With low visibility on future business volumes across sectors, India’s job market is traversing a rough terrain. As the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic continues to grow globally, several companies are delaying hiring decisions and in many cases putting a complete freeze on fresh recruitment, according to job portals and human resource (HR) consultants.
The scenario will be particularly trying for employees in sectors that have taken a comparatively bigger hit or were the first to be affected by the spread of the coronavirus.
“There are many sectors like aviation, hospitality, travel and leisure who are among the worst-hit because of the global outbreak,” says Neha Bagaria, founder and CEO, JobsForHer, an online portal that connects women with job opportunities.
Job-search platform Shine.com reveals that over the last 15 days there has been an overall slowdown in job-postings with more decline in sectors such as aviation, hospitality, and tourism especially in cities like Mumbai where the impact of the coronavirus is higher as compared to other markets.
“The Covid-19 outbreak is causing hiring leaders to rethink their hiring forecasts for the coming months,” Zairus Master, CEO, Shine.com told Fortune India.
Garish Oberoi, treasurer of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality, pegs the job losses in the tourism and hospitality sector alone at about 38 million, according to a recent Reuters report.
However, Master believes that sectors such as healthcare are bound to see a “significant uptick” in the wake of the Coronavirus contagion. “Since people are staying indoors until the virus is contained, we project a considerable growth (in hiring) in the e-commerce and online delivery services,” he says.
Last week Amazon.com Inc. said that it plans to hire an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. as warehouse and delivery workers to deal with the rise in online orders amid the Coronavirus outbreak. However, Amazon India hasn’t yet announced any plans to hire more people in the country.
HR consultants also point out that employers are taking a wait-and-watch approach before making any decisions regarding the upcoming appraisal session. “There could be some delays in appraisals both from the process and cost management perspective. Organisations might want to wait till things go back to normal and they resume working from office before holding discussions and rolling out the appraisals,” says Master.
Meanwhile, consulting major PwC India on Friday said that it is deferring increments, promotions, and bonuses for all its staff in the country. Shyamal Mukherjee, chairman, PwC India, wrote in a LinkedIn post, “We at PwC India have initiated proactive measures that will help navigate the uncertainties, keep all employees safe and make our organisation more sustainable. We have worked out some interim measures, which include deferment of promotions, increments and bonus till a point in time one gets certainty around business.” The advisory firm will also implement a 25% pay cut for the partners and executive directors in India.
JobsForHer’s Bagaria says that companies are in a cash-conservation mode and are delaying or cancelling bonus payouts and increments. “In some cases, companies are asking employees to take a 30-40% pay cut in order to reduce layoffs.”
Earlier this week MakeMyTrip founder and group chairman Deep Kalra announced salary cuts for top-level executives at the company. According to reports, Kalra and Rajesh Magow, Group CEO, MakeMyTrip have decided to take zero salary effective April, while the rest of the top management will take a cut of about 50% in their pay cheques.
Last week, India’s largest airline IndiGo announced a pay cut for a cross section of its employees, effective April 1, after its business took a massive hit following travel bans and restrictions on account of the pandemic. Ronojoy Dutta, CEO, IndiGo said that he will take a 25% cut in salary, while all other employees will have to take a pay cut ranging between 5% and 20%; Employees in bands A and B will be exempted.
On March 18, IndiGo’s smaller rival GoAir terminated the contracts of its expat pilots after it had to suspend its international operations. The airline also put in place a leave without pay programme for its staff on a rotational basis.
Staffing companies say that while it is still early to see the actual impact of the “unprecedented situation” on the job market, employers are taking a wait-and-watch approach before making any critical HR decisions.
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