On 23 February 2015, the FCA and PRA published a joint consultation paper, catchily titled “whistleblowing in deposit takers, PRA designated investment firms and insurers”. If the proposals in the paper are subsequently confirmed, relevant firms will be required to:
(i) put in place a whistleblowing policy and mechanisms for whistleblowing;
(ii) publicise the above arrangements to their UK based employees and confirm their right to whistleblow to the FCA or to the PRA;
(iii) offer protection to whistleblowers;
(iv) include clauses in new employment contracts and settlement agreements making it clear that nothing in the contract or agreement prevents the employee from making a protected disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998;
(v) allocate responsibility for overseeing the firm’s whistleblowing arrangements under the senior managers regime, with the person appointed then fulfilling what the consultation paper refers to as a “whistleblowers’ champion” role. This person will, amongst other things, then have to provide an annual report to the firm’s board about the operation of the arrangements and report to the FCA or PRA any whistleblowing claims upheld by an Employment Tribunal.
If confirmed, these new requirements will be incorporated into the systems and controls sourcebook in the FCA and PRA’s respective Handbooks. The PRA also intends to issue a supervisory statement on whistleblowing that will apply to all relevant firms.
The consultation period closes on 22 May 2015 and for most firms in the financial services sector they are already likely to be compliant with the above requirements. However, it makes sense for those firms caught to double check this in advance of 22 May 2015 and the possible incorporation of these points in the FCA and PRA handbooks.”