Reports surfaced Monday suggesting that Chinese internet security firm Qihoo 360 has recently laid off employees from several departments in a disguised manner.
According to the reports, an employee disclosed that the company had persuaded some staff members to quit after accusing them of clocking in and out on behalf of their colleagues. The source said that severance certificates and background checks could be affected if the staff members refused to leave. The HR department even reportedly persuaded pregnant women to leave, claiming that they would be compensated for leaving on their own initiative. The source also indicated that as the company is quite large, the layoffs involve almost all departments. The only difference is the precise number of staff laid off in each department. In addition, downsizing also involved the director and department leaders.
In response to the reports, Qihoo 360 said that the firm has discovered recent cases of a few staff members punching in and out on behalf of others during routine attendance checks. The phenomenon was allegedly confirmed through various multi-channel verification methods. Firm representatives categorized the “fake punching” as cheating, adding that such behavior severely violates the company’s regulations and values. Therefore, Qihoo 360 claimed it is handling the matter in accordance with the law, and that there is no such thing as “disguised layoffs” or forcible dismissal of pregnant staff.
Qihoo 360, founded in 2005, focuses on free internet security services and has released products such as 360 Security Guard, 360 Mobile Security and 360 Security Browser. In January, 2022, the company estimated net profit attributable to shareholders to be about 823 million yuan to 991 million yuan ($129 million-$156 million), a decrease of about 65.98%-71.75% year-on-year.
Ever since the beginning of this year, many leading Chinese internet companies have grappled with reports of mass internal layoffs, including Didi, JD.com, Alibaba, and Tencent. One recent example was the granting of “graduation notices” – in effect, termination letters – to employees at domestic e-commerce giant JD.com. The letter included information on how to handle the social security funds, personnel files, and other items after leaving, as well as application for background checks and the issuance of severance certificates, triggering heated online discussions.