The FCA has clarified which people working in regulated financial services firms will meet the definition of a “key worker”.

By Rob Moulton

On 19 March 2020, the UK government published guidance setting out which “key workers” will be permitted special status as regards to educational provision for their children. (It is possible that this definition may start to be used for other purposes.)

Then on 20 March, the FCA set out guidance, which is similar to guidance published by the PRA, about the extent to which those working in regulated financial services firms will meet the definition of a key worker.

While the overall government policy is that parents should keep their children at home whenever possible, the government has accepted that certain individuals in the financial services sector should be treated as key workers.

The FCA’s approach is as follows:

  • The CEO is accountable for ensuring that the firm has a proper process to designate individuals as being key workers.
  • Key workers, which the FCA says it expects to be only a “limited number of people”, are those whose role is “necessary for the firm to continue to provide essential daily financial services to consumers, or to ensure the continued functioning of markets”.
  • Examples of roles that may be considered as providing essential services include those individuals who:
    • Are Senior Managers
    • Run online services and processes
    • Run branches or deal with customer queries
    • Process payments
    • Facilitate lending
    • Handle claims and renewal of insurance
    • Operate trading venues and critical market infrastructures
    • Occupy risk management, compliance, audit, and other support functions
    • Are finance and IT staff

For some firms, this could be a reasonably extensive list. Indeed, for some retail banks, many of their staff will fall within the above definitions.

In order to provide the key worker designation to employees, firms should sign letters that state “the individual has been designated as a key worker in relation to their employment by [firm name]”.

Inevitably, there will be some confusion over who qualifies, and potentially pressure on the CEO to designate more (or fewer) staff as being in this category.