Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA may take disciplinary action if some staff won't return to office

FCA may take disciplinary action if some staff won't return to office

The Financial Conduct Authority said its disciplinary policy may apply when there are no “exceptional circumstances” for staff not wanting to return to the office.

According to a Freedom of Information request to the FCA, submitted by Panacea Adviser, the regulator is “committed to supporting colleagues” and expects individuals and line managers to have open and honest conversations regarding "exceptional personal circumstances" that may impact on the return to the office. 

For situations where staff refuse to return to the office, it said: “Where possible we try to accommodate individual flexibility within the hybrid working model. Where there are no exceptional circumstances, then the disciplinary policy may apply.”

Since March 2020, as per government guidelines, all staff at the regulator were required to work from home except for those in roles  where this was not possible.

Following the lifting of the government work from home guidelines, the regulator said it provided a gradual return to the office for those colleagues who wished to return.

The FOI said: “From 28 February 2022, in the London office we commenced a trial of hybrid working; whereby all colleagues are required to spend a minimum of 40 per cent of their working time (over a monthly period), within the office. This form of hybrid working will be trialled until the end of July 2022.”

However, this is not the case in its Edinburgh offices which are on a separate timeline and are not part of the trial. 

“The Edinburgh office is open to colleagues since 21 February for those colleagues who wish to return. From 7 March, colleagues are required to spend a minimum of 20 per cent of their working time (over a month period) within the office.”

The City watchdog said line managers monitor individual colleague performance and delivery and stated its annual and mid-year performance management procedure has continued to operate as normal since March 2020. 

“We are currently engaging in a hybrid and fully dispersed working trial, and productivity/delivery will be one of the factors taken into account in the trial evaluation,” it said.

Fair pay

Meanwhile, in the FOI, the FCA also said it does not operate a London weighting allowance.

However, Derek Bradley, founder and chief executive officer of Panacea Advisers, said the regulator soon will.

According to its new employment offer, the FCA said it “narrow the difference between London and rest of the UK pay ranges to a maximum of 10 per cent”. 

Earlier this week, three quarters (75 per cent) of Unite union members have voted in favour of the action against the FCA over disputes around changes to pay and conditions.

Some 90 per cent voted to support industrial action short of strike action.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “For the first time ever, the employees at the FCA have voted for industrial action.

"The employees have made it clear that the proposed changes to staff pay and conditions are completely unacceptable," she added.