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Pandemic leave, one-time bonus, and more: India employers are going all out to protect their employees’ wellbeing

Pandemic leave, one-time bonus, and more: India employers are going all out to protect their employees’ wellbeing

The majority have pledged to cover the COVID-19 vaccination cost for their employees and dependents. In this exclusive, see what initiatives have been taken by PwC India, Tata AIA Life, NEC India, and more.

India continues to be among the most severely-affected countries in the world by the raging COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 28mn cases registered as of 7 June 2021. In this scenario, it is heartening to see employers in India stepping up to protect their workforce and introduce special initiatives to help their employees tide through this tough period.

For starters, several, including NEC India and WeWork India, have pledged to sponsor the costs of vaccination for their employees and their dependents. PwC India, on the other hand, announced a special bonus for its employees, independent of the usual appraisal cycle.

Here at HRO, we have compiled a list of 10 such employers in India who are going the extra mile to protect their employees’ wellbeing amidst the pandemic.

If you would like to submit your organisation's COVID-19 wellbeing initiatives (in India) for a feature in HRO, please send it the details to Lester Tan at

[Story updated with Tata AIA Life's initiatives on 8 July 2021]

Tata AIA Life ensures all of its employees are vaccinated with at least one dose

Tata AIA Life insurance made use of campaigns 'Pehle Teeka' and 'Raksha ka teeka', which spread awareness and importance about COVID-19 vaccination, to encourage its employees are inoculated. It was revealed that 99% of eligible employees have received at least their first dose of the vaccine in the last two months, as updated on July 2021.

To that end, the company has been providing complete vaccination support to all employees, in the form of reimbursement of the vaccination cost and one day leave for each dose.

Apart from vaccination, Tata AIA Life also extended the COVID Kavach policy, which covers hospitalisation expenses, to its employees and their spouses. Through this policy, expense coverage is available for up to INR 100,000 each. If required, employees can also avail of an advance of INR 50,000 to cover other medical expenses.

Further, the Group's Mediclaim coverage was also increased to INR 700,000 for employees, spouses and up to two children. Should there be cases of casualties, insurance equalling six times the annual salary of the employee has been provided.

To ensure that employees and their family members don't have to step out of the house for medical reasons, a Practo PLUS health plan has been extended to them. This plan covers e-consultation with qualified doctors, digital prescription, home sample collection for medical tests, and home delivery of medication at a discounted price.

Kristyl Bhesania, Executive Vice President and Head of HR, Tata AIA Life, said, "We, at Tata AIA Life, take immense pride in our people and we take every possible step towards ensuring their wellbeing and happiness.

"Our employees have stood by us, and have worked relentlessly to ensure that the benefits of life insurance are extended to as many Indians as possible. Whatever we can do as a company to lessen their worries, especially about their near and dear ones, is, we believe, not only our responsibility but our purpose."

[24]7a.i announces 'WeCare' policy to help families of employees who have succumbed to COVID-19

[24], a customer engagement solutions firm, has announced a 'WeCare' policy that provides financial support for the families of employees who have passed away form COVID-19.

'WeCare' helps their loved ones in four ways:

  • Finance: The family of the deceased employee will get his last drawn salary for 12 months
  • Medical: An employee’s family will be entitled to a medical insurance package that covers all family members.
  • Education: The company will sponsor their children's education until they are aged 18.
  • Employment: [24] will find suitable employment opportunities within the organisation so that the spouse is able to make a living.

Nina Nair, Senior Vice President & HRD Head, India & Americas, said: "For us, the wellbeing of our employees and their families is of utmost importance. We will do whatever we can to ensure the safety, prevention of disease, care, and recovery of our employees.

"Unfortunately, we lost some of our team members to COVID-19 and can understand the impact it had on their families. We have launched the 'We Care' initiative to take care of the families of those who have succumbed to this dreaded virus."

RepIndia rewards its employees with four special holidays in 2021

To show appreciation to its employees’ unwavering dedication and support for the company amidst the pandemic, RepIndia, an integrated digital agency, has announced four special holidays for them, in addition to India’s 12 annual holidays.

