The Prime Minister went on television on the evening of Sunday May 10 and announced a partial easing of the UK’s lockdown, but the Financial Conduct Authority has responded by saying there is no change to its instructions to firms as a result of what Boris Johnson had to say.

Although the televised address included something of an encouragement for the UK population to return to work, this was more a change of emphasis than any change of policy. It is still of critical importance that jobs are carried out remotely wherever possible, both to reduce the spread of the virus within offices, and because there are concerns about overcrowding on public transport.

The FCA continues to say that certain staff should not be attending an office location or carrying out face-to-face meetings, and these include:

  • Financial advisers – in practice very few of these now work from busy offices full-time anyway, but they may need to get used to conducting client meetings online or by phone
  • IT staff, unless they are supervising important office-based systems and technology
  • Those offering claims management services
  • Those offering non-essential loans and credit

In today’s technological age, many roles can be carried out remotely, and this extends to many telephone-based customer-facing roles – roles of this nature existed even before the pandemic.

Where staff do need to travel to office locations, firms’ management are encouraged to consider whether it is appropriate to take some or all of the following precautions:

  • Introducing staggered shifts, so not everyone travels in the normal rush hour
  • Urging staff to stay at home should they think that they may have symptoms of the virus
  • Relaxing requirements that might currently require staff to provide doctor’s notes and similar for periods of illness
  • Understanding that staff who are symptom-free may still need to be away from work as their family members might have caught the virus, or their children’s school has been closed
  • Purchasing hand sanitiser
  • Ensuring all toilets have a well-stocked soap dispenser and a number of anti-septic wipes
  • Encouraging staff to wash their hands regularly, in line with the Government’s advice
  • Regularly cleaning computer keyboards, desks and surfaces
  • Changing any ‘hot desking’ practices or similar, as the virus can remain on surfaces for as long as a few days
  • Changing the office layout so employees are seated at least two metres apart when working
  • Erecting screens between desks
  • Staggering break times so everyone isn’t in the communal area at the same time

The FCA continues to emphasise that senior management have a critical role to play in deciding which staff need to travel to the office and which staff can work from home or can be furloughed.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article