has been working with Mr. BC Prabhakar’s firm for the last 12 years. He has expertise in all areas of people management, drafting of documents relating to service matter including the settlements under the ID Act. He has dealt with all employment laws including appearance before the Courts, Tribunal and Authorities under the different Labour Laws. Mr. Gowda is one of the senior Labour Law experts at BCP Associates.

Srijatha Ghosh - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Srijata Ghosh serves as external member on the Internal Committee of several Companies across various sectors. She handles all kinds of POSH related matters including investigations and inquiries. She provides Training on Sexual Harassment across all verticals for Managers and Senior Management, General Awareness for all employees and Internal Committee members on the legislation (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013). She also formulates Policies for Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (“POSH”) and advises Companies on setting up of their Internal Committees. Srijata is involved in providing Legal Advisory services on POSH and other labour law matters for various clients.

In her previous experience, she has extensively dealt with End-to-End Contract Management, Due Diligence, POSH Compliances, Legal Advisory, etc. Srijata worked with Companies like Accenture India Private Limited, Quess Corp., Capgemini Business Services (India) Limited and Pramata Knowledge Solutions Private Limited. Srijata has handled varied legal issues including drafting, vetting and negotiation of contracts, drafting policies of various organizations. She has resolved issues relating to employment laws and has worked closely with the HR teams. She has provided legal advisory services to senior management. She was also associated with Kolkata High Court in counselling clients with legal matters such as Property, Due Diligence etc. Srijata has worked in an LPO Service Firm, Manthan Legal Services Private Limited for Legal Research, depositions, medical summaries, demand drafting etc.

Srijata completed her B.A.LL.B from M. S. Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore University in 2009. Srijata is a member of the Karnataka Bar Council since 2010. She is also a member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub Committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA).

Caroline Lobo - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Caroline Lobo has been with BCP Associates for the past 2+ years. She has been handling matters and Inquiries related to the POSH Act including conducting inquiries and trainings/awareness programmes for Senior Management, employees as well as members of the Internal Committee on the POSH Legislation (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”) to address Workplace Harassment of Women. She is a member of the Internal Committee for many varied companies and organisations and has reviewed and scrutinized numerous hearings and inquiries on matters relating to sexual harassment at workplace.

She has also handled matters relating to employer-employee related Enquiries, wherein she has reviewed and conducted hearings and enquired into the matters and has guided the Internal Committee and provided guidance in providing recommendations to the management. She is also a Member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub-committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA).

Prior to joining BCP Associates, Caroline has has a wide range of experience in corporate, commercial and contract law, mergers and acquisition and has undertaken drafting, vetting, negotiating and finalizing legal and commercial transactions. She started her career in litigation then moved onto the Corporate sector. In the span of 13 years, she has worked at Chambers of Advocate Jayashree Murali, Krishnamurthy and Co. Legal Consultants, Colt Technology Services and Oracle India Pvt. Ltd. She always had a keen interest in Women and Child related issues. She has worked with Child Welfare Committee and NGOS’s. In addition, she has worked with Swasthi Health Resource and Centre, where she was the External member to the Internal Committee (IC). She worked closely with the committee in strategizing, planning, reviewing and implementing the assigned tasks, which included building material to raise awareness against sexual harassment at workplace. Further, she has been involved in conducting inquiries into matters related to sexual harassment at workplace.

Caroline earned her Law degree from University Law College, Bangalore, from where she graduated in the year 2005.

Manoj Kumar – Senior Associate

At BCP Associates, Manoj Kumar is involved in managing and conducting labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. He is also involved in client co-ordination and conducting labour law training programs for vendors. He has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. Manoj also provides support in advising vendor clients on labour law queries. He completed B.A., LL.B. from BMS College of Law, Bangalore in 2016.

Rashmitha Venkatachalam Das - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Rashmitha Venkatachalam Das is an advocate with more than 15 years’ varied experience including both law firm and in-house roles. As an expert on BCP Associates’ POSH team, she specialises in providing a broad range of services under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”). Currently, Rashmitha is the External Member of the Internal Committee of multiple organizations across sectors and has deep expertise in handling POSH inquiries. She also supports these organisations on a regular basis with queries related to sexual harassment, including drafting and reviewing POSH policies and assisting in setting up Internal Committees.

