Disability Discrimination Win For Starbucks Employee

A woman with dyslexia has won an employment tribunal case on grounds that she suffered disability discrimination at the hands of her former employer, US coffee corporation Starbucks, which claimed she committed fraud by falsifying documents.

Ms Meseret Kumulchew won her tribunal case this past December after it was ruled she was discriminated against when her employer ignored her insistence that she had just made a mistake by accidentally entering incorrect information during her duties as branch supervisor as a result of her condition. She was subsequently made to perform lesser duties and expected to retrain for her role.

Ms Kumulchew worked at the Clapham, South-West branch of Starbucks where her work involved recording the temperature of fridges and water at specific times of the day. It was during this task that she made a mistake and was later accused of intentionally entering false information; an act of fraud according to Starbucks officials.

The company was aware of Ms Kumulchew’s disability and she strong asserts that the company never made any effort to develop her skills so as to support her struggle. Ms Kumulchew frequently made contact with her superiors to inform them of her situation. One message she sent read:

‘I’ll struggle, but don’t worry, help me and I’ll get there in my own time. I’m not going to affect your business, because for every customer I’ll roll out the red carpet. I love my job. Giving them a coffee may not be a big deal, but I’m making their life, for the day at least, happy.”

Starbucks were ruled to have not trained Ms Kumulchew in such a way that she received satisfactory support and had therefore behaved in a discriminatory way with no regard for her well-being or performance. This attitude was also found to be a direct contradiction of Starbucks’ equality principals.

The effect of the fraud accusation deeply harmed Ms Kumulchew. In an interview following the verdict she expressed her hurt: “The name fraud itself shouldn’t exist for me. It’s quite serious. I nearly ended my life. But I had to think of my kids. I know I’m not a fraud. I just made a mistake.”

Dr Kate Saunders of the British Dyslexia Association has released a statement on the issue of dyslexia discrimination: “One in 10 people has dyslexia to some degree. Many people will not know they have dyslexia because it wasn’t identified at school. Many dyslexics are struggling in the work place with very high levels of anxiety because employers do not have the training or the awareness to make adjustments for them.”

Reacting to the ruling, Starbucks too issued a statement to clarify their current position: “We are in ongoing discussions with this Starbucks employee around specific workplace support and we are not able to comment on a case that has not yet been completed.”

Another tribunal hearing will now be scheduled in order to assess whether Ms Kumulchew is entitled to compensation for her sufferance.

Tribunal Grants £1.2 million Compensation To NHS Surgeon

A top heart surgeon who found himself on the receiving end of discrimination in the workplace after speaking out over a number of controversial failings within the NHS has been awarded a massive £1.2 million at an employment tribunal.

This ruling was granted to Dr Mattu a full fifteen years since he initially expressed his concerns over patient safety. Speaking of his struggle he stated that he was ‘vilified and bullied’ following his 2001 claims about conditions at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

His revelations  were a reaction to the deaths of two patients which was caused by overcrowding in hospital wards; a tragedy that Dr Mattu’s employers at Walgrave attempted to cover up. Mr Mattu claims that the blame for at least two of the deaths is down to the dangerous practice of having five patients staying inside hospital bays designed for just four people.

One instance documented as part of Dr Mattu ‘s whistleblowing involved him and two senior nursing colleagues investigating a report regarding the death of a 35-year-old patient as a result of doctors not being able to physically reach him with necessary medical tools due to him being kept inside an overcrowded bay.

The original tribunal of Dr Mattu’s case took place in April 2014, when it was determined he suffered unfair dismissal for his actions and subsequently had his reputation tarnished by former employers at Walsgrave Hospital. At a recent tribunal in February 2016 it was finally decided that a sum of £1.22 million compensation be paid to him as the tribunal ruled Dr Mattu’s actions were upheld by whistleblower legislation for which he suffered unfair result treatment as a result.

The ruling also judged that the NHS Trust had previously held a disciplinary hearing against Dr Mattu knowing that he would not be capable of attending as he was in poor health at the time. He was eventually dismissed by the trust in 2010,and only received notice of the decision as he lay in his hospital bed during a period of suspension from work amid claims he had bullied his co-workers.

It is estimated that upwards of £10 million pounds worth of public money was spent on legal fees and tribunal costs in an effort to silence Dr Mattu, implemented under the influence of personnel in charge of the Trust of Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospitals.

