Even as the Japanese investor Softbank of Snapdeal is yet to conclude its potential stake sale to its rival Flipkart, the employees at the Gurgaon-based e-commerce firm continue to be worried. A merger with bigger rival Flipkart is expected to consolidate operations and existing positions could be phased out over time as part of the deal. “Many of our colleagues lost their jobs during the retrenchment exercise. We were given to understand that it was over. However with these reports of sale talks, we aren’t sure about the future of our jobs,” said one of the employees. It had been earlier reported that Snapdeal has let go off over half of its 4,300 staff strength as it talked about targeting profitability. The consolidation will also impact the top management as both companies will look to merge administrative positions, as in the case of the previous merger with Jabong which saw exits at the top. In order to soothe anxious employees, the founders of the company had conducted multiple townhalls, last month. The deal which is being steered by the investors of the company has also been witnessing boardroom battles. It started off with differences between Softbank and early investors Nexus Venture Partners and Kalaari Capital. Later, it turned out that Softbank had agreed to buy the stakes of the two funds. However, negotiations are still on. For the deal to finally go through, consent of at least two major shareholders of Jasper Infotech, the parent firm of Snapdeal, is required. Citing the shareholder agreements, the report said that three stakeholders out of the four major stakeholders that include Softbank, Kalaari, Nexus and promoters Mr. Kunal Bahl and Mr. Rohit Bansal, need to give consent for the company’s merger with Flipkart.
Razorpay, an online payments platform announced the appointment of Mr. Amit Saini as its new vice-president (engineering) to oversee the growing technology function, as the company looks to scale its footprint in the digital payments space. Mr. Saini was earlier the director of engineering at Ola. With over 15 years of experience in product development, building and leading high performance engineering teams, he specialises in solving several big data use cases and delivering many end-to-end products. His appointment is intended to further the growth and product development of Razorpay’s technology leadership in the industry, the company said. “Technology has been our key differentiator since inception. With Amit joining us, we are instituting executives with vast experience in technology and strengthening our leadership team. He will help us tackle the ever-increasing challenges of a diverse merchant ecosystem in a dynamic financial market like India”, Mr. Harshil Mathur, CEO & co-founder of Razorpay said. Previously, Mr. Saini worked at Ola Cabs, where he led a team of 40 members to build Ola Money. He has also worked as a technologist with Microsoft and IBM, building software products in the areas of e-commerce, web services management, big-data & analytics. He also co-founded, SkillCafe, a start-up that focused on analysing huge data sets in order to provide insightful career growth recommendations to candidates.
IT industry body Nasscom appointed Quatrro CMD Mr. Raman Roy its chairman for 2017-18. It has also named Mr. Rishad Premji, Wipro chief strategy officer and son of technology czar Mr. Azim Premji, as the vice chairman. Mr. Roy, who served as the vice chairman in the previous fiscal, will take on the new role from 6 April. He takes over the mantle from Mr. C P Gurnani, managing director and CEO of Tech Mahindra. “Nasscom is playing a critical role in evangelising the digital opportunity for the sector and I would like to support the industry in facilitating the skilling and reskilling effort of the industry through disruptive models,” Mr. Roy said. He added that building India’s innovation edge is another key priority and the industry body plans to scale up start-ups and centre of excellence initiatives to the next level. The announcement comes at a time when the over $140 billion Indian IT industry faces a number of headwinds like growing protectionism from various countries and business shifts towards digital. Mr. R Chandrashekhar, president of Nasscom, said: “A new-age leader like Rishad, with his vast exposure, will bring fresh ideas to the table, helping the industry tap new domains and opportunities globally.” Mr. Roy, along with Mr. Premji and Mr. Chandrashekhar, will lead Nasscom to carry out its diverse array of priorities. The leadership team will also work towards further strengthening various sector councils and focus on enhanced member outreach and involvement.
India’s largest consumer goods company is planning to hand out pink slips in a bid to reduce costs. The Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is mulling over cutting jobs by 10-15% as its Dutch parent wants to reduce costs across markets. However, the exact number will be known by the end of April only. In India, HUL employs around 18,000 people across factories and offices. Unilever said job cuts come after they want to focus on increasing its margin targets. Global CEO Mr. Paul Polman committed to the board his strategy to cut costs sharply to protect profitability as it aims to prove that it can deliver growth following its rejection of a takeover attempt by rival Kraft Heinz for 115 billion pounds in February. “Unilever is conducting a comprehensive review of options available to accelerate delivery of value for the benefit of their shareholders. The results of the review are expected later this month,” said an HUL spokesperson. HUL has a five-level management structure, with the CEO at the top. Level four consists of vice presidents, while general managers are at level three. Assistant managers and junior managers or frontline executives make up the remaining two levels. “With GST implementation, there will be reduction in warehouses and supporting infrastructure, resulting in some job losses. But India is still one of the better-performing markets for Unilever and the restructuring will not be as severe as in other markets,” Mr. Abneesh Roy, senior vice president at Edelweiss Financial Services said.
