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The seemingly outrageous pre- Christmas email allegedly sent by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to its contractors in London


We are in receipt of an email allegedly sent by BAML to its contract and temporary staff. The communication is produced in its entirety below.

Two questions spring to mind:

–         Is this normal?

–         Is this legal?

The email is below. We have bolded sections as appropriate. Jane Mann, head of employment law at law firm Fox Williams, says this kind of thing is entirely legal as long as provisions for it are made in temporary workers’ contracts. By applying it to all contractors, she says banks are able to avoid discrimination claims.

Dear Contractor,

Following a recent business wide review, driven by the current economic climate, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has taken the decision to apply a market correction to contractor and temporary worker pay rates.

This adjustment is not a reflection of the quality or value of your contributions to date, but a response to current market events and our client’s continued focus on cost management.

As a result, this letter is formal notification of a rate change to your contract for services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

You will remain on your current rate until 30 December 2011. Effective 31 December 2011, your pay rate will change to £xx per Day.  This represents a 10% reduction to your current rate.

Action Required

To confirm that you accept the amended contract between yourself and Hays Specialist Recruitment, please email mltempdesk@ml.com by 5pm on Thursday, 15 December.

A new contract effective from 31 December will be generated upon receipt of your acceptance.

Should you choose to decline these revised terms, please confirm your non-acceptance by 5pm on Thursday, 15 December 2011 via email to mltempdesk@ml.com, or in writing to the above address. If you choose not to accept this change to your current terms and conditions, your assignment at Bank of America Merrill Lynch will terminate on 30 December 2011.

Failure to respond by 5pm on Thursday, 15 December will also be deemed to be non-acceptance and will result in your assignment at Bank of America Merrill Lynch terminating on 30 December 2011.

Please direct all questions relating to the above to your agency. Your Bank of America Merrill Lynch assignment manager is aware of the details of this communication.

Yours sincerely

Hays MLTemp Desk

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Comments (8)

  1. Lloyds did the same a couple of months ago.

  2. I was a contractor at BAML and received one of those emails at 3pm Friday just gone. Trouble is, it was my last day at BAML as they had already decided to cancel my contract before it had even expired (due to expire Dec 31).

    Happy Christmas all round

  3. Hays have a history of doing this. I received a similar notice from them, albeit via my recruitment agent, whilst on contract at RBS earlier this year.

    Same thing happened a couple of years ago at Northern Trust, during the Lehman collapse.

  4. M&S did this to all contractors in 2008. Contract was effectively terminated and we were given the option to be rehired at a rate 10% lower than the original contract. No warning from the agency – just an e-mail. Nice! Remember it’s a 10% rededuction on what the agency charge you out at to the Company concerned so you could negotiate with your agency to take a cut on their commission so the overall saving is achived but your day rate reduced by a smaller amount. Depends how long you’ve been there, how specialised your skills are etc but worth a shot.

  5. I got one of these but we really are over a barrel – not much option but to sign on the dotted line – little enthusiasm for any strike action !

  6. Your contract should specify the conditions under which it can be varied or cancelled, including the notice periods required. You should be able to hold any signatory to those terms, but at the same time, you can’t expect to get anything more than that. Ultimately, as a contractor you have to accept some risk of this sort of thing. If you can’t you should seek the greater security of a permanent role.

  7. this has happened at Barcap and DB as well, and i wouldnt be surprised if it had happened at others. contract rates are too high anyway, so this correction is fair enouhg IMO. and the market for contract roles is almost as bad as for perm roles so we have not seen many instances of contractors not accepting the new terms.

  8. Just like mercenaries, we work for the highest bidder.

    I hv had firms reduce my rates but they do appreciate that its a two way street and I will leave if when i want.

    Some may say we are like prostitutes but putting food on the table and paying for a mortgage is far more important than the thoughts of self proclaimed moral kings.

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