You're Fired!

Company accidentally fires entire staff by email

Peter Harris|

The HR department at Aviva, one of the UK’s largest insurance companies had a rough day on Friday when someone accidentally fired the entire staff. All of the over 1,300 employees in the London office received an abruptly worded email asking them to turn over their security credentials on their way out.

The email further pointed out: “I am required to remind you of your contractual obligations to the company you are leaving. You have an obligation to retain any confidential information pertaining to Aviva Investors operations, systems and clients.”

Of course the email did try to soften the blow by concluding, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future.”

Gee. Thanks.

Employees had already been on edge before being mass-fired, as the company is currently undergoing a restructuring at the top which includes some job losses.

Moments later a second email followed the termination notice letting people know that they still in fact had jobs and that the earlier message had been the result of a clerical error. The HR department then send out another follow-up email to all-staff apologizing for accidentally firing them.

Well, most of them. “It was intended that this e-mail should have gone to one single person,” said Paul Lockstone, a spokesman for Aviva. “Unfortunately, it was sent to all of the Aviva Investors staff worldwide.”

There’s no news yet on whether or not the intended recipient of the email was the only person actually fired on Friday, but we suspect the sender might have joined them in dropping off his or her security pass at the door on their way out.

Aviva is also being criticized for demonstrating so publicly the rather insensitive practice of firing people by email to begin with. It seems pretty rude, even when they do manage to send it to just the right person.  

What do you think? Is it okay for employers to let workers go by email?

Peter Harris

Category: Industry News & Insights,