-commerce giant Amazon said it has set up seven new warehouses (Fulfilment Centres or FCs) to cater exclusively to its large appliances and furniture category, a move that will create 1,200 new jobs. The company, which has committed an investment of $5 billion in the Indian market, will also set up 33 delivery stations to meet the demand it is witnessing in the said category. Amazon.in has 27 such warehouses across the country. With the addition of the new FCs, Amazon.in will have 34 FCs across 10 states. “We have set up a dedicated infrastructure of nine FCs and 33 exclusive delivery stations that will ensure faster and reliable delivery of large appliances and furniture to more than 150 cities,” Amazon India vice president, India Customer Fulfilment, Mr. Akhil Saxena said. He added that while seven new FCs have been set up for the category, two of its existing centres in Mumbai and Gurgaon will now serve the category exclusively. Mr. Saxena, however, declined to disclose investment details. FCs are warehouses where sellers can stock their inventory. They can save money by replacing their upfront capital expense with low variable cost and pay only for the storage space they use and the orders Amazon fulfils. The new warehouses will enable Amazon India to make fast deliveries as it faces tough competition from online shopping giants like Flipkart and Snapdeal as well as other smaller players.
Telecom major Bharti Airtel has terminated the services of its Vice-President and Head of Alliances Mr. Pallab Mitra for alleged violation of code of conduct. “All employees are hereby advised that the company has terminated the services of Mr. Pallab Mitra, Vice-President and Head-Alliance, with immediate effect for violation of the company’s code of conduct,” Airtel Chief Human Resource Officer Mr. B Srikanth said in a communication to employees. Mr. Mitra could not be reached for his comments. Airtel spokesperson said: “The Company’s code of conduct is of paramount importance and it follows a policy of zero tolerance in the event of any violation of the same.” Mr. Mitra has worked with Airtel for about 12 years with a gap of around five and half years in between. He started working with Airtel in 2001 as head of commerce for about 4 years. Mr. Mitra left the company in February 2010 to join Tata Teleservices. His second innings at Airtel started from September 2015 onwards after his one-and-half year stint with wi-fi firm Ozone Networks. Airtel learnt about the purported code of conduct violation by Mr. Mitra from a whistleblower after which it conducted a probe into the matter, the communication said.
Healthcare startup Practo has laid off 150 employees after its annual appraisal process. A statement by the company said the development was part of the annual performance cycle during which some of their staffers inevitably leave. The employees will be given two months’ salary along with the choice to stay on the firm’s rolls during the period or an outstation placement, the English daily reported. “150 of our colleagues are leaving us. This is a combination of performance and natural redundancies that emerge as we evolve our businesses and integrate our five acquisitions. We continue to rapidly grow our consumer and enterprise businesses and will continue to hire talent across the board,” a company spokesperson said. The startup had around 2,000 employees and had secured funding of Rs 375 crore in funding led by Chinese internet company Tencent in January. Officials said that the company may be revamping its business model. “There are 153 million internet users in India, but the number of searches for doctors and hospitals in the top 50 cities in India in 2016 is estimated at 6 million, or about 4% of total internet users. People choose doctors based on references and moving them to online searches is tough,” the report said. In addition to providing online data on doctors, the firm also provides software to medical institutions including clinics, diagnostic centres and hospitals, which accounts for a significant portion of its revenues. Its major hospital clients include Manipal Hospitals, Max Healthcare, Narayana Hrudayalaya and Sparsh.
