State-owned BPCL, the country's third-biggest oil refiner and second-largest fuel retailer, has offered a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for its employees ahead of the government’s privatization plans. BPCL, where the government is selling its entire 52.98 percent stake, has about 20,000 employees on its rolls.
"The Corporation has decided to offer a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), with a view to enable employees, who are not in a position to continue in service of the Corporation due to various personal reasons, to request for grant of voluntary retirement from the services of the Corporation," Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) said in an internal notice to its employees.
The 'Bharat Petroleum Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2020 (BPVRS-2020)' opened on July 23 and will close on August 13.
Around 5 to 10 percent of employees are expected to opt for the scheme with Expressions of Interest (EoI) for buying BPCL due on July 31. All employees who have completed 45 years of age will be eligible for the scheme, as per a VRS notice accessed by PTI. However, it excludes active sportspersons (employees recruited as sportspersons who are yet to be deployed in the mainstream) and board-level executives.
“Employees opting for VRS would be eligible to receive a compensation payment equivalent to two months' salary for each completed year of service or the monthly salary at the time of voluntary retirement multiplied by the balance months of service left before normal date of retirement on superannuation, whichever is less," it said.
Also, repatriation expenses, as payable in case of retirement, will be paid. Employees who opt for voluntary retirement will also be eligible for medical benefits under the Post-Retirement Medical Benefits Scheme. They would further be eligible for encashment of leaves including casual, earned, and privilege leaves.
However, those opting for VRS will neither be eligible for employment in the company's joint ventures nor be engaged as retainers/consultants/advisors, any persons facing disciplinary action will not be eligible for the scheme, the notice said.
The company has a market capitalization of about ₹97,247 Cr and the government stake at current prices is worth over ₹51,500 Cr. The successful bidder will also have to make an open offer to other shareholders for acquiring another 26 percent at the acquisition price. The government of India is proposing strategic disinvestment of its entire shareholding in BPCL comprising of 114.91 crore equity shares, which constitutes 52.98 percent of BPCL's equity share capital, along with transfer of management control to a strategic buyer (except BPCL's equity shareholding of 61.65 percent in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd), the notice inviting offer said.
The privatization of BPCL is essential for meeting the record ₹2.1 lakh Cr target the finance minister has set from disinvestment proceeds in the budget for 2020-21. The VRS is an exit option for those employees who do not want to work under a private management. The scheme comes as some employees feel their role, position, or place of posting may change once BPCL is privatized. In February 2020, around 93,000 employees of state-run BSNL and MTNL opted for the voluntary retirement scheme. The scheme had been rolled out last November in order to help the two ailing telcos overcome their long salary dues and meet the daily cash flow requirements.