Rashmitha is also a seasoned POSH trainer, having delivered a multitude of specialised sessions for Managers and Senior Management, Employee General Awareness sessions, and focused training for Internal Committee members. In addition to English, she is fluent in Hindi and Kannada, ensuring meaningful training sessions and effective inquiries.

Having started her career at law firm of Krishnamurthy and Co, Rashmitha moved to in-house roles with Biocon Limited, Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited and Adecco India Private Limited. 

Rashmitha holds an LL.M. in Labour and Employment Laws from University Law College, Bangalore, graduating in the year 2018 with Two Gold Medals. She is also a Rank Holder at the University. She obtained her BA, LL.B. degree from Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore University in 2009. Rashmitha is registered with the Karnataka Bar Council since 2009 and is also a member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub Committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA), an industry association of employers with over 700 members.

Manisha Vidyadhar – Senior Associate

At BCP Associates, Manisha Vidyadhar is involved in managing and conducting labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. She is also involved in client co-ordination and conducting labour law training programs for vendors. She has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. Manisha also provides support in advising vendor clients on labour law queries.  She completed B.A., LL.B. from BMS College of Law, Bangalore in 2016.

Amrutha Ananth – Principal Associate

At BCP Associates, Amrutha is a part of the Legal Advisory practice, Legal Audit practice and Labour Code Alignment Programme (LCAP). Amrutha specialises in Labour and Employment Laws and compliance having advised some of India’s leading companies for some of their most complex labour law matters.

Amrutha has more than seven years of experience in labour and employment law and has conducted several audits for both, principal employer and contractor for various leading IT/ITES companies, manufacturing sectors like pharma, automobile, construction and start-ups.

She is actively involved in drafting and reviewing employment contracts, HR policies, Employee Handbook, show cause notice, etc. for various organizations spread across diverse sectors. As a part of the Labour Code Alignment Program, she assists companies in review and alignment of their existing wage and employment policy with the provisions of the Labour Codes.

Sunil Arya – Principle Associate

At BCP Associates, Sunil Arya is part of the labour and employment law advisory and HR Policy practice and is actively involved in drafting and reviewing of employment contracts, opinions, HR policies, employee handbook, show cause notice, etc. for various clients spread across diverse sectors. He conducts training on labour and employment laws. Sunil is also involved in labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors and has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. In addition, he is engaged in knowledge creation and management of the firm and keenly writes on developments in labour and employment laws.

Prior to joining BCP Associates, Sunil has 10 years of post-qualification experience in diversified portfolios of advisory, drafting, policy analysis and dispute in the domains of contracts, general civil matters, employment law, competition law and construction arbitration matters. Sunil started his career as a Law Researcher in Delhi High Court. He moved on to be part of regulatory analysis team of CIRC, a unit of CUTS International. In addition, Sunil has been part of legal team of Jindal India Thermal Power Limited. He has also taught competition law, tax law and investment law at VIPS, Delhi.

Sunil holds LL.M. from The Indian Law Institute, Delhi. He is First Rank Holder in his thesis. He completed B.A, L.L.B. (Hons.) from I.P. University, Delhi. He also holds First Rank in P.G. Diploma in Competition Policy and Laws from The National Law University, Delhi.

Chandrakala K A – Principle Associate

At BCP Associates, Chandrakala has 12+ years of experience in conducting and managing labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. She is also involved in co-ordination with many clients. She has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. She also provides support in advising vendors on labour law queries. Chandrakala is actively involved in research and providing valuable inputs to the firm pertaining to updation in labour law audit function.

Chandrakala started her career in litigation in chamber of Sri. Ashok where she was involved in drafting, pleading and appearance before Karnataka High Courts and lower courts on the criminal side.

Chandrakala completed B.A in Arts from Kuvempu University, Shimoga in 2003 and LL.B. from Mangalore University in 2006.