The unfortunate event of COVID-19 has posed serious threats to various sectors, the aviation sector being one amongst the majorly hit sectors. Due to the increased threat of the pandemic, several flights remained suspended for long periods. Keeping in view the situation and after careful analysis of circumstances, the aviation sector came back to action with a bang. However, despite the sincere efforts of the management and other employees, there have been instances that are quite alarming as far as the current situation is concerned.
The aviation sector has witnessed a great decline in the passenger rate, leading to financial overburden on the airlines. Adding to the financial crunch other issues have also surged which include an increase in sanitization costs, fear amongst employees, and lack of interest of few people to serve during the crisis. Subsequently, airlines had undergone huge deficits and as a result, have utilized almost 90% of the capital reserve available to them.
Now, the situation, for Air India, have gone so worse that the airlines are forced to allow LWP to the employees for a period ranging from six months to two years, which can be further extended to a period of almost five years if the need arises.
The airlines may also compulsorily ask their employees to go for LWP, looking at the current crisis. However, the compulsory LWP would greatly depend on factors like the health of the employee, their suitability for the job role, and competence.
As per an official order released by Air India in this regard, the management and departmental heads are required to prepare a report on assessment conducted for each individual, based on the above-mentioned factors, and prepare a list of employees where compulsory LWP can be exercised.
On the other hand, the majority of airlines, like GoAir and Air India have been working on a cut salary basis, since April. Only Indigo airlines have some cash reserves, which is just sufficient to strive through the crisis.
The employees may volunteer for the LWP, pending approval from the concerned authorities on case to case basis. The order further reads as follows, the employees availing the LWP scheme, shall not be permitted to take up jobs at the government sector or other undertakings of the public sector. However, the same order further cites that in certain cases the employees may be allowed to take up jobs under different organizations or allied airlines after prior information to the concerned authorities with all due permissions. Also, the LWP scheme shall have no effect on the service tenure, gratuity, pensions, and other similar benefits available to the employees. The employees availing the LWP scheme shall be allowed to avail of medical benefits or passage advantages during the said period.
The report regarding staff assessment has to be submitted, the latest by 15 August 2020.
(This news has been written and submitted by Ms. Mansi Batra during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Mansi is a third-year law student at the Fairfield Institute of Management and Technology, Kapashera, New Delhi.)