Whether the management is required to grant leave to the employees / union members for their trade union activities is a common question in labour law in India. The employees achieved certain rights and liberties which were even guaranteed under the Constitution of India but such right and liberties do not mean that the employees can carry on union activities during working hours and inside the premises of the employer.
It is, however, well settled that the employees have no right to carry on any union activities on the premises of the employer. Even if such permission to carry on trade union activities in the premises was given in the past by the employer, such permission should not be considered as an inviolable right.
There is no scope to deny that trade unionism is globally recognized. It certainly stands to reason that unless trade unionism is recognized, it will not be possible for the employees to raise a united voice. However, raising a united voice during office hours is something which cannot be claimed as matter of right.
The employer may recognize a certain union as the representative body or bargaining agent on behalf of the employees either by settlement, usage or practice. If it is provided in the settlement that the employees can carry on some activities on the premises of the employer, then it gives them a right to carry on its activities on the premises of the establishment.
The term leave means leave of absence i.e. the permission obtained by an employee from his employer relieving him from the duty of attending the work. Unless the permission for leave is given or granted, the person seeking leave can absent himself from duty in an unauthorized manner. The settled position is that an employee cannot claim leave as a right but the discretion vested in the employer for refusing to grant leave has to be exercised not in an arbitrary manner. The employer is not bound to grant leave for the purpose of carrying on trade union activities by the employees. Hence, we can come to a conclusion that it is not the obligation of the management to grant leave in any form to an employee or the employee is being an office bearer solely on the ground of carrying on trade union activities.