The FCA and the PRA have both published policy statements on their new rules on whistleblowing:
- FCA policy statement (PS15/24) entitled "Whistleblowing in deposit-takers, PRA-designated investment firms and insurers"; and
- PRA policy statement (PS24/15), also entitled "Whistleblowing in deposit-takers, PRA-designated investment firms and insurers" (Appendix 1, Appendix 2, Appendix 3) and accompanied by a supervisory statement (SS39/15).
The rules follow recommendations in 2013 by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that banks put in place mechanisms to allow employees to raise concerns internally.
Firms have until 7 September 2016 to comply with the requirements. The requirement to assign responsibility to a whistleblowers' champion (who must be a non-executive director and Senior Manager) will take effect on the same date as the Senior Managers Regime, on 7 March 2016, and the whistleblowers' champion will be responsible for overseeing the steps required to prepare the firm for the new regime. This will include updating whistleblowing policies and arrangements to cover all types of disclosure and whistleblower (ie, broader than those protected by employment legislation) and to make clear that there is no obligation to report internally before going to a regulator. There are also detailed expectations as to the content of whistleblowing procedures and staff training.
Standard form settlement agreements for use on an employee exit will also need to be reviewed, as the rules will require the inclusion of text explaining that the agreement does not prevent protected disclosures and will prohibit the inclusion of warranties that the worker has not made a protected disclosure, or that the worker knows of no information which could form the basis of a protected disclosure. Employment contracts and other documentation may also need to be reviewed to remove anything that could amount to a measure intended to prevent protected disclosures.
The rules will also include obligations to tell UK-based employees (and require appointed representatives and tied agents to tell their UK-based employees) about the FCA and PRA whistleblowing services, inform the regulator of employment tribunal rulings of whistleblowing detriment or dismissal, and present a report on whistleblowing to the board at least annually.