After losing their prospects of working in the US, Indian software professionals — at least 30,000 of them — will be impacted by the UK government’s move to impose restrictions on work visas, including discontinuing the short-term visa category. The short-term visa was primarily being used by Indian IT services companies to send young engineers to work on projects in the UK. These work visas, termed as Tier 2 under the sub-category of short-term staff, will not be issued. According to Nasscom, there are about 30,000 Indians working in the UK under the Tier 2 short-term visa category. Once the existing visa expires, it will not get renewed. While other work visas will continue to be available for application, the minimum wage requirement has been increased by 69 per cent to £41,500. This will impact younger engineers as companies won’t be able to hand out such huge hikes, especially at a time when margins are shrinking for most IT services firms. “High-skilled worker mobility should be de-linked from immigration because it is different from unskilled labour. We at Nasscom voiced concerns to the British government as well as the Indian government, but the UK decided to go ahead with its plans,” Mr. Shivendra Singh, Vice-President and Head, Global Trade Development at Nasscom said . “Our companies are investing billions of pounds to skill locals and have been extensively hiring there as well,” he added. IT companies had been anticipating the move as it was initially brought into the House of Commons last November as part of proposed changes in immigration rules. UK Prime Minister Ms. Theresa May might visited India a week later but the two countries were unable to reach a consensus on the issue. The move will have a significant impact on the prospects of junior employees with up to seven years’ experience getting a transfer to the UK as the salary threshold has been increased to £41,500.
Air India has engaged 247 retired employees as consultants since there has been no induction of “non-operating manpower” for more than 15 years at the national carrier, the government said. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mr. Jayant Sinha said these consultants have been engaged for 1-2 years in order to meet the immediate requirement of trained or experienced manpower in respective departments to ensure smooth functions. “At present, 247 superannuated employees of Air India have been engaged as consultants as there has been no induction of non-operating manpower in Air India for more than last 15 years,” Mr. Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Furthermore, the minister said there is acute shortage of manpower at Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL). To address manpower shortage, AIESL is re-appointing retired personnel and also doing fresh recruitment. Mr. Sinha said that till date, AIESL has appointed 209 retired staffers. “The gestation period for fresh recruits is 3-4 years to become full-fledged aircraft maintenance engineer under DGCA CAR 145. Hence, it has been decided to take the retired personnel who are already licensed by DGCA to mitigate the immediate shortage,” he noted.
The term open talent includes different forms of part-time employment including workers hired as retainers, a fixed-term contract or a project-based contract, or those who are paid by the hour. As the nature of work and workforce is changing, workplaces too are experimenting with hiring options, an expert said. “As availability of skilled talent gets increasingly difficult, organizations will have to accept the open talent network, especially for high-skilled jobs, said Mr. S.V. Nathan, chief talent officer at Deloitte in India. “Millennials are looking beyond permanent jobs. They are looking at interesting work, perhaps working part-time in multiple places in different work environments, in different roles. ”According to HR outsourcing and technology firm PeopleStrong, 18-20% of the corporate workforce would work on project-based jobs in the next 12-18 months. In the new world of work, the colour of collars—white or blue—would cease to exist. The jobs need not be differentiated based on the time period or schedule of work, said Mr. Pankaj Bansal, co-founder and chief executive of PeopleStrong. “Rather, they would be identified based on the work content. We will have lot of content experts, digital marketing experts, coders or Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts, who would have the capability to work across sectors,” he added
The Union government is likely to walk a middle path and increase the wage threshold from Rs15,000 to Rs21,000 for mandatory provident fund coverage instead of the Rs25,000 proposed by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), said at least two government officials. The Rs 21, 000 cap will help bring in over six million more employees under the social security net without putting a strain on the government exchequer. While EPFO plans to increase the wage threshold to Rs25, 000, considering the financial implications for the Central government, the labour ministry is almost ready to moderate the hike in the wage threshold to Rs21, 000, said the two government officials. Once it’s formally passed by the central board of the EPFO, organized sector employees drawing a monthly salary up to Rs21, 000 will come under the mandatory coverage of the EPFO which provides PF, pension and insurance to its subscribers. Right now, all workers drawing a monthly salary up to Rs15, 000 are covered mandatorily under EPF and the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) social security benefits. Employees earning above this threshold join EPFO voluntarily. Every month, salaried workers contribute 12% of their salary to EPF and the employer matches the sum. From what the employer contributes, 8.33% goes into EPS, which offers pension for life post retirement. The government contributes 1.16% to the pension kitty of every PF member whose salary is under the wage threshold. When the initial plan to hike the EPF wage ceiling was mooted last year, post the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the Central government “sought clarifications” on how much will the increase in wage ceiling impact the government exchequer and whether this will “entail additional contribution” by employers as they pay 3.67% of the basic wage for EPS, as per labour ministry documents.
