Oyo rolls out ESOPs for furloughed employees

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Hospitality firm Oyo is trying to assuage the hurt of its furloughed employees, by offering them employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) worth around Rs 130 crore.

An internal e-mail from its founder Ritesh Agarwal said the move is part of the company’s efforts to minimise the disruption experienced by these employees, news agency PTI said.

On April 8, Agarwal had said in a letter that the company will place a certain number of employees on furloughs or temporary leaves, globally.

In an internal town hall note to the impacted employees, Agarwal on Monday said that while he hoped that the company can get as many employees back, he is cognisant of the practical reality that the uncertainty around the COVID-19 situation will continue for some time.

“I would like to recognise your contributions and this love and passion for Oyo by making you a co-owner and shareholder of the company. I would like to inform you that all impacted Oyopreneurs would be eligible for ESOPs worth around Rs 130 crore (around $18 million),” he said.

Details of the specific individual grants will be shared on e-mail separately to the employees, which will be detailed as per their band and geographies.

“In addition, we also understand that some of you may already have stock options. For those employees, we are dropping the one-year cliff on the vesting of stock options for everyone we have hired in the past year. This will ensure that everyone departing, regardless of how long they have been with OYO, can become a shareholder,” Agarwal said.

The company will also provide stocks to employees not impacted, thereby making all team members co-owners, PTI stated in its report.

“This is the first time in the history of the company that such a large part of the organisation is being inducted as a stakeholder. That too at a time when some of you may decide not to be part of our future. This is a small token of gratitude from us for your contribution in building this company and for your unwavering support to us in good as well as bad times,” Agarwal said.

Given the uncertainty around the timelines for complete business revival, the company has also announced placement support for furloughed employees, keen to explore opportunities outside of the company or industry.

“The organisation will also come up with an institutionalised placement support system for those who wish to avail it,” Agarwal said.

Oyo is also actively working with the company’s investors to identify opportunities in their portfolio companies and help its employees with alternative career opportunities in those companies, he added. “I am happy to share that in Japan, we have helped about 150 Oyopreneurs through this route,” Agarwal said.

The company has also formed an exigency fund for the employees who may need it for some critical illness cases, he added. Agarwal also said he was extremely sorry for the impact, and added that he wanted to re-emphasise that “this is not your fault in any way. This is a scary and a tough time for all of us in different ways.”