Layoffs, pay cuts, leave without pay: COVID-19 hits Indian media

The Quint, the Times of India and Indian Express have all undertaken cost cutting measures.
Layoffs, pay cuts, leave without pay: COVID-19 hits Indian media
Layoffs, pay cuts, leave without pay: COVID-19 hits Indian media
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The Indian media suffered a bloodbath on Monday, with multiple organisations sacking staffers, shutting divisions, extending leave without pay or cutting pay of employees.

Bennett Coleman’s The Times of India laid off its entire Sunday Magazine team — including nine employees from the Times of India, six of Times Life and three from Speaking Tree.

NewsNation also laid off all 15 members of the English digital team, and according to Newslaundry, were not given notice of termination or allowed to serve their notice period. Employees were also only receiving a month’s basic salary as severance.

This comes after the Indian Express and Business Standard cut salaries for employees. IE said that the pay cuts were temporary. 

IE’s leadership took a 100% pay cut, and instituted different levels of pay cuts for employees on different pay scales. Those earning below Rs 5 lakh would not see any change, between Rs 5 and Rs 7.5 lakh would see a 10% cut, between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh would see a 15% pay cut, Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh would see 20% cut, Rs 20 lakh to Rs 35 lakh would see a 25% pay cut, and those earning above would see a 30% pay cut. 

“Nothing will make me happier than to propose to you to withdraw this salary cut, the moment we turn the corner but what worries me is that if the situation continues this proposed reduction in salary will also not be enough for us to see through this crisis,” CEO George Varghese said in an email, but also stated that employees will have to make more sacrifices if things don’t improve. 

For Business Standard, pay cuts start for those earning above Rs 10 lakh from May onwards. 

In other cost cutting measures, Outlook Magazine also ceased production of its print edition temporarily. 

Digital news outlet The Quint closed down its auto and technology sections, and around 45 staffers including reporters, a bureau chief and production staff were sent on leave without pay from April 15. 

In an email to employees, Quint said that under the current circumstances, their revenues will be under severe strain for at least three to four months. 

In the email, the Quint said that there was a “double whammy” of the health crisis along with an economic one. “We’ve never seen a world where consumer spending is down by over 50%, where wealth and asset values built over the years, have been ravaged in a matter of days. We simply have no idea where this could end,” the email read. 

After multiple employees raised grievances, Quint sent a follow-up email where it said that those making below Rs 65,000, who have been put on leave without pay, will receive their salaries till April 30. 

Insurance of all employees will still hold, and if they require, can get a month’s salary in advance on request. They can also withdraw money from their employee provident fund accounts. 

BloombergQuint also informed employees that steep pay cuts can be expected for the month of April, and it would return to normal for the month of May.  

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