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Take a UK contract or leave, BNP tells London staff


Expat traders working for BNP Paribas in London have been told they have four weeks to decide if they want to exchange their French contracts for British ones – giving up many benefits in the process – or else return to France.


French employees working in London for one of the world’s largest banks, BNP Paribas, have been told they must switch to a local employment contract – or else pack their bags and return home.

The bank, headquartered in Paris, has given some 150 London-based traders four weeks to respond to the ultimatum, reports French daily Le Monde.

If they refuse to sign a British contract, they will have 15 days to return to Paris and await reassignment.

However, those affected are likely to be reluctant to give up the perks and privileges that come with a French, as opposed to a British, employment contract.

Until now, many of BNP’s expat traders in London, some of whom have been in the UK capital for ten years or more, have enjoyed the famously generous holiday allowances and benefits familiar to many French workers.

“We will lose an important part of our compensation as our benchmark salary in France has not risen since we left,” one of the employees affected told Le Monde. “Above all, we’re well aware that there are no equivalent positions for us in Paris,” they added.

Fairer treatment

France’s largest bank insists it is merely implementing fairer treatment for its London staff, with 400 of its French traders in the UK capital already on local contracts and therefore not enjoying the same benefits as those contracted in France, despite doing largely the same job.

“We are only applying the rules that are already in place across most of our competitors,” the bank commented.

There are also fears that the move is designed to make it easier and cheaper for BNP to reduce its London workforce if necessary, thanks to Britain’s more flexible labour laws.

However, the bank insists it has “no plans for redundancies”, despite the company axing 1,400 jobs in 2012 as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

BNP has suffered tough times of late as it feels the effects of Europe’s economic crisis. Last month it revealed earnings slumped 45 percent in the first quarter amid a steep drop in corporate and investment banking.

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