The Financial Conduct Authority has clarified how managers working within financial services should identify who is able to work from home during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) welcoming the regulator’s intervention.
According to the FCA’s guidance, issued following the government putting the UK into lockdown last week, designated senior managers as required by the Senior Managers & Certification Regime are responsible for identifying which of their employees are unable to perform their jobs from home, and have to travel to the office or business continuity site.
“We expect the total number of roles requiring an ongoing physical presence in the office or business continuity site to be far smaller than the number of workers needed to ensure all of a firm’s business activities continue to function on a business as usual basis,” the FCA said.
“The UK government has made clear that employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.”
The FCA cited several examples of financial services professionals falling under its oversight that it would not expect to go into work or meet face to face, including claims management companies and those selling non-essential goods and credit, business support staff, “such as those in IT where they can triage issues from home, unless they are looking after specific equipment or technology”, and financial advisers, “as they can offer their services online or by phone”.
Matthew Connell, director of policy and engagement at CII, said: “At a time when firms and advisers will be unsure of whether or not they need to be travelling into the office, the FCA’s use of the Senior Managers & Certification Regime to indicate both what senior managers should be doing, but also how best to support their colleagues, is a welcome intervention.”
“Many insurance and personal finance professionals will be carrying out vital work on behalf of their customers, to ensure their queries are answered, that their policies remain intact and that their claims are answered fairly.”
“Therefore, we think it is only right that despite the important work they are doing, their health and wellbeing is a priority and are glad the regulator is doing all it can to support this.”
Connell said that CII will “continue to work with government and the regulator, to ensure the latest guidance is shared with our members and how best they can follow it”.
The FCA recently issued guidance for general insurers during the coronavirus pandemic, with advice outlined for travel, motor, home and private medical insurance, as well as clarification on product suspension and policy renewals.