By Kavitha Kesavan (Content Management Analyst)
Ride-hailing and payments firm Grab announced that it laid off about 360 employees, or 5% of its workforce, to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. In a note to employees, CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan said that this is Grab's "last organisation-wide layoff" for 2020. COVID-19 was quoted as the “single biggest crisis to affect Grab”. Over the past few months, Grab has reviewed all costs, cut back on discretionary spending and reduced the salaries for senior management.
CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan sent out a note to employees in the morning of the day of the announcement to explain the reasons for the decision and apologised to staff. Employees were requested to be patient as leaders worked to facilitate the retrenchment exercise with a high degree of sensitivity and with utmost respect for privacy and encouraged employees to support each other. Anthony said employees can contact him directly via email if they had any questions or simply needed a listening ear, and he is glad to receive their feedback and will do his best to provide answers.
The fact that employees were told that they will receive an e-mail by 1pm on the day of the announcement is not a something to be encouraged as watching their inboxes to see if they will receive that e-mail is definitely not easy and causes anxiety. Informing affected employees about retrenchments via e-mail was regarded as insensitive. Employees were informed that they would be able to speak to their Business Managers and HR representatives personally in the days after the announcement.
However, the company offered the following commendable benefits to the affected staff:
- Severance payment of half a month for every six months of completed service.
- Enhanced separation payment, worth about 1.5 months of salary, for assistance during the COVID-19 crisis and bonus for work done for 2020.
- Medical insurance coverage until the end of 2020.
- Maternity and paternity leave encashment for expecting mothers and male staff whose wife is expecting is eligible for the benefit as of the last date of employment.
- Option to keep their laptops to support job search of employees.
- Access to sessions with a life coach and half a year’s worth of online career development tools which allows employees to continue growing in their personal and professional lives.
- Emotional support via the Grabber Assistance Program, for 3 months.
- Annual cliffs waiver for equity vesting, which allows staff to leave as shareholders
- Encashment of unused accrued annual leave and unused GrabFlex credits under staffs’ Flexible Spending Account.
Retrenching staff should be the final option. However, if it still needs to be done, the process should be conducted with empathy, care and respect which includes sensitive communication and fair severance packages.