Company sent wrong emails firing its entire worldwide staff

LONDON (Reuters) - All employees at investment firm Aviva Investors got a shock on Friday when the company accidentally sent an email with leaving instructions intended for one departing employee, to the entire worldwide staff of 1,300 people.

A spokesperson for Aviva put the mass firing down to a clerical error in the human resources department, saying that the e-mail should have been sent to one member of staff only. The firm’s human resources department realized its mistake and recalled the offending message 25 minutes later and soon afterwards sent out another email apologizing to staff for the error, company spokesman Paul Lockstone said.

“An email which was intended for a member of staff who was leaving today… was accidentally sent to all Aviva Investors staff worldwide,” Lockstone said.

The email was a standard message sent to people leaving the company, covering things such as handing back company equipment and confidentiality rules, and did not tell recipients they were fired, Lockstone said.

The email ordered them to hand over company property and security passes before leaving the building, and left the staff with one final line: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your services to the company all these while and wish you the best for the future. We are 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.”

Aviva, the UK biggest insurance company

This email was sent to Aviva’s worldwide staff of 1,300 people, with bases in the U.S., UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands.

Aviva Investors is the fund management arm of UK-based Aviva plc, Britain largest and the world’s sixth-largest insurance group, and manages assets of more than 262 billion pounds ($420 billion) worldwide.

This came as Aviva announced plans to downsize its investment arm in January, as a result from the squeeze of the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone. At that time, the firm said it would lay off 160 employees as part of the restructuring process.

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