As the pandemic impacts more lives than ever before, startup majors have started rolling out initiatives to care for families of employees impacted. From paying salaries to families of deceased employees to supporting them with jobs and to dedicating funds for these employees, startups are implementing multiple measures.
Fintech major Paytm has lost eight employees to the second wave so far. A company spokesperson told Inc42 that it will continue to pay salaries to the deceased employees during the financial year. “The company will continue to pay salaries to the families of deceased employees throughout the current financial year. We will also make arrangements to offer employment opportunities to the family members of these employees,” said the Paytm spokesperson.
After an employee succumbed to Covid 19, home and utility services startups Urban Company has set up a Covid-19 Relief Fund in partnership with the charitable trust Srinidhi Foundation. The fund, named after the late employee Mohit Agrawal will provide medical assistance and bereavement support to the company’s service partners and their families amid these times. Urban Company’s founders and employees will jointly contribute INR 1 Cr to the relief fund. The company has further announced that it will match all contributions made to the fund to double the amount raised for Covid relief efforts.
The company is also working with private healthcare providers and local governments to set up free vaccination camps for the Urban Company community of employees and gig workers. The company has made arrangements for its service professionals to get themselves tested free of cost, get doctor consultations, have access to vaccination camps, daily temperature checks, etc.
Similarly, in an email to employees, Byju Raveendran, founder edtech major Byju’s, informed employees about an INR 20 Cr fund that has been established for employee benefits. The fund will cover covid related expenses of its employees which the employees can avail through reimbursements of their medical charges in case they or their family members are hospitalised.
Restaurant aggregator Zomato announced that it would provide 100% of the deceased employee’s income for two years to the family. Food delivery giant Zomato also runs a not-for-profit organisation named Feeding India, which is currently accepting donations for its ‘India Needs Oxygen’ campaign, whereby, the pooled funds will be used to provide hospitals with oxygen and related supplies needed to treat critical Covid patients.
Another edtech major, Unacademy, has reportedly initiated a $1 Mn Covid internal fund for employee welfare. Unacademy has donated INR 7 Cr to Zomato’s Feeding India initiative, while gaming startup Dream11 has donated INR 15 Cr to GiveIndia and ACT Grants.
The first pandemic wave in 2020, saw startups responding with massive layoffs and pay cuts across the ecosystem. During the second wave, so far, companies have taken a measured approach to prevent such decisions. Moreover, with the healthcare system failing to the extent of impacting even the industry leaders, startups are taking a humane approach, at par with corporate peers to protect employee wellbeing during these times.
What needs to be seen is whether these mature startups keep these as one time initiatives or if it becomes a part of the larger startup playbook as these businesses evolve from their startup roots into corporate entities.
Indian startups are also pooling funds to contribute towards Covid relief efforts. Fintech giant Paytm is also airlifting 21,000 oxygen concentrators (OCs) from other countries. These OCs are expected to reach India by the first week of May.
These devices would be immediately sent to government hospitals, Covid care facilities, private hospitals, nursing homes as well as resident welfare associations. The company has already raised INR 5 Cr from citizens for the initiative and has matched rupee for rupee making it INR 10 Cr. Encouraged by the overwhelming support and contribution from people across the country, Paytm is now aiming to raise over INR 20 Cr to source more than 3,000 OCs.