With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to embrace remote working almost instantly without any scope to prior preparations. Now, as the economy recovers, more people are sticking to flexible work schedules.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom has now issued guidelines to firms to meet their “regulatory obligations” while managing a remote or hybrid workplace.
The remote work “regulations,” according to the FCA, apply to current companies, organizations requesting to be regulated, and firms intending to submit further applications.
It added that remote working should have no impact on the company’s location in UK or ability to fulfill the threshold conditions for the regulated activities for which it has approval.
The FCA advises companies to assess their remote and hybrid working arrangements on a “specific instance approach.” Existing firms that want to go totally remote should be able to show that not having a central office location will not hamper the company, its workers, customers, or the market.
According to Principle 11 of the FCA’s Principles for Businesses, any substantial changes to how a firm plans to operate may need prior notification to the regulator.
Businesses must also demonstrate that their remote working arrangements are well-planned.
The FCA offers a list of advice that includes the following:
- Review plans before making any permanent changes in the workplace.
- Practice proper governance and supervision across the departments in the organization or firm.
- Risk management, compliance, and auditing must be unaffected.
- Firms must take cybersecurity measures into account.
- Firms and organizations should continue to maintain appropriate record-keeping.
- Companies may also be obliged to inform the FCA of changes to their operations, depending on regulatory requirements.
The FCA and regulators should be able to receive information and do their job, and the remote working arrangement must not create any hindrance.
Separate guidelines were issued by the FCA for firms seeking approval or planning to register.
The suggestions include the following:
- Make arrangements for consumer access
- Determine a place where FCA can visit.
- Continuity of preparations in case of a Wi-Fi interruption at home
- Consider the legal consequences of operating a business from a distance and remotely.
- The location of top management and their objectives for monitoring the company’s operations.
- Confirm that your processes and procedures are consistent with the agreements.
- The estimated duration of the arrangements (if not permanent).
- How your company plans to respond to complicated consumer demands.
- Customer authentication and vulnerability assessments setups.
- A company should inform the employees that FCA visits may take place in their homes.
- Plans for compliance audits to ensure that the remote working methodology is working appropriately.
According to a thematic research report by Global Data, “[Office work] will not be the same after Covid-19.” Physical settings will change, and remote working with the help of technology will become the new norm for millions of people across the globe.
The FCA stated that “the above mentioned is a suggestive and non-exhaustive list”.
Any remote or hybrid working approach that is adopted should not risk or compromise the firm’s ability to follow all regulations, regulatory standards, and obligations or result in a failure to meet them.
You may find the complete list of the remote work guidelines on the FCA’s website.