Royal Bank of Scotland’s treatment of employees makes no sense

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) has warned its UK staff that they must have their primary bank account with the firm or face disciplinary action. BBC

One of the funnier jokes in Scott Adam’s Dilbert Books is the suggestion that employees (of particularly poor employers) be forced to only buy that company’s products. Of course, under the Truck Acts forcing emplyees to purchase from the company store has been illegal since 1725.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision, therefore, to force employees to have an RBS account to receive their salaries sails perilously close to the wind. Union Amicus is playing its cards close to its chest — which is probably the right thing to do — but a battle is certainly looming.

From a human rights perspective, RBS’s action is troubling. But from a business perspective, it makes no sense whatsoever. Bank customers are becoming increasingly concerned over the ethicality of banks. Corporate Social Responsibility is the most important new trend in Public Relations, as reported through PR Week, and it is already the main selling point of RBS competitor the Co-op bank. What’s worse, there is something faintly ludicrous — truly Dilbertesque — about a prestigious bank requiring its employees to buy its product.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s defence is that this is a typical practice followed by US Business. For a bank that prides itself on its own distinctive nationality, this is perhaps the strangest twist of all.

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