Valerie Bond
Posted on 27 Oct 2020

The FCA Updates its Whistleblowing Guidance

The Financial Conduct Authority ('FCA') has updated some of its whistleblowing guidance pages. This article provides a summary of the updates and gives reminders as to how to ensure that, if your company is regulated by the FCA, it has the correct whistleblowing policies and procedures in place.

Speaking to the FCA about Whistleblowing

The FCA has published a new webpage, which sets out how it protects whistleblowers' identities, the situations in which individuals should speak to the FCA and how the FCA will utilise whistleblowers' information.

The page also sets out details as to how consumers or shareholders, as well as employees, can raise concerns.

Legal advice

The FCA has updated its webpage on legal advice, which sets out the protection available for whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. This means that they may be eligible for a remedy if they have suffered a detriment or are dismissed as a result of blowing the whistle in the public interest. This is enforceable through an Employment Tribunal.

If whistleblowing is the reason for an individual's dismissal, then the dismissal will be regarded as automatically unfair. This means that, as well as being eligible for the usual unfair dismissal remedies, such as reinstatement, basic and compensatory awards, individuals whose dismissal is automatically unfair can be eligible for interim relief. Interim relief can include an order to continue paying the individual's salary pending the final hearing and so can be far more costly than other claims.

How to make a report

This is a new webpage, which explains the process of raising concerns to the FCA's whistleblowing team.

The FCA guidance sets out that, before raising a concern to the FCA, whistleblowers should first consider raising concerns with their employer. Therefore, it is therefore important that companies have adequate whistleblowing policies and procedures in place to ensure that whistleblowers are protected and that no one is discouraged from raising concerns. If a sufficient policy is in place then companies  may be able to deal with any concerns, without it being escalated to the FCA.

Case Studies

The FCA has published a new webpage which sets out case studies on typical incidents the FCA may handle and how.

Whistleblowing reports can be made for:

  • Money laundering
  • Mis-selling
  • Fitness and proprietary
  • Systems and controls
  • Unauthorised business.

The case studies cover different causes for complaints being made and what happens in each situation.

Points to Note for Employers

There is no legal obligation on employers to implement a whistleblowing policy. However, a whistleblowing policy can help encourage a culture where concerns are reported internally at an early stage. This also make it easier to address concerns before they become more serious breaches and risk causing reputational damage.

By ensuring that there is an effective whistleblowing policy in place, individuals can also be reassured that there will be no reprisals for raising concerns. With concerns being raised early on and effectively managed by the company, this also reduces the risk of an individual raising concerns externally to organisations such as the FCA or even the press.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please contact Valerie Bond to discuss any issues you are facing.