The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have published new rules on whistleblowing. Affected firms must comply from 7 September 2016. These changes follow recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that banks adopt internal procedures to enable employees to raise concerns internally and appoint a senior person to take responsibility for the effectiveness of those arrangements. The rules are designed to work alongside the recently published regulations on improving individual accountability in the banking sector – the senior managers and certification regimes and conduct rules.
The key requirements on whistleblowing, which go further than the current Public Interest Disclosure Act protections, require firms to:
- appoint a senior manager or director (the policy statements indicate that this will be a non-executive director) as their "whistleblowers’ champion" – this takes effect on 7 March 2016.
- The NED need not be someone with day-to day responsibility for handing whistleblowing disclosures;
- put in place internal whistleblowing arrangements to handle all types of disclosure from employees and others;
- provide training for UK-based employees, their managers and those employees responsible for operating the internal whistleblowing arrangements;
- include text in settlement agreements making it clear that nothing in the agreement prevents employees from making a protected disclosure and ensure that workers are not asked to enter into warranties that they have not made a protected disclosure and do not know of information that could form the basis of a protected disclosure;
- tell UK-based employees about the FCA and PRA whistleblowing services;
- present a report on whistleblowing to the board at least annually;
- inform the FCA of cases where an employment tribunal finds that a whistleblower was victimised or dismissed for blowing the whistle.
The new rules apply to UK deposit-takers (banks, building societies, credit unions) with over £250m in assets, to PRA-designated investment firms and to insurers that meet Solvency II requirements; they are non-binding guidance for other regulated firms. UK branches of overseas banks may be covered later.