Digital banking startup Revolut has allegedly been forcing its employees to quit, a new report has revealed. The company had attempted to make the employees take a voluntary pay cut in exchange for company shares. When this plan wasn’t as successful as foreseen, it moved on to coerce them into accepting terminations.
Revolut, which recently revealed it’s expanding to Australia, forced over 50 employees to accept ‘voluntary terminations’, according to a Wired report. This number doesn’t include the 62 employees who were laid off in early May. At the time, the startup claimed that it “had to make cost savings, where possible, since the lockdown”.
Revolut’s alleged actions come despite having secured $500 million in its most recent funding round. The funding valued the company at $5.5 billion, the highest valuation for a European fintech startup.
According to the Wired report, the layoffs most impacted Revolut’s Poland and Portugal offices. The former is one of its most important centers, with more employees than its London headquarters. Many of the laid-off workers told the outlet that they are now stranded without health insurance at the worst possible time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For others, especially in the Krakow, they are stranded without a job in a foreign country, according to the report. Revolut had been hiring workers from around the globe and giving them residency permits in Poland and Portugal. Most of these workers were in the customer service division.
The troubles started a while back with a ‘voluntary’ pay cut in lieu of twice its value in company shares. Revolut’s shares are valued at $121. 4. In May, the company claimed that 60% of its staff members had opted in to the pay cut. This program would save the company $900,000 a month in salaries.
However, as some of the employees told Wired, the company pressured them into taking the pay cut. A source in the HR department told the outlet, “I spoke with a few guys and they told me they gave away ten per cent at least because they were afraid that in the end they will look for the employees that didn’t give the money back. Obviously they don’t say we won’t fire [if you participate in the scheme] but in the end the message was a bit like that. If you sacrifice money we’ll stop firing people.”
Revolut, which offers digital currencies alongside its banking services, could find itself in legal trouble for its actions. Grzegorz Ilnicki, a Polish employment lawyer, believes that forcing the employees to choose between leaving through a mutual agreement and getting fired is illegal.
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