Accountants Hit by RBS Data Leak

Thursday, August 25, 2011 Print Email

A political storm has arisen after an email error revealed that RBS is using more than 3,000 accounting, finance and IT contractors, some of whom are on pay rates of £2,000 per day.

An employee at recruitment company Hays accidently attached the contractors’ names and payment details to an email to 800 RBS staff reminding them to fill in time sheets before the Bank Holiday, according to the Times.

In a statement, RBS said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that confidential personnel data has been shared by one of our suppliers. This is unacceptable and we are taking action to address this issue.’

The Unite union criticised the bank’s use of contractors when it has already announced plans to cut 2,000 staff jobs over the next 18 months. David Fleming, the union’s national officer, said RBS was using contractors as ‘short-term fixes’ rather than investing in the skills of its permanent staff: ‘It is wholly inappropriate that RBS, backed by taxpayers, appears to be throwing money at thousands of contractors.’

Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: ‘Many longstanding bank employees will be nonplussed at the large number of consultants at RBS because, while they’re expensive on a daily basis, they’re clearly substitutes for full-time employees.’

But James Collings deputy chairman of PCG, the largest organisation representing the UK’s freelance sector, said these comments ignored contractors’ own concerns about RBS’s breach of data confidentiality.

‘In any walk of life one expects sensitive commercial information to remain private and we are most upset that data relating to freelancers has been placed in the public domain. We appeal to all PCG members affected by this to get in touch with us and should non-members need advice we will try and help,’ Collings said.

Collings also said Unite’s comments displayed ‘a fundamental lack of understanding of the business relationship between contractors and their clients – contractors are not client’s “staff” at all and receive none of the benefits given to employees and indeed have to provide those benefits for their own staff. Unite should look after its members instead of trying to discredit, demean and degrade the freelance community’.

RBS is believed to be using a higher than usual number of contractors to assist with its preparations to wind down toxic loans and prepare non-core businesses for sale.

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