Air India on Tuesday began the process of sending some under-performing employees on compulsory leave without pay for up to a period of five years, PTI reported on Wednesday. The airline’s board of directors has authorised Chairperson Rajiv Bansal to send employees on leave for a period ranging from six months to two years, which may be extended to five years, an official order said.

When picking employees who will be sent on leave without pay, the airline management will consider factors such as the individual’s efficiency, competence, quality of performance, health, instances in the past when the person has been unavailable for duty because of ill health and whether the role is redundant, the order said.

The departmental heads in the Air India headquarters in New Delhi and regional directors will assess each employee to determine who can be sent on compulsory leave.

“Names of such employees need to be forwarded to the General Manager (Personnel) in headquarters for obtaining necessary approval of CMD [chairperson and managing director],” the order said. An Air India spokesperson told PTI he did not want to comment on the matter.

Air India has more than 13,000 permanent employees, giving it a monthly wage bill of over Rs 230 crore, The Times of India reported. The airline, which has been going through a financial crisis, has been further hit due to coronavirus-induced restrictions. The Indian government had banned all flights, domestic and international, in March. Only some domestic flights were restarted on May 25.

Private airlines such as GoAir have put most of their employees on compulsory leave since April, PTI reported. Other airlines have also tried to cut costs by sending employees on leave without pay. Some have even sacked staff.