Cheil India comes under criticism for allegedly asking employees to work from office; says it's been working from home since April 2021
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Agency denies allegations
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Cheil India comes under criticism for allegedly asking employees to work from office; says it's been working from home since April 2021

Agency denies allegations
  • After Cheil India came under criticism for allegedly asking its employees to work from office in the midst of the pandemic, the agency denied the allegations.
  • In its official statement, the agency said that its employees have been working from home since April 2021.
For the last few weeks, our social media timelines and TV screens have been flooded with heartrending scenes from what is happening across the country. We have seen people struggling to find hospital beds, oxygen and have seen so many people lose their near and dear ones.

In fact, the virus has attacked us with such brute force in this second wave that almost everyone seems to have lost family and friends.

At such a time, advertising agency Cheil India has come under criticism for allegedly asking its employees to work from office in the midst of this raging pandemic. In a post shared by Rahul Bhatnagar, an ex-employee of Cheil India, he mentions, “Despite repetitive requests and implores, my ex-agency decides to keep its offices open during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing and threatening its employees to come to office.”

While Bhatnagar didn’t mention the agency, a few people tagged Cheil India in the comments.


We reached out to Cheil India and it denied the allegations. The agency said that its employees have been working from home since the beginning of April 2021.

Replying to an email query, the agency said, “India’s Covid crisis has been beyond heartbreaking. No company was immune to ravage of Covid. We recently lost two of our employees to Covid. It has been a very tragic and unfortunate time for all of us but we have been standing by our employees all throughout. Amid this tough time, we are working round the clock to provide necessary medical aid and support the mental wellbeing of our people.

Cheil India has been following all government protocols and safety guidelines since the onset of Pandemic last year. We started with 10% capacity last year. We have constantly been amending our Work from Office policies and ensuring complete safety of all our employees at workplace. From weekly tests for all our employees to maintaining complete social distancing, from sanitization of our office on regular intervals to following all safety and hygiene measures, we were adhering to all the government laid guidelines. We were operating at 40-45% capacity in January 2021 and completely shifted to Work from Home model beginning April 2021. For us, our employees are our priority.”

For the last few weeks, India has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 infections with the country seeing over 3 lakh fresh cases of Covid-19 daily. On April 15th, India had registered 2,16,642 new COVID-19 cases and Maharashtra had reported 61,695 infections, accounting for nearly 31% of new cases and Delhi followed with 16,699 cases. On April 13th, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had imposed section 144 in the state and had announced that all establishments should be shut down, except for essentials. A curfew was announced in Delhi on April 15th.

As per a Cheil employee’s comment on Bhatnagar’s post, the agency was working from their office till April 16. He said that Cheil was working last year in May when the entire country observed a lockdown.

“Could have been easily done from home but no...After running the show since May 6th, 2020 from their swanky gurgaon office, yes the office was open last year too when the world was home...their confidence was oozing....when india was peaking at 2 lakh cases per day, a creative guy was admitted in a hospital, a planner severely afflicted others and a few more started taking leaves for covid symptoms. Cheil went on working from office till 16th of april. Only if they had shut a week early. Just a week keeping their massive egos aside. Only if they didn’t put lives before business. It’s sad, just sad how many families and there are many that are going through distress and pain right now,” wrote the employee.

Vanddana Bhalla, Business Service Director at McCann Worldwide Group, blamed the client. She commented on the post, saying, “This problem comes from Samsung Electronics. They forced Cheil and further teams to come to work. Both are equally responsible. We have lost two great people.”

Another ex-employee called working with Cheil India a mistake. She said, “Cheil India is one of my mistakes too. Their employees are just numbers to them who should not have any self-respect or personality to stand up against the bullshit they put you through.”

Nikhil Narayan, Creative Director at Ogilvy, took to LinkedIn to dedicate a song to the two employees who lost their lives to COVID, reminding all agencies that empathy is the need of the hour.


We're all living in constant fear that someone close to us might contract the virus. People are either mourning someone’s loss or dealing with the anxiety that they might have to, soon. So, deadlines can wait! We need more empathy, compassion, and unity to survive this pandemic. Here’s hoping that more agencies don’t repeat these mistakes.