On 14 May 2024, the government and financial services regulators published their responses to the recommendations made by the Sexism in the City inquiry. Those hoping that the inquiry would quickly lead to solid commitments for reform to tackle sexism in financial services may be somewhat disappointed. While the inquiry certainly created momentum around the discussion, the current government does not intend to push forward legislative changes, and the two regulators (the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)) are still deep in review of their policy direction, although they have set some expectations about their priorities.

In this blog, we look at the background to the Sexism in the City inquiry, the current status in respect of the inquiry’s recommendations, and where this leaves financial services organisations.

What is the Sexism in the City inquiry?

Launched in July 2023, the House of Commons Treasury Committee’s inquiry was intended as a follow up to the Women in Finance inquiry from 2017. The 2023 inquiry set out to explore progress on issues affecting women in financial services, including the removal of barriers to entry and progression to successful careers, representation at board level, pay gaps, and misogyny and harassment. 

After months of reviewing written evidence, hearing oral evidence and holding focus groups, the Committee published its report on Sexism in the City on 5 March 2024. While the report noted some improvement for women in financial services since the 2017 inquiry, particularly on female representation in senior roles, it also expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on improving instances of non-financial misconduct (e.g. sexual harassment and bullying) against women and the generally poor culture continuing to cause challenges for women in the industry. The inquiry made a number of recommendations to government, and the two regulators, to accelerate change.

How have the government and regulators responded to the inquiry’s recommendations?

Two months after the Committee’s report, the response from HM Treasury, the FCA and PRA has been published. Whilst there is a broad agreement with the Committee’s comments and sentiments about the need for improvement, and various explanations about what steps have already been taken or are currently ongoing, the government and regulators largely stopped short of committing to prompt and significant changes in line with the recommendations.  Continue Reading What next for women in financial services? The government and regulators respond to recommendations from the Sexism in the City inquiry

Today is International Women’s Day. What originally started life in 1909 as a single protest organised by the Socialist Party of America in New York, is now a global event with the backing of the United Nations and some of the world’s largest corporations.

The theme of this year’s campaign is #BeBoldForChange. The UK Government’s own flagship equality measure, while a welcome step forward, is, it might be said, neither particularly bold, nor likely to inspire much change.

In just under a month, from 6 April, new regulations on the publication of gender pay gap information will come into force.Continue Reading Gender Pay Gap Reporting – Do we need more?

On 1 October 2016, regulations are expected to come into force in the UK which will require large private and voluntary sector employers to report annually on gender pay gap information. To give employers time to get to grips with the new obligation, the Government is expected to set 29 April 2018 as the deadline for the first report. However, with a lot of work to do to prepare, this is not as far away as it seems – particularly given that companies will be required to report on bonuses paid for a 12-month period which started 1 May 2016.

We explain below what employers should be doing now to get their house in order and to ensure they are ready to report on time and in a way which promotes and protects their businesses.
Continue Reading Gender Pay Gap Reporting – Why It Matters Now

The FCA and PRA have announced a new package of rules aimed at formalising whistleblowing procedures within certain financial institutions. The rules will be implemented on 7 September 2016; however firms covered by the new regime must comply with the requirement to appoint a ‘whistleblowers’ champion’ by the earlier date of 7 March 2016.

Background

Following the LIBOR scandal in 2013, whistleblowing has fast risen up the regulatory agenda. In June 2013, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards recommended that banks should put in place mechanisms to allow workers to raise concerns internally and appoint a senior person to take responsibility for the effectiveness of these arrangements. Earlier this year, the PRA and FCA consulted with firms on whether such measures should be introduced. The new rules, which are contained in a package of publications from the PRA and FCA, are intended to be applied alongside the Senior Managers Regime (SMR) and the Senior Insurance Managers Regime (SIMR).

The FCA recognises that many of the firms covered by the new rules already have rigorous internal whistleblowing procedures in place. The new regime aims to build on and formalise those good practices and encourage individuals to raise concerns and challenge poor behaviours in the industry.
Continue Reading New rules on whistleblowing for UK financial institutions

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) requires certain businesses to publish an annual statement explaining what steps they are taking to ensure there is no modern slavery within their own business and their supply chains. During consultation on this measure, businesses repeatedly called for effective and practical guidance on what a modern slavery statement should look like. That long awaited guidance was published today. Below, we look through the typos and duplications contained in the guidance to report on the good bits and the bad, and consider what businesses should be doing now.

For background on the reporting requirement in the MSA, please see our blog posts of 22 July and 29 July, and listen to our podcast.
Continue Reading Government publishes guidance on the reporting obligation in the Modern Slavery Act

The National Living Wage comes into force in April 2016. This morning, the government announced it is doubling the penalties for minimum wage violators. In this blog, we take a closer look at how the National Living Wage (NLW) will work in practice.

What is it?

From April 2016, all workers aged 25 and over will be entitled to be paid £7.20 per hour (rising to £9 by 2020).

How will it work in practice?

Essentially it will create a new tier of National Minimum Wage (NMW) for those aged 25 and over. The NMW is currently £6.50 per hour for those aged 21 and over. The Low Pay Commission will decide how the NLW will reach £9 by 2020.
Continue Reading The National Living Wage – Will it cause a “catastrophic collapse”?

This morning the Prime Minister made an important announcement regarding the new reporting requirement in the Modern Slavery Act. David Cameron confirmed that businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more will be caught by the Act and will therefore be required to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement from October 2015.

The Modern Slavery Act was passed in March 2015. When section 54 of the Act comes into force, large businesses will be required to report annually on their efforts to ensure the business and its supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking. Below, we consider what businesses need to do to comply.

The obligation

Section 54 of the Act requires businesses over a certain size to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. The statement must confirm either:

  1. the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any of its supply chains or in any part of its own business; or
  2. that no such steps have been taken.

A link to the statement must be published in a prominent position on the business’ website homepage and the statement must be approved and signed by a director. So, although businesses could opt to take no action as a result of the Act and simply produce a statement under option (b), the Government hopes that public pressure and scrutiny from shareholders and the media, together with the risk of reputational damage, will encourage businesses to take real steps to investigate their supply chains and publish details of their efforts. Experience in California, with similar legislation, suggests businesses will not go for option (b).

Continue Reading The Modern Slavery Act: What You Need To Know

Following the unexpected victory by the Conservatives in the UK general election on 7 May, the Government has announced its programme for the next session of Parliament. Amongst its proposals, the Government is proposing new laws regulating the ability to take lawful strike action.

The new proposals will require a 50% voter turnout threshold in strike ballots, while retaining the condition that a simple majority of those votes must be in favour of industrial action.

Additionally, the new proposals will require that 40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action in certain essential public services (health, education, fire and transport). The Bill will also introduce time limits on a mandate following a ballot for industrial action. The Conservatives proposed in their manifesto that employers would be allowed to use agency workers to cover for striking employees. No mention of this proposal was made in the Queen’s Speech, so we will have to wait for the Bill to be published before we see if this proposal becomes reality.Continue Reading UK Government reveals new legislative programme – Implications for employment law

The sun may have finally decided to make an appearance but this is no indication of a relaxing summer break for employment specialists!

A number of key employment law provisions came into force on 25 June 2013, with 29 July 2013 as the next key date for legislative reform. We take a look at what employment-related legislative changes are in store this summer.Continue Reading UK Legislative Reform – No Summer Break