ONGC to claw back FDE from Hazira-Uran staff

Vol 27, PW 12 (13 Jun 24) People & Policy

Some ONGC staff might be forced to repay Field Duty Expenses (FDE) claimed for working at the company's Hazira and Uran installations amid confusion over who is eligible.

On May 29 (2024), general manager Anuja Sinha issued an "action-taken" report, which followed a Management Committee of Directors (MCoD) meeting on February 14 (2024). At the meeting, the MCoD decided that FDE is payable to those employees posted in Round-The-Clock (RTC) shifts or any on-off duty pattern.

Also eligible are employees sent routinely to supervise field locations operating round-the-clock, such as drill site in-charges, installation managers, or field managers, in line with an August 31 (2022) directive. "However, L-2 and above (senior) officers shall not be eligible for FDE," writes Sinha.

A source says management believes it is unethical for senior officers to claim FDE. Sinha stresses that ONGC needs to develop "a proper system" to record when employees are operating in a role, even temporarily, which would make them eligible for FDE.

In February 2024, the MCoD learned that system lapses had allowed many employees to claim FDE wrongly and also to approve claims from their subordinates. "The above discrepancy had arisen due to the understanding of employees at the plants that all are eligible," explains Sinha.

"As every employee was getting an operational allowance and there was no system check (against abuse); hence, it was proposed that the employees who are working in RTC shifts only may be allowed to claim FDE, and FDE paid to other employees at Hazira and Uran Plants may be recovered." ONGC unions have called for all Hazira and Uran plant employees to be made eligible, but management strongly disagrees.

Meanwhile, the MCoD has directed employee relations chief Rajan Asthana to propose standardised working hours for shifts. Still unclear is whether this is feasible, considering that the sun rises and sets at different times in different parts of the country, forcing workers to adjust their hours to make good use of the daylight hours.