State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has notified its Voluntary Retirement Scheme and has asked its circle heads to circulate the guidelines to facilitate the exercise of option by its employees.
In a communication to its circle heads, the BSNL said: "In pursuance to the decision of the Union Cabinet and conveyed by Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2019 is being circulated to all concerned and invites options from employees eligible under the scheme for seeking voluntary retirement as per the provision of the scheme.
"Options seeking voluntary retirement under the scheme shall remain open from November 4 up to December 3 and the effective date of voluntary retirement under this scheme will be January 31, 2020," it said.
The BSNL has also instructed the chief of circles "to give wide publicity to the scheme to enable all the eligible employees to take an informed decision and exercise the option for VRS within the prescribed time period".
The circles are to conduct open house sessions to provide maximum information about the scheme to help the employees make informed decisions. Billboards are also to be arranged for highlighting the salient features of the scheme.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently asked BSNL to start a dialogue with its employees on the VRS and suggested pitching it well for better response.
"BSNL's revival depends upon the successful implementation of the VRS. Accountability will be fixed from the top, if the revival plan is not implemented in its true spirit," highly placed sources had told IANS.
The success of the VRS is critical to the survival of BSNL, whose 1.75 lakh strong work force consumes 75 per cent of the company's revenues in wages. The telco has been making losses for the last 10 years and posted an estimated loss of Rs 14,300 crore in 2018-19.
Under the VRS, employees above the age of 53.5 years will get 125 per cent of their salary, which they could have earned in the balance period of their service. Employees between 50 and 53.5 years opting for the VRS will get benefit in the range of 80 to 100 per cent of the remuneration to be paid in the balance period of their service. For employees currently above 55 years of age, on opting for VRS, the pension will be commuted only when they attain 60 years of age (the current retirement age). For the employees, currently of age 55 years and less, on opting for VRS, the pension will be commuted in the sixth year 2024-25.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) too has rolled out a VRS for its employees. The scheme, based on Gujarat Model of VRS, will be open for employees till December 3, 2019.
In a notice issued by MTNL to employees recently, it mentioned that "all regular and permanent employees of 50 years and above as on January 31, 2020" are eligible to opt for the scheme.
The government last month had approved a ₹69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL that includes merging the two loss-making firms, monetising their assets and giving VRS to employees so that the combined entity turns profitable in two years.
The Union Cabinet has approved the plan to combine MTNL - which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi - with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) that services the rest of the nation.
The rescue package approved includes infusion of ₹20,140 crore for purchase of 4G spectrum, ₹3,674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising ₹15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and government funding ₹17,160 crore VRS and another ₹12,768 crore towards retirement liability.