Hays has accidentally emailed to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) staff the full pay details of 3,000 contractors at the bank.

The data may come as an embarrassment to RBS, even though the email is not its fault, because it shows the taxpayer-owned bank has been paying contractors up to £2,000 a day. The news comes less than a year after RBS announced it was cutting thousands of IT and back office jobs.

The email was sent by a Hays contractor in error to 800 full time RBS staff. Hays said that while pay rates were revealed, no banking data was included.

The recruitment firm today expressed regret over the incident and said it was taking the matter “extremely seriously”.  It added: “We are working with RBS to recover the data from recipients where possible.”

An RBS spokesperson said the bank was “extremely disappointed” at the data release.

Trade unions also reacted angrily to the news. Unite said it had “serious concerns about the widespread use of highly paid staff on short term contracts” at a time of large redundancies at the bank.