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One97 Communications (OCL), the company that operates the Paytm brand, is asking its employees to resign citing restructuring at the organisational level, people in the know said.

While the exact number of employees impacted could not be ascertained, sources in the know said that in some departments the impact is almost 50 per cent of the headcount. Some of the business units that have been impacted include the telco unit, marketing, the Paytm Payments Bank, and others.

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Last week, the company terminated the services of those employees who had refused to resign.

Paytm said the company is undergoing a routine appraisal process involving performance assessments which may lead to ‘role adjustments’.

What has surprised many of the affected employees is that even those who have topped the assessment scores earlier have also been asked to go.

“This is a layoff under the cloak of voluntary resignation and is happening across multiple teams under OCL. If the company is looking to weed out employees with low performance, why have they asked me to resign? I have been rated amongst the best in my team just a few months back,” an employee said.

Business Standard has reviewed the employee’s last performance management report along with the termination notice.

Employees said the exercise of voluntary resignation is happening across all departments in a phased manner and they expect that additional verticals would be communicated about the decision in the next few days.

“Out of 21 employees, 10 have already resigned and a few more have been asked to put in their papers. In the app team, 15 out of the 35 have resigned to date after being asked to,” another employee affected by the recent exercise said.

Other verticals including technology, product, and business have also been affected by this action, employees associated with the company posted on Grapevine, a social networking platform for professionals.

Paytm, however, has denied claims of layoffs and related exercises of employee resignation.

“We strongly deny any claims of layoffs within the company. Our focus continues to be on growth, innovation, and delivering seamless service to our customers. We urge stakeholders to rely on official communications for accurate information and disregard speculative narratives,” a Paytm spokesperson said.

Paytm has called its annual appraisal process involving performance evaluations that lead to ‘role adjustments’ as ‘a standard practice across many organisations, distinct from any layoff implications’.

But those impacted by this say otherwise. “On our call with human resources when they asked us to resign, we were specifically told that this is not based on performance. Similarly, my performance assessment report for this entire year (FY24) is yet to be released. Also, will the number of underperforming employees be so much that it will account for nearly half a team?” an employee said.

The above-mentioned source also said that human resources are asking them to resign on video calls and if they resign the company will support in all other formalities.

“After voluntarily resigning and serving the notice period, human resources have said that we will have a clean exit and it will not impact our experience and relieving letter, a full and final (F&F), and good feedback on our background checks. The question is what if I don’t put in my papers,” said one of the employees quoted above.

Human resources at the company have assured employees a ‘clean exit’ in case they choose to resign.

Meanwhile, another individual employed at the company suggested that OCL would restart its hiring process after reducing headcount at a decreased pay scale.

“What happens in such times is that the company will look to fill in the places where employees have resigned after a few months when things cool down. However, it does so with a reduced package in order to control employee costs,” the person said.

The company in the past has said that it is looking at using Artificial Intelligence to improve efficiency, which also means hiring less. In January this year, the company had said that it is focusing on tech-enabled systems to improve operational efficiency as it rationalised its employee cost structures, which includes revising its hiring strategy, focusing on contract employees, and a stricter performance appraisal.

“When the Paytm Payments Bank fiasco happened, OCL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vijay Shekhar Sharma in an internal town hall had assured that there would be no layoffs, and regular hikes will be in place. The human resources and management have now asked us to put in our papers and asked to serve the remaining notice period of two months,” one of the affected employees told Business Standard on the condition of anonymity.

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