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OFF BEAT: Aviva unit mistakenly fires 1,300 in email gaffe


A London insurance company last week emailed pink slips to its entire staff before retracting the statement.

Aviva Investors, the fund management unit of London-based Aviva P.L.C., on Friday mistakenly emailed departing instructions to 1,300 employees that were intended for only one employee, according to new reports.

Aviva’s human resource department 25 minutes later retracted the email and soon afterwards sent another email apologizing for the error, company spokesman Paul Lockstone said in news reports.

“It was intended that this email should have gone to one single person,” Mr. Lockstone said in a media report. “Unfortunately, as a result of a clerical error, it was sent to all of the Investors staff worldwide.”

The offending email is part of the company’s standard process when people depart from the organization, which covers how to return company equipment and confidentiality rules.

“People were pretty quickly aware of the fact that this was a mistake,” Mr. Lockstone said. “I don’t believe any of our staff would have seen it really as anything other than the mistake that it was.”

The rude awakening on employees was not unfounded. According to news statements, Aviva Investors said in January that it would be shedding 160 jobs, nearly 12% of its workforce worldwide.