BYJU’S employees meet Kerala Minister as edtech startup winds down operations in state
The startup is allegedly forcing 170 employees to resign as it looks to close down its Thiruvananthapuram office.
A group of employees from edtech decacornmet with V Sivankutty, Kerala’s Minister for General Education and Labour, on Tuesday to complain about the startup forcing its 170 employees to resign.
BYJU'S, which operates at the Carnival building in Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram is planning to stop its operations in the city without any prior notice to employees, a LinkedIn post by Technopark said.
"The HR department is contacting employees individually, and telling them to tender their resignation before October 25. So, the employees are not getting any official emails or anything but HR is contacting the employees through Whatsapp, and forcing them to resign,” Vineeth Chandran, Secretary, Prathidhwani, a welfare organisation for techies, tells YourStory.
“They are saying that only after the resignation, their [workers'] October salary will be processed otherwise they will be moved to a termination process,” he adds.
Prathidhwani reached out to the Minister for General Education and Labour requesting him to intervene, so that the employees can get a “dignified settlement with the organisation and a revised Exit policy”.
The employees have asked BYJU’S for payment of the salary for October 2022 on the 1st of November 2022. Additionally, they have asked the edtech giant for a one-time settlement of salary for the upcoming three months.
They also want encashment of all earned leaves, and a full settlement of variable pay as applicable to each employee.
The Labour Department will conduct a serious inspection in this matter, Minister V Sivankutty said in a Facebook post.
“In this ongoing organisational restructuring for profitable growth, BYJU'S is making every attempt to offer relevant relocation opportunities to the affected employees. In this regard, while we are discontinuing a part of our Trivandrum operations to reduce redundancy, we are also offering the entire Trivandrum team an opportunity to relocate to Bengaluru. We have provided them more than a month's time to decide on this matter,” a BYJU’s spokesperson told YourStory.
“If they choose to not use this opportunity, we have made available a generous and progressive exit package to all employees impacted by the restructuring, including extended health insurance benefits, outplacement services and garden leave,” the spokesperson added.
BYJU’S also said that it gives an assured opportunity to the employee to be rehired by BYJU'S within the next 12 months at any operational centre across India.
The welfare organisation, and the employees who filed the complaint received a call from the District Labour Officer who sent a notice for a meeting on Monday, October 24.
The meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday, October 25 had no attendees from BYJU’S, Vineeth tells YourStory. The startup informed the officer that it is not available owing to the holidays.
The meeting has been rescheduled to October 31, he added.
“Yesterday evening some of the employees received emails saying that your options are open, and we are willing to take you to the Bangalore office. This is the first official communication from them. They are telling that those who are not willing to come to the Bangalore office will receive a decent exit package,” says Vineeth. He also added that he is uncertain whether all the employees have received such emails.
Earlier this month, BYJU’S had said it will be laying off 2500 employees, which makes for about 5% of its workforce, across product, content, media, and technology teams in a cost-cutting initiative as the company’s losses widen. It is unclear whether the 170 employees laid off from the Thiruvananthapuram office are a part of this announcement.
BYJU’S, which was last valued at $22 billion, reported widened losses of Rs 4,564.38 crore in FY21, 14X more than the loss reported in FY20 which stood at Rs 305.5 crore.
The startup also raised $250 million in a fresh funding round from its existing investors, including Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) this month.
(The article was updated to fix a typo.)
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti