FCA Gets 47 Whistleblower Reports On Virus Misconduct

By Irene Madongo
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Law360, London (December 2, 2020, 5:03 PM GMT) -- The Financial Conduct Authority has received 47 whistleblower reports on COVID-19-related misconduct in the financial services industry, which could see businesses face enforcement action for potential health and safety law breaches, according to law firm GQ Littler.

The reports submitted detailed situations of workers being wrongly classed as key workers, such as where employers said an employee was a key worker in order to bypass work-from-home rules, the employment law firm learned through a freedom of information request.

In the United Kingdom, key workers are usually expected to show up at work physically, even under lockdowns.

"Coronavirus is a highly emotive public health issue. Employers should be prepared for reports by staff if they feel that their employer has not fully complied with the ever-changing government guidance," Sophie Vanhegan, partner at GQ Littler, said in a statement Monday.

Whistleblower reports concern issues of wrongdoing by FCA-regulated firms, and such reports are typically raised by workers.

Many of the virus-related reports involved a lack of personal protective equipment and nonobservance of government guidance on social distancing, GQ Littler said.

Employers risk facing claims in cases where a worker is dismissed for refusing to attend work "due to reasonably believing that their workplace puts them in danger," GQ Littler said.
Regulators have already signaled that they will take a hard line against businesses who badly handle customers in relation to the virus.

In November, the FCA said it would hold senior bosses of Lloyd's of London insurers directly to account if it finds evidence that customers have been treated unfairly over claims related to the virus.

In October, the FCA also warned businesses against making policyholders go to "unreasonable lengths" when they make a travel insurance claim, in temporary guidance introduced in the wake of the pandemic.

--Additional reporting by Martin Croucher. Editing by Daniel King.

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