Leading IT services companies and BPOs have initiated steps to implement policies compliant with the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill. This follows the President giving his nod for the legislation which provides 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for women employees. India’s fifth-largest IT exporter Tech Mahindra said it would revise its existing policy on maternity leave. “Yes, we will be implementing this policy,” said Ms. Sucharita Palepu, Global Head — People Practices, Tech Mahindra. “We already had an extended maternity policy where women could opt for longer leave up to one year. Hence, we don’t see the need for any specific planning, since several of our associates opted for it earlier,” she said. Many IT companies had already been providing maternity leave of 9 months which typically comprised 3 months’ paid leave and 6 months’ extended leave without pay. However, with the new bill becoming a law, most players have revised their maternity leave policy with 26 weeks’ paid leave and 3 months’ leave without pay. India’s third-largest IT exporter Wipro has revised its leave policy with effect from March 28. Women employees are now eligible for 26 weeks of maternity leave. It also extended the benefit to employees who had been on maternity leave till March 28. Apart from providing paid leave for young mothers and mothers-to-be, IT companies are also reaching out to women employees to keep them engaged with the company. Mindtree, which introduced 6 months’ paid maternity leave in September, unveiled ‘Mi Lady,’an application to engage with women who are on maternity leave. Through the app, employees on maternity leave can upgrade their skills before they re-join. “We believe that providing long maternity leave itself was not enough for any working woman,” said Mr. Chitra Byregowda – Head of Diversity and Sustainability at Mindtree. “Our aim is to support her before delivery, post-delivery and then, also at the time of returning to work. Through the app, our employee can access e-learning modules to upgrade her skillsets.”
Ms. Madhabi Puri Buch took charge as whole time member at the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in Mumbai for a tenure of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier. Ms. Buch will handle market regulation department, market intermediaries’ regulation and supervision department, integrated surveillance department, department of economic and policy analysis, office of investor assistance and education, National Institute of Securities Markets and information technology department. Prior to joining SEBI, she served as consultant to the New Development Bank in Shanghai, China. She also served as the Head of the Singapore office of the private equity firm, Greater Pacific Capital. She was also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at ICICI Securities Limited and as Executive Director, on the Board of ICICI Bank. Ms. Buch also served as a non-executive director on the Boards of various companies.
Infosys has defended the pay hike extended to its Chief Operating Officer Mr. Pravin Rao, saying the stock-linked compensation to its senior management, including Mr. Rao, was needed to retain talent as the company underwent a transformation. His compensation revision reflects the philosophy of aligning the interests of our leadership team to long-term shareholder interests, Infosys said in a statement, as it deflected criticism by its founder Mr. N R Narayana Murthy over the pay hike. Mr. Murthy, who as part of the promoter group shareholders abstained from voting in a resolution to increase the pay to Mr. Rao, had criticised the board of poor governance, and also questioned the conscience of the three-decade veteran at Infosys in accepting the hike. “Pravin’s commitment and contribution to the company has been immense, and his partnership over the past three years has been critical to the successes and growth of our company,” said Mr. Vishal Sikka, chief executive officer at Infosys. “It is essential for us to see that this revision in his compensation, as with several of our senior leadership team, is focused on making Infosys more competitive, is benchmarked against peers, is critical for us to retain key talent and aligns the long-term interests of our leadership team with that of our shareholders.” The defence by Infosys after two-thirds of its shareholders supported the pay hike to Mr. Rao, also indicates that the company would take Mr. Murthy head on than dilute its stand.
E-commerce major Wydr announced hiring of Phone Warrior Inc’s Former Tech CEO Mr. Chandan Gupta as VP, Engineering, as the company is all set to further enrich its tech wing. Mr. Chandan will be working at Wydr’s Gurugram corporate office. Earlier this week, Wydr had also confirmed the news of hiring Pepperfry’s Mr. Alok Varman as Vice President, Operations. Now that they have hired Mr. Gupta, it is evident that they are adding dimensions to Wydr Wholesale App’s business and technical strengths. Mr. Gupta bootstrapped Phone Warrior Inc., a social mobile app company, from ground zero to 6.5 million app installs globally, as the tech CEO. Phone Warrior had raised seed from Lightspeed Venture partners in Dec 2013 and was acquired by Snapdeal in Oct 2015. After the acquisition Mr. Chandan Gupta was working as Senior Director of Technology with Snapdeal for around one and a half years before joining Wydr. His e-commerce expertise and experience at Phone Warrior and Snapdeal will help us accelerate our tech goals. We look forward to his contribution in our journey of continuous innovation, said CEO Wydr, Mr. Devesh Rai. His leadership quality and innovative mindset will be extremely valuable for Wydr as we take shape as India’s most prominent B2B wholesale e-commerce, added Mr. Rai.