The four special holidays introduced by RepIndia are:

  • ‘A great team’ holiday (19 February);
  • ‘Day of Radio Silence’ (19 June);
  • An extra day off on Rakhi (20 August);
  • Off-in-lieu for Christmas Eve (24 December)

Archit Chenoy, CEO, RepIndia, shared: “While we can debate the pros and cons of virtual working ad nauseam, I think we can all agree that WFH instated last year, has significantly blurred the lines between personal and professional life, leaving employees with a ‘work-life blur’.”

“Add to that the emotional pressures of coping with the pandemic around us, we felt as an industry, the wellbeing of our team was left vulnerable. This is our humble effort to not only avoid burnout but also to say thanks to the ones that have stood by us, allowing our employees to do whatever they need to for themselves and their wellbeing.”

Special bonuses for all PwC India employees

Management consulting firm, PwC India, has announced a special one-time bonus for all its employees, independent of the firm’s usual appraisal and increment cycle. The bonus is equivalent to two-weeks' pay, and was included in the March 2021 salary of all employees.

“The past one year has been one of the most challenging and disruptive years for business, not only for us but also our clients,” said Sanjeev Krishan, Chairman, PwC India, “It called for an organisational and workplace overhaul that none of us anticipated.

“Responding to the crisis with extreme agility and ensuring business continuity for all was paramount and we are very proud of and humbled by the way all our people got together and ensured that we and our clients not only navigate the crisis well, but also emerge stronger from it.”

Krishan also reiterated that it is because of his employees’ efforts in such a difficult year, that PwC India can remain on course to meet its business objectives.

VMware rolls out enhanced wellbeing programme

To allow employees to live a more healthy and balanced life, cloud computing services provider VMware has enhanced its existing wellbeing programme by providing all employees an allowance of INR29,565 as equitable reimbursement. Employees can use this allowance to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination too.

VMware’s previous wellbeing programme announcements included:

  • A pandemic leave policy, where employees are entitled to five days of paid leave; and
  • EPIC2 days, where there are four company-wide holidays given to employees to help switch off and spend time with their families

A coaching and therapy services programme, called ICAS, to boost the mental and emotional wellbeing of not just the employees, but also their dependents.

“At VMware,” Ramkumar Narayanan, VP Technology & MD, VMware India, said, “we believe that true innovation is tied in with an environment where employees can bring in their best selves to work.”

This is why he felt it’s the company’s duty to establish a work culture that prioritises employee’s health, both physical and mental.

Advance Valves installs virus attenuation devices in its factories to curb COVID-19

With help from Shycocan Corporation, Advance Valves, a manufacturing company, has installed close to 150+ virus attenuation devices across four units covering manufacturing plants and offices of Advance Valves located at Noida, Greater Noida and Himachal Pradesh

This is said to protect more than 600 technical staff and office employees from COVID-19 through significantly reduced risk of infection, and allow the workforce to continue operating without fear of getting infected at the factory premises.

Priyank Garg, Joint MD, Advance Valves, shared how much the pandemic has caused huge disruptions to their work; shutting their factories down since March last year. Only recently, in May, could Advance Valves resume operations.

Although it’s a sense of relief, he isn’t neglecting his employees’ safety for his business. Garg added: “The safety and wellbeing of all our employees is our foremost priority and concern.”

A list of companies covering vaccination cost for their employees and their families

Piramal Enterprises

All employees at financial services and pharmaceuticals major Piramal Enterprises (which amounts to approximately 27,000 employees) will have their COVID-19 vaccination cost absorbed by the company. This move is extended to their immediate family members too.

Eligible parties can, in addition, access Piramal’s virtual vaccine helpdesks across its offices in India. Queries on the vaccination—think vaccination registration, vaccination centres information—will be addressed and provided.

Nandini Piramal, Executive Director, Piramal Enterprises, said: “Driven by our values, we believe that employees are our greatest assets, and we remain committed to ensuring their wellbeing and welfare.

