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Amazon gets notice from the Indian Labour Ministry regarding layoffs in India

The Union Labour Ministry has notified IT and e-commerce giant Amazon about the recent layoffs in India.

The company has been summoned by A Anjanappa, the deputy chief labour commissioner, to question the voluntary separation programme (VSP). Smitha Sharma, the public policy manager for Amazon, has been asked to a hearing on November 23.

Amazon’s Indian branch began sending out VSP to its employees, inviting them to voluntarily resign, after the company stated that it will fire 10,000 employees globally.

The VSP document shared by the company stated: “This communication is to inform you that Amazon is implementing a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) which is temporarily available to eligible employees within Amazon’s AET organization. Pursuant to the VSP eligible employees will have the opportunity to resign voluntarily from employment in exchange for the VSP benefits described below. Application Forms to participate in the VSP must be submitted via smart forms between November 16, 2022, and no later than 6:30 am India Standard Time on November 30, 2022 (Election Period).”

Some of the benefits provided to employees under VSP were: “A lump sum severance payment, less legally required payroll deductions, equivalent to 22 weeks Base Pay; plus one-week base salary for every six months of service (rounded to the nearest 6 months) up to a maximum benefit of twenty weeks paid severance; plus medical insurance coverage for 6 months as per Insurance Benefit policy or equivalent insurance premium amount in lieu; plus o Notice Period or Pay in lieu as per employment contract terms.”

Employee associations have been frowning upon this. NITES President Harpreet Singh Saluja noted, “Amazon employees who have served for at least a year of continuous service cannot be laid-off unless served a notice three months in advance and prior permission from the appropriate government. The company needs to submit an application to the authorities along with the reasons for such layoffs. Then the appropriate government authorities will decide whether the layoffs can be permitted or not after hearing both the parties.”

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