Grab retrenches staff to weather Covid-19 impact

There will be no more layoff this year as we execute our refreshed plans to meet our targets, says CEO


TECH company and e-hailing giant Grab Holdings Inc has made the sudden decision to lay off 360 people or 5% of its employees across its eight markets, to reduce expenses due to the single biggest crisis in the company’s history, the Covid-19 pandemic.

This announcement came after Grab Malaysia said it would not be cutting any of its employees last week.

In a note to employees, Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan said he had hoped to never make such an announcement, but had to do so with a heavy heart.

“Please know that we did not come to this decision lightly. We tried everything possible to avoid this, but had to accept that the difficult cuts we are making today are required because millions depend on us for a living in this new normal,” he said in the note.

A statement released by Grab stated that employees affected by this would have received an email yesterday and will be contacted by the respective business managers and human resources representatives.

“Please bear with us as we strive to facilitate this process with a high degree of sensitivity and with the utmost respect for your privacy.

“For Grabbers leaving us, I understand the mix of emotions and anxieties you will go through over the next few days, weeks and months, and we wanted to address that by providing financial, professional, medical and emotional support,” Tan said in the statement released yesterday.

Tan said the support would include a severance payment of half a month for every six months of completed service and an enhanced separation payment that is equivalent to about 11⁄2 months of salary, on top of the severance pay as additional assistance during the Covid-19 crisis and bonus for work done in 2020.

“Employees will also have medical insurance coverage until the end of this year, maternity and paternity leave encashment, and encashment of unused accrued leave,” he said.

Tan said the company saw the Covid-19 impact started to show since February 2020, causing the company to review and adjust to the challenges ahead. He said despite reviewing all costs, cutting back on discretionary spending and implementing pay cuts for senior management, the company recognised the need to become leaner as an organisation.

“To achieve this, we will be dropping some non-core projects, consolidating functions for greater efficiency and right-sizing teams to better match our changing business needs given the external environment.

“We are also doubling-down on our delivery verticals and have redeployed Grabbers to meet the increased customer demand for deliveries. We were able to save many jobs through this redeployment of resources and it helped limit the scope of the reduction exercise to just under 5%,” Tan said while giving assurance that this would be the last layoff for this year.

“I am confident as we execute against our refreshed plans to meet our targets, we will not have to go through this painful exercise again in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tan said the board would continue to be bullish on its business outlook and focus on adapting its core verticals that include ride-hailing, deliveries, payments and financial services.

“At the same time, we will expand support for small businesses by enriching our merchant service offerings and we believe these steps will steady us on the path towards sustainability,” he said.

A Grab Malaysia spokesperson told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that its partners would not be affected by these cuts.

“We remain committed for the long term with a focus on meeting the needs of the consumer in our core business.

“We will continue to invest in the initiative that will help our drivers, delivery partners and merchant-partners adapt to the new normal as Malaysia reopens its economy,” the spokesperson told TMR.