Revolut accused of coercing 50 workers to quit their jobs
Revolut has been accused of pressuring more than 50 of its employees to leave their jobs, according to an investigation from Wired.
Based in Poland and Portugal, the workers in question were not included in the 62 redundancies the fintech start-up confirmed last month.
After firing these employees, it is understood that Revolut pressured them to pick between two documents – one terminating employment for “underperformance”, the other cited a “mutual agreement” including a small severance that counted as the employee leaving of their own accord.
In Poland, underperformance reasons are valid grounds for dismissal. Revolut has confirmed “a small number” of its employees in Poland were dismissed for underperformance reasons.
A Krakow-based customer support agent told Wired: “I thought maybe I should speak to another institution for legal advice because I am a foreigner. [But] they said I had no additional time and that I [had] 30 minutes to make this decision.”
The Krakow office is larger than Revolut’s London headquarters, housing nearly 1,000 workers – ranging from Italian to Chilean to Indian – who deal with customer support and compliance. Revolut also has offices in Lithuania and Portugal.
Both current and former Revolut employees claim staff were “coerced” into accepting terminations, but that there were “no legal grounds to fire them”. These pressured dismissals are believed to have begun after the fintech’s salary and share exchange scheme, which saw employees encouraged to swap pay for shares in the company.
In Poland, workers say they were told they were underperforming and would be terminated if they didn’t leave voluntarily. In Portugal, mutual agreements stated 40% reductions in group’s activity, and a 30% excess in staff numbers.
Read more: Monzo cuts 120 jobs in its UK head office
In doing this, Revolut has avoided a group redundancy consultation, as well as avoiding severance payments and having to offer alternative roles within the company. Lawyers have told Wired that these actions can be read as unlawful, citing “criminal threat” and harassment” in their findings.
Now those dismissed employees who are foreign have no health insurance during a global pandemic, and though residency permits have been expanded for the time being, those from outside the European Union will eventually lose their visas.
Revolut replied to allegations of forced dismissals, saying it made just the 62 redundancies globally it announced last month, “representing less than 3%” of its staff.
“Where employees leave the business as a result of redundancy or performance we aim for this to be as painless as possible, and in every case, we fully comply with local labour requirements,” a spokesperson said.
Staff in Krakow and Porto have also said they felt pressured into the salary share swap scheme, which saw Revolut ask employees to “volunteer” their wages for twice the value in shares, which are priced at $121.4015 each.
“People are scared all the time that someone will fire them,” one HR team member at Revolut told Wired.
“I spoke with a few guys and they told me they gave away 10% [of their pay] 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’s head of support Inna Grynova told 495 customer support staff on Slack: “The success of [the] salary sacrifice scheme (SSS) depends on all of us. If it won’t be enough, unfortunately we would need to go for the other steps, which we’ll try to avoid.”
Grynova also said in this message that the initial 44 submissions she recieved for the SSS out of 495 employees was “a very small number”.
More than 60% of staff have participated in the scheme according to a company presentation from 11 May. It has saved the start-up around $900,000 each month, a figure which is intended to continue over the next 12 months.
This scheme is illegal in Portugal. Filipe Lamelas, a labour lawyer and assistant researcher at Portugal’s Collaborative Laboratory for Labour, Employment and Social Protection, tells Wired “according to Portuguese law, base salary cannot be reduced even by agreement”.
A Revolut spokesperson has acknowledged this and says the fintech is still reviewing how it can roll out a similar scheme in this jurisdiction.