HDB Financial Services, a non-banking financial arm of HDFC Group, has laid off nearly 150 employees after a performance review, a company official said, rejecting allegations by sacked workers that they were asked to leave due to the economic situation caused by the COVID-19-related lockdown. The company official said the exercise is part of its regular annual performance review as also there were some ethical issues involved with the employees who have been laid off.
A section of sacked employees have vented their anger on a social media platform alleging that they were asked to resign from HDB Financial Services without any notice and were not given any reason for the same. They alleged on Twitter that the company asked them to resign with immediate effect or face termination. Many of the fired employees posted that they were asked to leave at a time when there was no scope to find a new job.
Parent firm HDFC Bank said laying off of the said employees has nothing to do with the current economic situation, and it contributes to the economy by generating jobs every year. When contacted, the private bank said those resorting to Twitter were a set of disgruntled employees. They were being watched for their performances and were intimated well in advance about the same.
“What we are seeing is an attempt by a handful of disgruntled employees to take advantage of the current situation. This involves a minuscule number of employees out of the total 1 lakh plus and has nothing to do with the ongoing lockdown or the resulting economic situation,” HDFC Bank said in a statement. It said the headcount at HDBFS increased by 15,794 from 93,373 as on March 31, 2019, to 1,09,167 by March 31, 2020.
“We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we as a group take pride in being a responsible employer and will do nothing to let that pride diminish. It’s pertinent to add here that employee count,” HDFC Bank added.
Several of the employees who were contacted by PTI claimed that they received calls from their senior management as well as the HR, informing that their services were no longer needed and that they must put in their papers with immediate effect or face termination. “I have been working from home since the lockdown and have been punching in my attendance online regularly, however, the HR has not recognised the same. I will not resign from my job… I have asked the company to send me a termination letter, citing the reason, if they wish to do so,” said an employee posted at Delhi circle.
Some sacked employees even claimed on Twitter that as many as 5,000-6,000 people have been axed amidst the lockdown. Another person in a mail to his seniors alleged that the company has targeted only junior-level employees who earn up to Rs 20,000 a month and are being harassed to resign.
The sacked employees have tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the microblogging site, seeking immediate intervention as the government has already asked employers not to take jobs from people during the lockdown period. “HDB Financial Services has started taking resignation forcefully from employees without any prior notice and any fault and I am also one of them who gave resignation on May 5, 2020,” read an employee’s tweet.
Notably, the economic activity and hence the growth have come to a halt across the globe as the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay indoors to the extent possible. People from across the country have come up on Twitter, expressing dismay over the sudden job loss. “It is a regular exercise as part of the annual performance review. The employees were paid fully until the last two months of March and April. They will be paid accordingly as full and final settlement also,” said an HDFC Bank official.
HDFC Bank held 95.53 per cent shares in HDB Financial Services as on March 31, 2019, according to the annual report of HDB Financial Services. The company offers secured and unsecured loans in consumer, vehicle, asset finance, enterprise business categories, among others. It also earns fee-based income and is engaged in selling of insurance products as well.
HDB Financial Services had logged a profit of Rs 1,153 crore in 2018-19 against Rs 933 crore in the year-ago period. Total revenues were Rs 8,725 crore against Rs 7,027 crore in 2017-18. The company’s assets under management stood at Rs 55,425.16 crore as on March 31, 2019, as per the annual report.