One email and my job was gone. Will youth bear the brunt of India's COVID unemployment crisis?

Even the students have been caught in the wave, with companies like Gartner, WorkIndia and Uber revoking job offers made to graduates from IIMs, SPJain and MDI.

Anushika Srivastava
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Anupama Mishra received a mail, and within the blink of an eye, her job was lost. One among other thousands, this is the story of a girl who lost her job because of the ongoing COVID layoffs. No other reason, no notice period, and no financial assistance. At a time when companies have already paused hiring, this came as a jolt to her, because now she doesn't know what to do with herself. She isn't alone. A few days ago, Uber laid off 3500 employees in a 3 minute zoom call. India's top companies like Make My Trip, other ecommerce companies have also laid off over 15% of their staff. Are young bearing the brunt of job losses? For many of us, 2020 was the year of reckoning, when we would work as MBAs and live our career dreams.


Around 27 million youth in the age group of 20-30 years in India, lost their jobs in April, according to a recent report by CMIE (Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy). Students even from the best colleges in India like IIMs, SPJain, and MDI saw a rollback to job offers from top companies.

Unrealistic Work Hours Only Option?

Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy recently suggested that Indians should work for 60 hours a week for the next two-three years in order to revive the Indian economy. So, instead of the current 40 hours and five days a week, Indians ought to work for 10 hours per day for six days a week. Because who cares about the mental health of the employees? And we aren't the first one linking working hours with mental well-being and life satisfaction.

According to Forbes, eight hours a day is considered to be an ideal working time so as to boost mental health and productivity. Anything beyond this will only result in negative health outcomes for the employees, ranging from greater risks of heart diseases to stress and anxiety. So while we are trying our best to boost our plummeting economy, are we ready for a toll on the mental health of our employees? Or look at how COVID threatens overtake employee welfare norms? Where do we stand on considering the future outcomes of imposing hectic work schedules?

Even the students have been caught in the wave, with companies like Gartner, WorkIndia and Uber revoking job offers made to graduates from IIMs, SPJain and MDI.

Nihareka Gupta, an ex-employee at an IT Firm was fired without any prior notice. On the increment in working hours, she says, " In the private sector, 9-10 hours working is normal, but it is unofficial. However, if we abide by Sir Narayan Murthy's comment, and if 10 hours are made official, employers will get a chance to push us into longer unofficial working hours at the same pay scale. Ultimately, it'll be the employees who'll suffer." Neharika is one of those IT Sector employees who were fired all of a sudden, as a part of massive layoffs. She shares how she's concerned about finances for the next year, as companies have paused hiring. COVID certainly, has highlighted the bitter reality of the private job culture- The inhumane and callous approach that employers have towards their staff.


Dear Uber, The Way You Lay Off Employees Speaks A Lot About You

Three-minute Zoom call, and boom! You do not have your job anymore. This is the new reality as very recently, the ridesharing company Uber introduced around 3500 layoffs on a three-minute Zoom call. These frontline customer support employees, which form around 14 percent of the total employee density of Uber, were eliminated as the company is facing a crisis due to COVID. Like them, scooter-sharing startup Bird, which followed the same callous, insensitive approach.

Also Read: Numbers Show Lockdown To Have Catastrophic Impact On Women: UNFPA

Some companies Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Salesforce, Bank of America Palo Alto network, etc. have pledged that they will not layoff workers in 2020. We don't know when and how that will change. The insensitive approach adopted y companies like Uber has raised very important questions about our work culture.  Is this is what employees expect from an organization to which they devote their time and skills? Is this what employees expect at the time of crisis when their mental health is already vulnerable?  Anupama adds, " When I came to know about how Uber eliminated a major chunk of its staff on Zoom call, I was stunned. I have been through this and I know how it feels- giving your everything to the company and still getting sided by them in the hour of need."

What lies ahead could be more unemployment. As of last year the average unemployment rate in India was 10% as per Statista. But when scrunitised further, the numbers were even more scary. Around 33% of the formally trained youth was unemployed in 2017-18 as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). Nearly a third of trained young men and more than a third of trained young women were unemployed.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to a recent report by the Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy, around 27 million youth in the age group of 20-30 years, lost their jobs in April, owing to the COVID crisis
  • Estimates released in March end by the National Sample Survey (NSS) and Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS) suggested that over 136 million non-agricultural jobs will be lost as a result of COVID. 
  • A survey conducted from May 1 to May 10 by and, found that 68 percent of the employers surveyed have either started the layoff process or are planning to. 
  • How dicey the near future of the job market is due to COVID, was highlighted on Thursday, when Uber eliminated around 3500 employees on a three-minute Zoom Call.

At the moment, things are only going to get worse. There will be student loan crisis, the educated sitting at home crisis and one will only need to wonder where we are headed with this. In a job market, no matter what sops come through from the government, it's eventually the demand and supply which has to kick in.

Names have been changed on request

Also Read: Google Global Walkout: Employees Protest Harassment, Inequality


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