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Aviva, British Insurance Company, Mistakenly Fires 1,300 Employees

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More than 1,000 employees at one British company likely had at least one unnecessary panic attack among them on Friday.

Some 1,300 workers received an email from Aviva, their employer and Britain's second-largest insurance company, telling them that they had been dismissed. But the message, which instructed the employees to return company property and keep confidential information secret, was actually only intended for one person. One really, really unfortunate person.

Though Aviva's blast e-mail was a mistake, its employees were right to be anxious in a climate where mass layoffs occur all too often. This month, Philadelphia's Frontier Virtual Charter High School dismissed all of its teachers, for example. Last month, Canada's Aveos Fleet Performance liquidated its aircraft maintenance division, leading to 2,600 workers losing their jobs.

Indeed, in America, the insurance industry experienced the ninth most planned job cuts of any industry in March, according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Similar layoff mixups have happened in the past. In 2010, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission mistakenly laid off an employee, reports. He was reinstated, but found himself battling to keep his job against another layoff candidate.

Aviva’s fake round of layoffs is also less than the actual number of job cuts announced in March by T-Mobile, which eliminated 1,900 jobs. Days later, Yahoo announced it was slashing its workforce by 2,000 in the midst of restructuring.

But public sector employees may have it worst of all, as 482,000 government employees have lost their jobs since the beginning of 2009. Despite signs that the job market could be improving with a steady decline in the unemplyoment rate over the past few months, the cuts keep coming. In March, local governments laid off 3,000 employees.

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