News & Analysis

Big Tech Layoffs – Where is it Headed?

The spate of layoffs announced by big tech companies appears to have raised the hackles of the government, though it remains to be seen how things pan out

The spate of layoffs by Big Tech companies is only getting worse, with Google’s parent Alphabet being the latest to join others like Meta, Amazon and Microsoft. The internet giant has reportedly asked managers to identify 6% of the poorest performers in the company, which adds up to about 10,000 people, to be laid off starting in the New Year. 


Meanwhile, there seems to be some apprehension in the central government circles about these spate of layoffs and how many of those would be made on Indian outsourced operations by some of these companies. A report published in the ET says the Ministry of Labour has summoned Amazon at its Bengaluru office in connection with their layoff announcement. 


Google sneaks in new performance management

Coming back to the Alphabet story, a report published by The Information dated November 17, says Google has set in place a new performance management system that could potentially help it ship out thousands of underperforming employees starting early in 2023. The system could also be used by managers to avoid paying them bonuses and stock grants, it says. 


The article, which can be read in toto by signing up on the website with your Gmail, says some managers have been asked to categorize 6% of the employees as low performers in terms of their impact for the business. In the earlier review system, which was replaced by Google in May, managers identified 2% of the staff under this bucket. 


The publication also claims that under the new review system, Google has also reduced the percentage of employees who could score a high rating. Both these bits of information suggest that Google would soon join its peers by laying off a sizeable chunk of its workforce as recessionary trends hit the global economy, specifically in the US and Europe. 


Government seeks clarification from Amazon

Meanwhile, the Union Labour Ministry issued notices to Amazon over allegations of forced terminations and asked the company to send representatives to a hearing on the matter before the deputy chief labour commissioner in Bengaluru. 


The development is an outcome of a complaint filed by a staff welfare organization called Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES) that made this allegation via a letter written to the Central Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav. It claimed that Amazon staffers were removed forcefully by the company that violated the country’s labour laws. 


NITES claimed that a voluntary separation program notice had been issued to staffers giving a deadline of November 30 to complete the process, which it said would result in loss of livelihood for many employees. The organization’s president Harpreet Saluja said the union was seeking a just resolution to the problem. 


Of course, it is still unclear as to how many Amazon staffers in India would be impacted with media reports claiming first that about a hundred jobs could be lost and then suggesting that the number could be way beyond. In fact, the media quoted unnamed Amazon employees to suggest that the layoff impact could be higher in India than those of Meta and Microsoft. 

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