Indiabulls Housing Finance sacked more than 2,000 employees in the last two weeks. ETBFSI learnt that company fired them over WhatsApp calls seeking resignations. The company also threatened them to terminate them if they do not resign.Those that the company did sack were asked to take a 5-50% pay cut. Since then, those fired and otherwise have been sharing their horror stories on Twitter. ETBFSI have spoken to a few of the employees. Indiabulls Housing Finance is the second-largest housing finance company that serves one million of customers.
As many as 2,000 employees of Indiabulls Housing Finance received ominous calls on WhatsApp. They were no mere calls that fired them either. In fact, a few employees report that the management forced them to resign before a May 31 deadline or be fired.
The end-to-end encryption cushion that WhatsApp offers, has allowed the management to avoid any possible recording of their calls, a few disgruntled employees report. These calls ranged from direct terminations to dropping ‘hints’ asking them to look for another job. But most employees feel that their jobs would be lost as the NBFC’s salary cycle is around 18th to 19th of every month.
ETBFSI spoke to a few employees to bring the real story behind the terminations.
Case – 1: You still have time, a manager was told
A manager based in a city in Maharashtra, on condition of anonymity, said that the decision had come as a shock as it was communicated through a Whatsapp call, ironically in the midst of a training programme initiated by the HR department of the company via teleconferencing.
The manager, who has been with the company for more than 4.5 years, was not directly asked to resign, and was rather hinted with statements such as “business is low”, “we are closing down branches” and “we have asked many employees to go”, ending with “you have time till 31st May to check”.
He was however told that employees, who did not resign by May 31, would be terminated, whilst also being warned by executives of the company that this could severely hamper their career. The employee however added that he would not resign until he received official communication on the matter, and has since blocked off the team of executives off Whatsapp.
Case – 2 : Assistant Manager asked to give ‘consent note’ to cut salary
An assistant manager at Indiabulls Housing Finance narrated a similar experience, after receiving a call by a Senior Manager who was looped with her reporting manager and an HR executive, asking her to resign. She said “This process was started on Thursday, May 14, after which employees received calls over the weekend since asking them to resign within 15 days.”
The employee, who has been working with the NBFC for the past 2.5 years, told ETBFSI that the company was pressurizing her to add a consent note along with her resignation to deduct a certain amount, ranging from 5% to 50%, of her salary on account of COVID-19.
The employee also told ETBFSI that pleas for a longer notice period of a month or more were ignored, and that the managers resorted to disconnecting the call rather than answer further transition queries. She was further owed 5% of her salary, as the NBFC had earlier asked all employees to transfer a part of their pay to the NBFCs e-wallet “Dhani” for unknown reasons.
Case – 3 : Fired after an April paycuts assured ‘job safety’
Similar experiences were narrated to ETBFSI by a senior officer of the NBFC from North India, who also received a call from his reporting manager and his superior, asking him to resign on the same day. The employee said, on the condition of anonymity, that he was not offered a notice period as well, and that mails to management seeking further clarity went unanswered.
“Even the HR Manager is not co-operating with us,” said the employee, who is also yet to officially resign from the NBFC as he awaits clarity on the matter.
Before the layoffs, in April, the employees received a paycut of varying amounts, which was reportedly implemented by the company in order to “safeguard jobs” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees also allege that the company did not follow any criteria as to lay off employees, citing instances of employees having worked for more than a decade also receiving similar directions to resign, which apparently also includes the first employee of the NBFC in Maharashtra.
Laid-off employees of the NBFC also raised the issue on twitter, tagging the government and their officials in pleas to intervene in the matter.
‘Ensure that customers do not use the moratorium option’
Apart from paycuts, the employees have also been under immense pressure after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced the three month EMI moratorium relief. The shadow bank seems to have asked their employees to ensure that their customers do not opt for the relief.
“Indiabulls did not want to extend the benefit of the RBI moratorium relief to the customer as cashflows would be hit, so we had to make calls to customers saying that the benefit was not beneficial to the customers and that they had to pay their installments as soon as possible,” said an employee on the basis of anonymity. In fact, they had to offer a scheme that involves waiver of two EMIs if they took back their request of a moratorium, employees told ETBFSI.
Indiabulls Housing Finance Response
ETBFSI wrote to India Bulls Housing Finance to seek clarification on all that we heard from the employees. “The Indiabulls Group employs more than 26,000 people. In FY19-20 itself, we added 7000+ new members. The company typically sees an attrition of 10%-15% of its workforce every 12 months. This is based on performances and the trend of the entire year, not just a couple of months. There are no layoffs other than in the normal course of business due to attrition and as per the trend of the last many months,” said an Indiabulls Housing Finance spokesperson