Like the Financial Conduct Authority, which said its disciplinary policy may apply when there are no “exceptional circumstances” for staff not wanting to return to the office, for staff who refuse to return to the office, the Fos said it would “endeavour to investigate the employee’s reasons” for not returning and understand the circumstances before any action against its smarter working or hybrid policies.
“The investigation will determine whether there is a possible breach of this policy,” it said. “Breaches of policy are usually dealt with as part of our disciplinary policy and procedure.”
Elsewhere in the FOI, the Fos was asked how it monitors the productivity of those who are working from home.
It explained that managers received a lot of support initially when government guidelines said to work from home, such as ensuring they check in regularly with their colleagues.
The Fos said: “Managers generally monitor productivity and offer support through regular 1:1s and local management approaches.
“We’ve published guidance for managers on how to manage a smarter working team to support them in managing performance and optimising productivity.”
The ombudsman said measuring these aspects depends on the division as in casework, productivity and success is largely measured based on the number of resolved cases.
Yet, Bradley challenged the response as he said: “This is madness, what are advisers and consumers to deduce from this abject failure to do the work we as an industry are paying for?”
The Fos also said it does not have a London weighting for staff.
A spokesperson for the Fos said since restrictions lifted, it has been operating a "phased return".
"From April 2022 we moved to a hybrid model of working, where our people are in the office 40 per cent of the time. Despite the initial disruption of this new way of working, staff have continued to resolve hundreds of thousands of cases.
"2021-22 has been our strongest year in the past four years, in which we reduced our total number of cases, reduced our unallocated backlog of complaints from 90,000 to 34,400, and have seen a 12 per cent uptick in productivity. We are committed to changing and improving, and in line with our Action Plan we will be making further improvements this year.”
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