BNP Paribas cuts IT contractor pay rates

BNP Paribas (BNP) is threatening its entire temporary IT workforce with termination unless they agree to do the same work for less money.

The French bank told IT contractors across its UK and global operations they could only keep their contract with the firm if their daily rates reduce by at least four per cent.

Enforceable from early July, the ‘take it or leave’ pay cut has “practically wiped out” some IT contractor teams in Paris, a source said, where the bank is headquartered.

But speaking to ContractorUK yesterday from the French capital, a BNP spokesman declined to be drawn on the rate cut, which the bank blames on “external market conditions”.

“Following a due diligence process”, adds an internal memo sent to BNP’s IT contractors, “a decision has been taken to reduce spend on contractor workers within IT.

“We would like to assure you that this initiative bears no reflection on the skills or the services that have been provided to BNP Paribas.”  

The bank’s rate cut comes in the same week that it was fined almost £1m by Hong Kong’s securities regulator for failing to report so-called ‘cross trades’ over a 10-year period.

BNP was also fined in July 2014 – for a record £5.1bn – by US authorities for breaking American sanctions against trade with Sudan, Iran and Cuba.    

But there is no evidence of either penalty against the bank relating to its move to cut IT contractor pay by a minimum of 4%; a figure which smacks of a market alignment.

Moreover, BNP is not usually afraid to slash IT contractor pay – it did so in the grip of the financial crisis in 2008, and it cut daily rates again in 2011 by a non-negotiable 15%.

BNP’s current IT contractor rate cut is also being presented as without exemptions, yet some IT contractors in the UK claim they are using it to secure flexible working arrangements with the bank.

Others are walking. “[Four per cent is] not as bad as some [rates are being reduced by here at BNP Paribas], and they gave me a month’s notice, but I don't like being bullied… [so] bye.”

Elaborating on his intention to reply 'non-acceptance' to his line manager, which will trigger his termination, the IT contractor at a BNP London office said the cut equated to him working for the bank for roughly two weeks free of charge.

“[But] I expect that the majority of contractors will take it on the chin,” he said, referring to decision-day this Friday (June 5th).

“Though BNP may regret terminating contracts before the summer lull when many hiring managers will be going on holiday, as those [IT contractors] more confident in their demand will just walk.”

David Ward, a director of IT jobs agency SQ Computer Personnel, agrees that IT contractors voting with their feet is now a real prospect that BNP must face, even if not immediately.

He told CUK last night: “Of those IT contractors affected by the [only] reduction [our agency has experienced in the last 12 months], about 15% chose to not accept it and took on assignments with other organisations.

“IT contractors are free to operate in an open labour market and while income isn’t the only driver it is a significant influencer. Enforcing ‘take it or leave’ rate cuts mid-contract in most instances will cause contractors to look at the market and see what other options are available”.

Editor's Note: Related Reading -

Royal Dutch Shell cuts IT contractor pay rates

BP reduces IT contractor pay rates by 15%

Bogus earl is 'delusional' IT consultant

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Sign up to our Weekly Newsletter

Keep up to date with everything in the world of contracting.


Contractor's Question

If you have a question about contracting please feel free to ask us!

Ask a question