While the primary audience of the Online Legal Education initiative by iPleaders National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata has been lawyers and entrepreneurs, recently we have seen a spike in HR Managers and Industrial Relations professionals doing our online courses. So much so that we created a special page for HR managers looking for legal courses here.
In the last 3 years, we already had a few HR managers doing the MA in Business Laws course, or even the Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws course, and most of the takers of the Certificate Course in Labour Laws are in fact HR managers, but in the last 3 months there has definitely been a spike in the sheer numbers we are seeing. Is there a sudden waking up to the potential of legal knowledge in the HR manager community? When we investigated the matter, basically called up a few of the enrolled students as to what made them interested about the course in the first place, we discovered some pretty interesting insights.
There are primarily 7 reasons why most of the HR/IR professionals were interested in an online law/regulation course from NUJS. I am listing them below:
They want to learn more about the new sunrise industries and get relevant skills
In India, for a long time, the mainstay of HR/IR professionals in India was working in labour heavy factories and manufacturing companies, which employed the biggest number of employees and needed HR/IR professionals in large numbers. However, over time the focus of the industry is shifting to a completely different kind of companies. Today companies like Infosys, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Uber etc, and even BPO companies, employ much more people than the manufacturing sector. There is also a burgeoning start-up sector, which is enigma to most HR and IR professionals. These new companies are better paymasters, have much more money to spend compared to the manufacturing sector and treat their employees in a completely different way. The rules of success in this new world is different, and the smartest HR/IR professionals in India are trying to get a quick insight into this new world through courses like this. Quite a few of the HR professionals I spoke to also mentioned that they are doing courses on platforms like edX and Coursera as well, but they find Indian courses to be much more relevant and specific to Indian context.
A good example here will be that of CSR. Many HR managers are shifting to CSR, and getting a qualification from a top National Law University in CSR taught by some of the best-known names in CSR definitely helps.
They want a better understanding of employment contracts and how to enforce them
While every HR/IR professional is familiar with employment contract templates and even Standing Orders or employment policies, they don’t have expert legal knowledge of matters like non-compete agreement, non-solicitation, intellectual property protection, sweat equity and ESOP / ESPS, sexual harassment laws and such other matters.
One good example would be of attrition management. Sky high attrition is the reality in a lot of the fast-paced industries like IT industry, BPOs, software start-ups etc. Legal tools for attrition management are many, but there are many illegal practices in the industry which often backfire on the HR professionals unfairly. Also, attrition brings many risks with it for the organization – such as what if employees take valuable data and join a competitor with the same? A good example of this is a recent legal spat between Zostel and OYO Rooms – a matter which is being litigated at Delhi high court. It is now up to the HR managers to ensure that provisions like non-solicitation, which means after leaving the company the employee should not solicit the clients of the erstwhile employer for a certain period, or non-compete, under which employees may be prevented from joining a competitor, can be enforced.
Another example of changing employer-employee relationship is that now shared employment, use of consultants and deputation of employees is very common. All of these have legal implications and usually HR/IR professionals are asked to take care of all legal and regulatory requirements regarding this. This is where some extra credentials regarding law and regulations go an extra mile.
The nature of employee incentives is changing and they want to learn about best practices
Which company used to give away its highly valuable stock to all levels of employees earlier? In this age, however, giving stock options has come into fashion, and has become a very essential incentive to retain best employees in the long run. The pioneer in this area was Infosys, which gave away ESOPS which were later on valued at millions of dollars – and made its top 100 employees millionaires. However, even the other employees made fairly good money, and it was an important lesson for many Indian employees that stock options can be a valuable asset that one must not ignore. After that, many companies, big MNCs included but especially start-ups have started to go down the road of giving large chunks of stock options to all employees. However, there is a big challenge – there are few people who understand or can administer stock option schemes. For this reason, employers often have to hire outside experts and pay them a lot of money to draw up an effective stock option plan. What if there could be in-house expertise on structuring ESOPS and ESPS? Smart HR professionals have recognized the opportunity and are acquiring the skills needed to administer and even structure ESOP schemes.
Another interesting area is planning of sweat equity, which is completely different from stock options but is becoming increasingly common as an employee incentive tool, especially for the top echelon like CEO/CXO and important directors. HR managers are rewarded when they are able to handle such things.
Better understanding of legal regulation of employment and labour makes them stand out
Employers always appreciated when HR/IR professionals had an additional law degree, it worked like the icing on the cake, making such professionals more valuable and reliable for the employer. Many HR and IR professionals pursue LLB courses for this reason till date. However, there is a problem with LLB courses in India – it is that one learns precisely little from this course because of an extremely dogmatic and theoretical curriculum. Most HR/IR professionals cannot connect the legal lessons learnt from LLB course to actual real life scenarios they face at work at all although it takes years of studies to get a legal degree.
The NUJS Diploma program is a one year program comprehensively covering Employment and Labour laws (see Module VII in the syllabus) in a way that addresses issues that HR and IR professionals face at work on an everyday basis. For example, what would be the difference in the kind of employment agreement one should enter into with the CEO, white collar executives and blue collar labourers? What clauses would be substantially different? The course is also a good opportunity to refresh one’s knowledge about labour law compliances, and it also supplies relevant checklists one can actually use at work, which is an added advantage.
HR/IR Professionals eventually want to become directors and sit on boards of companies
What is the ultimate career ambition of most HR/IR professionals? They do not want to remain in the same profile for the entire duration of their career managing employees for others. They want to climb the corporate ladder and see themselves in ultimate decision-making positions, driving key business decisions, and for that they need to become a member of the board of directors or a CXO. Many former HR professionals, later on occupy COO, CIO and even CEO positions. However, they need to acquire a special skill set if they are ambitious to get into the board or top management. One such obvious skill is good grasp of corporate governance, which corporate employees often learn by observation to an extent. However, structured learning about both compliance and management strategy aspects of corporate governance does not harm either!
Amongst these special skills expected from executives in top management are also the abilities to raise money for the company, in form of debt or equity, negotiate key business contracts, land cushy government contracts, structure a business vertical, and even identify key business and legal risks.
They want to enhance their professional profile and resume
It never hurts to get a full-fledged recognized business law diploma from one of India’s top National Law Universities. How important an institution is NUJS Kolkata? Here is something to illustrate that: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India is ex-officio Chancellor of only two Universities in India. One is NLS Bangalore, and the other is NUJS Kolkata. If you are looking to add an important qualification that you can add to your resume, then this is as prestigious as it gets. By doing this one-year online course, which usually takes 3-4 hours of time every week, you can add a very prestigious, industry-recognized diploma to your resume.
Most HR/IR professionals secretly want to start their own company
Additionally, many HR professionals want to start independent consultancies, even HR services companies. This is natural, as demand for HR services is at a historical peak as start-ups are coming at a very fast speed, and MNCs are investing billions of dollars in India. The requirement for services like talent acquisition, workplace harassment consultancy, contract labour, payroll management, labour law compliance management, outbound training and such other services is at an all-time high. This demand is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the future keeping pace with rest of the economy. Enterprising HR/IR professionals are seeing great opportunity in this boom and are becoming entrepreneurs themselves! Some of them also just want flexible work options so that they can find more time for themselves or their family and consultancy is most suitable for this. These people also see the NUJS Diploma course as a unique opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, that would serve them in a big way in their journey to establish independent consultancies.
Are you an HR/IR professional? If you are interested in the NUJS diploma course, simply call Ramanuj at 8377972123 and have a chat about how online legal courses can help in your career specifically. He can also connect you with other HR/IR professionals who have already done this course so that you can check with them how these courses really helped them!