Aviva mistakenly sacks 1,300 employees by email

Summary:UK insurance giant Aviva mistakenly sacks 1,300 of its employees in a rogue email. The email was only meant to go to one employee. Wait, people are still being sacked by email?

"Most insurance companies see policies. At Aviva, we see people." One of the world's largest insurers clearly doesn't "see people" if it's going to fire a massive chunk of its business by email.

Aviva accidentally sent an email to 1,300 global employees in its investment unit, telling them they were out on the street. Aviva only meant for one of those emails to go through.

Nothing changed, however, as they all kept their jobs. Sandra in accounting only got a minor bump on the head when she hit the corner of the desk whilst fainting, but James in recruitment might need to work harder to keep his job after he left a certain surprise something on his boss' desk.

ZDNet's David Gewirtz, part mad scientist, part celebrity author, and part shadowy government advisor, describes it as a "jerk move" for sacking someone over email.

I agree.

In an age of lacking inter-personal relations and working from home, it should come as no surprise to learn that many employees do still get the boot by email.

But there is no excuse for Aviva in this case, however, as despite its decentralised nature, someone surely could have approached the soon-to-be former employee. Under European employment and labour laws, one can't just sack someone for the living hell of it. There are processes, procedures --- and ultimately tribunals --- for when it goes does go wrong.

Still, a jerk move is a jerk move. Aviva, with all its wealth, importance, and 'modern attitude' to its workforce, should never have sacked someone by email.

But I think it shows that most news agencies that have reported the email screw-up are more focused on the poor former employee getting canned by email, than the 1,299 other employees who had a moment of panic but within minutes were subdued by a reneging email.

Aviva, amongst many, are not the only jerks in the industry for doing this. If an employee worked on the other side of the United States, or even across the Atlantic, the very least a manager can do is pick up the phone. It's picking up a phone, for goodness sakes. It's more personal, cheaper, and no matter how angry one is at another person, they could still end up one day being your boss years down the line.

Still, at the least the employee wasn't taken round the back of the sheds and shot like an injured farm animal. "Mr. Brightside" they call me.

Image credit: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET.

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About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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