Campaigning For Fair Treatment At Work

Advice, All Members

Affinity has successfully concluded a longstanding campaign in the financial services industry to improve the working lives of people who work for employers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Members mostly see the individual advice and representation work we do, but this newsletter illustrates the wider campaigning we undertake for our members.

The Issue

Members who work in the financial services industry are expected to meet certain standards of conduct by the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); these are referred to as Conduct Rules. If an employer believes that someone has breached the FCA’s Conduct Rules, the employer is expected that to the FCA. A decision to report someone to the FCA for an alleged Conduct Rule breach can have very serious, long-term implications for that person’s regulated career. Indeed, it is often career-ending.

At the end of last year, we wrote to the FCA to present a significant body of evidence we’d gathered which showed inherent unfairness in the application of the FCA’s Conduct Rules amongst regulated employers.

We made clear that many Senior Managers:

  1. Had failed to put in place satisfactory policies and procedures for determining breaches of the Conduct Rules.

  2. Where policies had been put in place, they had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure there were appropriate procedures governing the above matters and/or failed to implement such procedures effectively and fairly. 

  3. Had delegated critical decisions to junior staff who clearly lacked the competence, knowledge, seniority or skill to deal with such decisions.
  4. Had failed to provide sufficient training on Conduct Rules to employees.

We called on the FCA to ensure that regulated employers within the financial services industry:

  • Act fairly and transparently when considering potential Conduct Rule breaches.
  • Institute policies and procedures which ensure consistency of decision making.
  • Give proper consideration at a senior level to whether a matter actually warrants a referral to the FCA.
  • Give employees mechanisms to appeal to truly independent parties.
  • Train genuinely senior managers on how to evaluate potential conduct rule breaches, rather than leaving it to inexperienced people or compliance staff to make decisions.
  • Review cases at senior levels, where employees have demonstrable competence, rather than allowing junior staff to make final, career-ending decisions.

FCA Response

In response to our campaign, the FCA confirmed its expectations, emphasising the importance of transparent application of the Conduct Rules and the need for employers to institute fair processes. The FCA’s clarification of its expectation, in response to our campaign, is a major step forward in ensuring staff are treated fairly. Where employers fail to treat our members fairly, in accordance with the FCA’s expectations, we will report matters directly to the FCA.

Why Is This Relevant To You?

You may be wondering why this is relevant to you, if you don’t work in financial services. Our campaign is an important illustration of the work we do to address unfairnesses at work for our members. Whilst a significant amount of our work involves individual representation, we also campaign on wider issues to bring about change where it’s needed.

For example, we are in the middle of a major campaign to improve the working lives of members in the betting industry where staff are routinely subject to violence, threatening behaviour and verbal and physical abuse, whist working very long hours, often for low rates of pay.

If you think there’s a problem in your industry that needs to be investigated further, please do contact us here.

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