UK workers said they were ‘blindsided’ by the Swedish company’s announcement
Sacked staff have condemned the buy now pay later (BNPL) firm Klarna for its disorderly handling of job cuts, including in the UK, and challenged the chief executive’s decision to disclose a list of sacked staff who are now scrambling for employment.
UK employees hit by the cuts told reporters they felt “blindsided” by the Swedish firm’s announcement last week, when its co-founder and boss Sebastian Siemiatkowski disclosed it would be dismissing more than 700 of its 7,000-plus global staff, including some employed just weeks earlier.
Klarna, which is the major buy now pay later (BNPL) provider in the UK with 17 million customers, has placed the blame for the cuts on an expected drop in consumer spending, prompted by soaring inflation and fears over an economic recession linked to the Ukraine war.
Siemiatkowski provoked further controversy on May 31 by posting a list of fired staff on LinkedIn. Over 560 staff, including about 27 from the UK, had deliberately added their names to the list, which was made by a fellow employee to help the unemployed co-workers secure new jobs.
The chief executive wrote in the post that he had “mixed feelings” about the document:
“While it symbolizes much of what I am proud of among Klarna’s employees, it is also a tangible symbol of a very hard decision that saddens me deeply and will stay with me for a long period of time. If your company is lucky enough to recruit one of these fantastic people, I can assure you that it will be one of your biggest wins this year.”
However, commentators on LinkedIn condemned the chief executive’s post, saying it was “tone deaf”, while another said the creation of the list was “a clear sign of how poorly managed this ‘change’ has been implemented that has forced people to desperately post their contact details”.
“People can see through the bullshit,” one ex-staffer told reporters, while another said most of the staff had been “blindsided” by the job losses, which followed a hiring spree that grew the company’s global headcount from 5,000 at the beginning of 2022 to more than 7,000.
Sacked employees said the company was controversially giving more than twice the pay to sacked US staff than its European and UK staff. However, they tried to raise severance offers following an internal backlash – for instance, by letting staff keep phones and laptops if they covered related tax.
One former employee called the process chaotic. “Seems they make it up as they go,” they said.
Several affected staff had been hired just weeks or months earlier and said there was no feeling that their jobs were at risk. They said Klarna had enlarged its office space in London, issued Uber Eats vouchers to staff, and flown new staff to Stockholm for all-expenses-paid induction programs that could have been held online.
One person said:
“The announcement came out of the blue but if I paid a bit more attention, could see it coming.”
Former employees also blamed the chief executive for using anti-union rhetoric, with Siemiatkowski having informed workers last week that “the silent majority” wished to deal directly with the company, instead of a union representative, when negotiating their termination terms. He also rebuked staff for voicing their grievances about the process to the media.
A sacked UK staffer said:
“I’ll probably be financially fine, but it’s people who moved to Sweden or the UK, brought their kids here, are on work visas, and been here for a month or a few weeks before their jobs were cut. Now they only have a few months to get sponsored elsewhere … it’s pretty brutal for them to be honest.”