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Hays Discloses RBS Pay Deals

Hays Discloses RBS Pay Deals

The recruitment specialist Hays is at the centre of an embarrassing gaffe today after one of its employees distributed an email disclosing the remuneration of thousands of contractors working for the state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

I have learnt that a Hays employee yesterday inadvertently forwarded a message showing the pay of about 3000 contract staff working for RBS in disciplines such as human resources and risk management to approximately 800 of those contractors.

It threatens to become one of the more humiliating corporate email mishaps of recent years - for both Hays and RBS.

For Hays, which has launched an investigation into how the incident occurred, the episode raises questions about its security processes.

For RBS, which was blameless in the distribution of the email, it may also have awkward repercussions since I am told that the data showed that some of its contract staff are paid as much as &pound2000 a day. That's a mind-boggling sum for a bank which is more than 80 per cent-owned by the UK taxpayer and is likely to prompt difficult questions about its cost-base at a time when it is cutting thousands of jobs.

It's not clear whether RBS intends to seek compensation from or to alter the terms of its contract with Hays, which is due to report its full-year results next week.

Hays insisted that the incident did not give rise to any concerns about identity theft since no bank account or national insurance details were included in the errant email.

In a statement issued to me just now, a spokesman for Hays said:

"Hays plc confirms that yesterday some data relating to a number of temporary workers and contractors working for the Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) was inadvertently released in an email attachment to a number of Hays' temporary workers and contractors. The data included the roles and the pay rates of certain contractors, but did not include any bank account details or national insurance numbers."

" Hays recognises that the correct treatment of data is of the utmost importance and we are taking the unauthorised release of this data extremely seriously. We are working with RBS to recover the data from recipients where possible. Recipients of the data are also subject to confidentiality obligations to both RBS and Hays. Hays has launched an internal investigation to understand fully the circumstances that led to this unauthorised release of information and to review its procedures to ensure it cannot happen again."

An RBS spokesman said:

"We can confirm that confidential personnel data has inadvertently been shared by a contractor working with the Group. No customer information has been compromised."

The episode is potentially damaging to the reputation of Hays, which employs more than 7000 people, although the history of such corporate cock-ups suggests that tackling it head-on in an effort to prevent a repetition is a far more sensible way of confronting it than the approach of some chief executives: laughing it off and pretending it never happened.

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