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Protecting whistle blowers

A recent decision of the Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner (FRCC) serves as a useful reminder to employers to take appropriate steps to protect whistle blowers, including their identity.

A recent decision of the Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner (FRCC) serves as a useful reminder to employers to take appropriate steps to protect whistle blowers, including their identity.

A former employee of a Bank complained to the FRCC that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had disclosed his identity as a whistle blower to the Bank.  The FCA, while admitting that it did disclose the individual's name to the Bank sought to argue that the disclosure of his name was not unreasonable.  The FRCC disagreed finding that it was not necessary for the FCA to reveal the individual's identity to the Bank to deal with his complaint and that the FCA had not adequately considered the issue of the individual's confidentiality before doing so.

The FCA has adopted a new step in its whistle blowing procedures to ensure that all whistle blowers are now asked to explicitly state how they wish to be treated and the protection they require.

Employers should ensure that they have effective whistleblowing procedures in place which provide protection to whistle blowers.  They should provide sources of help and guidance to whistle blowers; seek to instil a culture in which individuals are encouraged to come forward with concerns; and ensure to the extent possible that individuals are protected through a confidential investigation of their concerns.

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