UK Government Demands Change On Recruitment Racism

Labour market discrimination has long been a serious issue throughout UK employment law, but a newly established government scheme is now challenging this thanks to a rule that no longer necessitates students include their name(s) on applications they make for either employment or educational positions. The intention of this is to eradicate the likelihood of employers making a social and/or cultural assumption about the candidate based on their name(s).

This new application process, known as a “name-blind” policy, is fully endorsed by the Tory government and will also mean that a potential employer will not not be privy to the candidate’s name until they are shortlisted for an interview.

The organisations actively lending their support to this new approach are responsible for the combined employment of 1.8m people in Britain, across both private and public sectors. These are some of the most recognisable names in the country, such as the NHS, the BBC and the Civil Service. Even many well-known privatised companies like Teach First, KPMG, HSBC and Virgin Money have voiced their support.

The use of name-blind applications has support from many leading scholars too. Vikki Boliver, a senior sociology lecturer at Durham University, conducted a recent investigation into the applications of several leading UK universities on behalf of the Russell Group and noted that from 2010-12 only 36% of applicants of ethnic origin received a university place compared to 55% of white candidates. Bolivier believes that name-blind applications “may help some” but that the change is “definitely not a solution” to some of the biases that recruiters hold.

Employer preference for employees with white sounding names is not a UK only issue, as recent French employment law studies show that applicants with foreign names are less likely to receive a response from an employer in France.

How did name-blind applications begin?

Changing the process of revealing applicant names began in 2009 when a government report concluded that UK employers place emphasis on arranging interviews with candidates with a western name despite other applicants showing the same level of skill and experience.

David Cameron recently explained that UK university admissions service, UCAS, is to embrace the name-blind application process beginning in 2017. This announcement comes in spite of UCAS’s own independent research which they claim found no evidence that a bias against ethnic names existed in their application process.

At a recent speech in Manchester the PM outlined the government’s stance on why name-blind applications are needed: “You send out your CV far and wide but you get rejection after rejection — what’s wrong?” “It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname.”

This emphasis on tackling discrimination at work is part of recent Tory intentions to alter the public perception of the party’s attitude towards race following criticism that the government’s attitude to Islamic extremism has led to some Muslims being unfairly investigated.

Could this lead to further changes?

Once the name-blind policy is enforced there could be further changes made in the form of applications that no longer require information on applicant gender. The ongoing controversy over the gender pay gap between men and women provides strong justification for enforcing this.

There is an average 9% pay gap in Britain regarding the gender earnings of employees aged over 40, although the gap for younger employees is falling. These figures come amid new legislation requiring large companies to release details on the bonuses paid to their male and female employees.

FCA Announces Major New Whistleblowing Policies For Financial Sector

Recent announcements made by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) have revealed big changes are ahead for how whisteblowing is dealt with within the financial industry.

The key change introduced by the FCA involves lenders and insurers will now being monitored by financial industry watchdogs who they must report to with information on any case they face that involves whistleblowing.

This method has the purpose of assisting whistleblowers with the difficult task of speaking out against employers while acting as a reminder to the major banks that the FCA is going to get tougher on the wide-scale industry corruption of recent years, such as Barclays’ effort to alter Libor Rates in 2012; a move that resulted in a swift fine of £290 million for the bank.

However, the FCA have been keen to point out that the recently announced changes are not intended to punish the banking sector, but to instead “build on and formalise the good practice already widespread in the financial services industry”.

This new whistleblowing legislation will also call for individual companies throughout the financial sector to appoint a “whistleblowing champion”; an official who will encourage employees to come forward with any issue they feel strongly about without fear of reprisal from their employers.

These new changes are due to come into effect in September 2016, and all businesses within the financial sector must alter their whistleblowing policies in accordance with these rules before that date. The new policies will apply to banks, deposit-takers, building societies and credit unions with assets greater than £250m. All insurers legally bound by the Solvency II directive will also have to comply to the new rules.

Since the recent announcement of new whistleblowing legislation there has been some speculation that the FCA is likely to soon introduce a further policy that will grant employees the chance to be paid for the whistleblowing information they provide at tribunals.

Such financial reward is already a long-held custom in the United States where the Securities and Exchange Commission provides financial compensation for any claim that results in a successful legal result against a business. This has often been known to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of financial aid for the claimant.

Yearly whistleblowing reports

As part of a joint statement recently issued, the FCA and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority announced that all companies affected by the changes will need to draft an annual whistleblowing report for the benefit of the company boards concerned, with a senior management official present to ensure that all actions are made in accordance with the new legislation.

Financial industry regulators have recently again voiced their support for whisteblowing laws by announcing they will do more to make UK employees aware of their rights in regards to existing whisteblowing laws. Whistleblowers have always been an integral part of revealing dishonest actions within UK employment.

An increase In whistleblowing cases

The FCA’s changes have been issued during a period when whistleblowing claims have risen sharply across all areas of the UK financial sector. During 2014/15 a total of 1,240 whistleblowing disclosures were recorded within the financial sector; a 28% increase over 2013/14 results when 1,040 claims were made. When these figures are compared to the results of 2007/08, when just 138 claims were recorded, the sheer significance of this rise becomes apparent.