Edtech major Byju's-owned WhiteHat Jr has said though some employees have resigned from the company following its new guidelines asking employees to work from the office, the numbers being reported are "highly inflated". "It's not that they were fired by the company. Some people who joined during the pandemic two years, may have their personal reasons not to join office. Some may have kids or families to take care of. The numbers being reported are highly inflated," says a company spokesperson.
The official statement from WhiteHat Jr says it only asked sales and support staff to report in Gurugram and Mumbai offices and that its teachers are still working from home. "As part of our back-to-work drive, most of our sales and support employees have been asked to report to Gurgaon and Mumbai offices from April 18. We have made exceptions for medical and personal exigencies and have offered relocation assistance as required. Our teachers will continue to work from home."
A source in the company confirmed to Fortune India that the number of employees who have resgined post the new work guidelines is around 220 not 800, which is "not a news as resignations in companies happen all the time".
The company said WhiteHat Jr's "vision is to democratise education in India to enable the next generation to learn critical skill sets and become technology creators of the future". "We continue to invest in developing relevant curriculum for students and build a strong teacher community with high recruitment and training standards," the statement adds.
Some reports, however, suggest the number of employees putting their papers in the past two months could be around 750-800. The employees, who are not happy with the new guidelines, are reported to have alleged that it’s a well-managed way of firing them, though the company has denied such allegations.
The loss-making startup, acquired by India's biggest ed-tech startup Byju's in 2020, sent an email to employees on March 18. It set a one-month deadline for them to comply with the new arrangement. Many of these employees were working from the office for two years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those who have resigned from the coding startup are full-time employees from sales, coding and math teams, an online tech media platform reported. They said they were not in favour of relocating to locations like Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Gurugram. Many were hired during the Covid-19 pandemic period, and for the past two years, they worked in the WFH arrangement only.
While some employees cited that one-month time was not enough to join the office, others said the company didn’t factor in salaries while asking to move to new locations.
Byju's acquisition of WhiteHat Jr was one of the biggest in the ed-tech space in India. Under Byju's, WhiteHat Jr's has expanded to many countries. Its revenue also saw a manifold jump to ₹483.9 crore during the financial year ending March 2021 from just ₹19 crore in FY20. However, the losses continue to mount. The company's net loss in FY21 ballooned to ₹1,690.50 crore compared to just ₹48.95 in FY20. Its expense also rose 31.2 times to ₹2,175.20 in FY21 as compared to ₹69.70 crore during FY20, the data filed with RoC shows.
Not just WhiteHat Jr, the overall ed-tech sector is seeing somewhat similar problems in India since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic waned and schools and other institutes opened. The ed-tech startup Unacademy laid off 600 employees, including its on-roll staff, contractual staff and educators in March-April. The sacked staff comprises less than 10% of the workforce of the Bengaluru-based company.
The slashing of the workforce is part of Unacademy's cost-cutting measures amid a sluggish venture funding environment and delay in the closing of crucial deals. Similarly, another ed-tech startup Vedantu also fired around 200 employees this month as part of its rejig.