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Asked to quit, Paytm employees cry foul

MUMBAI: “I started crying at the meeting. I told them that I was willing to work even at a lower salary and designation,” said a Paytm employee who is staring at an imminent job cut. Executives from the HR department reached out to him over a call late last month, stating that his role would be eliminated as part of an organisational restructuring and asking him to tender his resignation by early June.
Facing an uncertain future in the wake of RBI’s decision to put an end to Paytm Payments Bank and the wallet business, scores of employees are being asked to “voluntarily resign” without being given any prior notice, several have been denied severance pay and many are being asked to pay back their joining and retention bonuses to the company, several former and present employees of Paytm told TOI.
The fintech has not furnished any formal communication outlining the restructuring process and the resultant job losses to any of the impacted employees and has warned them against recording any of the HR meetings. “The calls with HRs are being labelled as ‘connect’ or ‘discussion’. There is no formal documentation of any kind,” an employee alleged.

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A review of a few of Paytm’s offer letters showed that the amount of joining and retention bonuses will be “recoverable” by the company if they “leave the employment” before 18 months of taking up the role. In some cases, the same clause applies in cases of termination “for any cause” as well.
For those whose offers letters do not include the termination clause, Paytm’s justification is that it is mentioned in their appointment letters which were provided after joining. Employees said that many of them did not receive any appointment letters either via mails or postal deliveries and those who did were never asked to sign the papers and acknowledge.
Some of the employees TOI spoke with alleged that their offer letters do not mention pay back of bonuses in case of termination.
Paytm has refuted the allegations. “We strongly deny allegations pertaining to any forced action on employees or unfair treatment. We have rigorously ensured that our HR teams have informed employees about their termination through official channels only. Further, we would also emphasise that all transitions are duly undertaken as per norms laid out in the appointment letter of these employees. To help them adjust and plan their next move, we are honouring full notice periods of these employees while also extending additional support such as outplacement, and processing of due bonuses at the time of their full and final settlements. Our focus remains on building a leaner organisation that is well-positioned to deliver long-term sustainable growth and value to our stakeholders. We remain committed to supporting our employees during this transition,” a company spokesperson said in response to queries from TOI.
A former employee whose services were recently terminated by the company because he refused to resign said Paytm did not furnish an experience letter.
While several employees voluntarily resigned over the past few months, fearing the repercussions of being served with a termination notice, a section of employees are waging a silent battle – they have refused to resign, raised concerns with Paytm’s internal employee escalation team and are seeking a “fair exit process”.
The impacted employees have also formed a social media group to deliberate and decide on the next course of action. Some of them are consulting lawyers with at least one employee having already filed a complaint with the labour ministry.
If an employee raises a complaint with Paytm’s employee escalation team, the company is supposed to investigate the matter and present a report to the employee. An affected employee with the lending team is still awaiting a report to the complaint raised.
“Just two months ago, (founder) Vijay Shekhar Sharma in a townhall had said that no one from the lending team will be laid off. I thought my job was safe,” the person said.
Some employees said that layoffs have been happening since Oct “I was abruptly laid off on Jan 5. My finances were strained and I had to take a loan to pay back my bonus of Rs 2 lakh,” alleged former staffer Prakher Srivastava.

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