Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/25/nu_lay_offs_investigation/

Norwich Union probes IT staff lay-offs

Was procedure followed?

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in CIO, 25th August 2005 13:57 GMT

Norwich Union is investigating allegations that company policy on the handling of redundancies was not followed when IT staff in Bristol were given their marching orders.

The company, part of the Aviva Group, embarked on a significant program of restructuring following Aviva's acquisition of the RAC motoring group earlier this year. In total, 1,700 jobs are likely to go at the RAC and Norwich Union, with 15 of these being IT support staff at the Bristol and Feltham sites.

Redundancies are never happy news, but word reached El Reg that things were not handled terribly delicately in Bristol. According to our source, IT staff were called into a meeting to discuss how the restructuring would affect them, only to discover that it affected some of them rather more directly that they anticipated.

During the meeting, the new team structures were displayed in a power point presentation, and staff whose names did not appear on the list, our source tells us, were told that they were the unlucky ones who no longer had jobs:

"Imagine the pure joy that raced through people's hearts as the manager read out lists in front of everyone," our secret squirrel says. "Imagine the amount of people who were genuinely upset at no longer having a job and finding out in this way."

A spokesman for the insurer told us that company policy on handling lay-offs is very strict, and that the scenario above should never have happened.

"Employees should be notified in private by their line managers ahead of any public announcement. It is our policy to manage these things as considerately and professionally as possible," he said.

However, he conceded that it is possible that procedure was not followed correctly, and confirmed that the company's HR team was investigating.

"We take this allegation very seriously," the spokesman concluded.

The news comes a little more than a week after Amicus, the union representing the redundant employees, accused Norwich Union of failing to consult over the job losses - some 345 - caused by the closure of two of its call centres.

On this question, Norwich Union says the consultation period began when it informed its employees that it would be closing the centres, but conceded that the redundancies would largely be compulsory.®