“We are happy to absorb the cost of the COVID-19 vaccination, as well as to support them through the process, should they choose to get vaccinated.”

Bahwan CyberTek

Indian IT company, Bahwan CyberTek, has pledged to reimburse the cost of COVID-19 vaccination for all its employees and their dependent family members. This applies to the two vaccine shots mandated by the government.

“At Bahwan CyberTek, we strongly believe that the health of all our employees and their family members is crucial and of upmost importance,” Mike Muralidharan, CEO, Bahwan CyberTek said.

It is thus, he shared, the company’s responsibility to ensure that necessary steps, like such, are taken to safeguard employees’ health.

AT&S India

Manufacturer of high-end printed circuit boards, AT&S India will reimburse the cost of the two mandated vaccine shots for all its employees when it becomes available. The initiative aims to ensure the health and wellbeing of all its employees at the company’s plant in Nanjangud near Mysuru.

RS Simha, MD and CFO, AT&S India, commented: “AT&S India is committed to keeping its employees safe and healthy and above everything else.”

“Our workers have shown exemplary commitment and dedication by reporting for duty even during the initial lockdown last year when our plant in Nanjangud had to operate as an Emergency Service Provider to support the Government of Karnataka’s programme for the vital production of ventilators.”

It is now the company’s turn, he continued, to repay their efforts and hard work.

WeWork India

Flexible workspace provider, WeWork India has announced that it will be covering 100% of the cost of COVID 19 vaccination for all its active employees, as well as three of their dependents. This includes parents and parents-in-law.

In addition, WeWork India has also renewed its group medical policy. It encompasses a ‘corona kavach group’ policy for its employees, and five of their dependents: spouse, two children, and two dependent parents-in-law.

This policy covers hospitalisation expenses, home-care treatment during a 14-day quarantine period, no limit on ICU hospitalisation and five lakhs sum amount insured per family.

To these initiatives, Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India, said: “Health and safety of our members and employees is a top priority to us, and at WeWork, we have ensured that all possible measures are undertaken to ensure their safety.”

In the latest update to this (2 June 2021), WeWork has shared that in addition to the company’s voluntary COVID-19 vaccination drive, if any employee has managed to secure a slot on the COWIN portal, the company will continue to reimburse the cost of vaccination for them and their dependents.

Any employees who test positive for COVID-19 at present or in the future, can avail the company’s ‘Covid Leave’, a new leave category, wherein employees can avail leave up to 28 days depending on the need to make a full recovery.

Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL)

Education services provider AESL has announced that it will cover the full cost of COVID-19 vaccination for its entire employee strength of 5,000 and one dependent each across India. The vaccine cost will also be taken care of for the nearly 750 support staff across India including housekeeping staff and security guards as well.

“Our employees,” Aakash Chaudhry, MD, AESL, said, “have shown exemplary perseverance and dedication during the ongoing pandemic.” He highlighted that this move is the company’s commitment to protect its employees’ wellbeing. Covering the cost of vaccination is a small gesture from the company to express its gratitude towards its employees.

Wherever practicable and feasible, the company will try and organise vaccination camps at its facilities in partnership with local healthcare providers and in-line with Government guidelines.

NEC India

A wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, NEC India is sponsoring the COVID-19 vaccination for employees and their declared dependents, who are a part of the company medical insurance.

The company has also arranged for Covid Care concierge desks across office locations—Noida, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore—to manage work schedules better, and guide employees on the vaccination process. These desks can also help to share details of nearby vaccination centres, along with the overall claims process.

NEC will provide a claim value of INR250 per vaccination shot. After the first dose, the beneficiary will be automatically given a follow-up appointment for the second dose at the same centre.

Kashish Daya Kapoor, CHRO & Head HR, NEC India, said: “At NEC, our first responsibility as a business is to ensure the safety of our employees and their families. Everyone at NEC has contributed to the organisation collectively as a team during the time of crises.” This is why, she reiterated, the company is making this move; and thus urged employees, and their families, to get vaccinated immediately when possible. 


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