Updated Giant Pay – an umbrella company used by contractors across the UK – has confirmed "suspicious activity" on its platform is behind a days-long ongoing outage that has left folk fretting about whether they'll get paid this month.
In an update on its website today, the firm said: "Upon detection of suspicious activity on our network on 22nd September 2021, we immediately assembled a response team including IT data experts and specialist lawyers, and we are currently working with the highest priority to resolve this issue.
"As part of the investigation and as a measure of caution, we have proactively taken our systems offline and suspended all services temporarily." It also confirmed it had contacted regulatory authorities and assured contractors they would get paid.
"As an interim measure, and to ensure that payment is made to your account on 24 September, we will pay you the same amount that was paid to you last week. This will be paid via Faster Pay and will be in your account by the end of the day. As soon as possible, we will confirm that your payroll is back to normal. We appreciate that this is not ideal, but we wanted to ensure that you receive a payment."
A number of employees – including tech contractors – have contacted The Register fuming at the lack of information from the company in recent days and its failure to respond to emails.
Giant Umbrella has been down "since Tuesday and are failing to pay contractors wages. No phone, no emails and they are failing to respond to webchats," said one, adding: "It’s lucky UK gov didn’t force most contractors to go inside IR35 and need umbrella services. How many contractors have been hit by this and what can they do to get paid?"
Another Reg reader added that the umbrella company had clearly had "some kind of major outage this week which is affecting a lot of IT contract staff."
Giant Umbrella is a subsidiary of Giant Group PLC, and claims its "long-term clients – since 1992 and ongoing – include Page Group and Barclays Bank."
Until UK lunchtime today, a notice on its portal simply stated: "Portal Downtime. We are experiencing technical difficulties and are working to get them resolved as quickly as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."
Angry contractors had taken to Twitter.
A post by someone on Giant Umbrella's Trustpilot page this morning said they had contacted the CFO via LinkedIn, who claimed they're "working to get everyone paid today and will be getting communications out shortly."
However, none of this was confirmed as no one from the company had replied to requests for information. But what little people knew has not gone down well with contractors who rely on Giant Pay for their payroll.
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Another said: "Extremely concerned. Their portal has been down all week with no communication. The contact number does not work and I have not been paid! I have been forced to use [an] umbrella service because [of] IR35 and this is a direct consequence. Just not good enough."
A third reported that the organisation where they work has more than a hundred contractors, lamenting: "We haven't been paid, with no prior notification..."
With tempers boiling over, this tweet posted this morning summed up the frustration felt by many:
@giantpay1 How much longer are your systems for contractors going to be down? No portal log-in, no telephone lines working, no response to emails? And more importantly, no payroll!? Any information you can give me would be appreciated.— James (@Cockney_Villa) September 24, 2021
Despite repeated attempts to contact the company, no one from Giant Pay was available for comment at the time of writing. ®
Updated to add on 27 September 2021:
We have asked a few of Giant Pay clients for comment. Recruitment outfit PageGroup said of the outage:
"We are aware of an issue with our third party payroll supplier and are working with them to investigate what, if any, PageGroup data is involved.
"We have taken action directly to ensure payments have been made today, and emails were sent out to those affected this morning regarding next steps.
"We will continue to work with Giant Pay to investigate and will provide updates with further information as soon as we can."