During a 2014 interview Dr Mattu spoke of his unfair treatment: ‘Instead of listening to me, embracing what I said and working with me to improve conditions for patients, trust managers tried to destroy me. It was a form of torture. Patients have been betrayed. Even today, there has still been no investigation into the deaths that I witnessed”

With the case finally complete and the ruling in his favour, Dr Mattu has expressed the impact that the case has had on his life and those of his family: ‘The overriding feeling I and my wife have is relief that there is finally a full stop. For the first time in 15 years I can look forward and plan things for the future.’

A source close to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has noted that case is a prime example of why hospitals need to do more to ensure the concerns of whistleblowers are heard. Dr Mattu has been working with Mr Hunt in recent years in order to establish the Freedom To Speak Up campaign; an platform to protect whistleblowers within the NHS and ensure all issues from staff are acknowledged and acted upon. Mr Hunt explains: ‘Ensuring that staff are listened to when they raise concerns is part of what we need to do to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.

Responding to the tribunal ruling, the NHS Trust of Walsgrave Hospital has also issued a statement: ‘While £1.2 million is a large amount, it is a significant reduction from the original claim and has finally resolved this matter. We accept that it has been difficult for all involved and are relieved that this case has now been brought to an end.’

Former Co-operative Group Employee Claims Unfair Dismissal For Whistleblowing

Co-operative Group has faced legal action from a former company executive who claims the organisation embarked upon a “deliberate campaign” to compromise her reputation following an act of whistleblowing in which she expressed concerns over what she believes is the company’s malpractice and poor governance.

Kathleen Harmeston was employed as procurement director of Co-operative Group in April 2014 before being placed on ‘garden leave’ in June of that year before being quietly dismissed three months later. Her tribunal hearing is now underway in Manchester and she is seeking £5 million in damages for unfair dismissal.

Ms Harmeston defended her performance at Co-op as well as her prior years of experience in the field of procurement which has made her “a well known person in the industry” with a nomination for Businesswoman of the Year award in 2012.

Explaining the alleged malpractice at Co-op, Ms Harmeston claimed the spending of 70% of the company’s overall £1.5bn fortune was not detailed in the officially published procurement policy released by the organisation. She further stated that Co-operative Group is “haemorrhaging money” due to high costs amassed by hiring management consultant services; a expenditure costing between £4m and £8m during 2013 alone.

Ms Harmeston’s revelations allegedly led to her being put on ‘garden leave’ in June 2014 and later being dismissed from the company entirely in September that year. Allan Leighton, the Co-operative Group chairman, responded to the allegations at tribunal: “We dismissed her because she acted in a manner which was not in keeping with the importance and seniority of her role, nor the values and principles of the Co-op.”

The respondent made further assertions which questioned Ms Harmeston’s credibility as a reliable witness. The company’s legal team explored a dispute she had with the organisation after being hired in which she insisted on having an office based on a different floor to the one she was allocated at the company’s offices in a bid to make her appear resentful towards Co-op.

There was also an emphasis on Ms Hemberton’s career prior to her employment at Co-op, with details of how she had worked closely with a consultancy firm that were investigated for misconduct against Royal Mail when working with the postal organisation several years ago.

Bringing this historic information to light is a not-so subtle effort intended to bring Ms Harmeston’s dependability into question. However, the Co-operative group is likely to be proven to have been aware of Ms Harmeston’s conduct while employed at Royal Mail as her efforts at reducing the company’s expenditure was essential to her being hired by Co-op.

As part of her witness statement, Ms Harmeston maintained that she “at all times acted with the utmost integrity” regarding Co-op’s business interests. She also expressed how she felt about her former employer’s behaviour towards her:

“It is difficult for me to escape the conclusion that the respondent embarked upon a deliberate campaign to comprehensively disparage my reputation with staff, suppliers and within the Executive Search community seeking to neutralise the impact of my disclosures and to utterly destroy my hard won reputation and career.”

An act of whistleblowing is protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act where there is reasonable belief that an employee was dismissed as part of a company’s response to , an employee voiding their concerns, which results in such action being labelled unfair dismissal.

Ms Harmeston also asserted that Co-op used deceptive conduct as a means of monitoring her when they gave her the code name “Wimbledon” in order to keep aware of her actions using a system that would not lead a “paper trail” back to her. The Co-operative group dismisses all claims Ms Harmeston is making against it and has claimed it will “fully and robustly defend our decision to dismiss Kath Harmeston”.

The ongoing tribunal and is expected to last for two weeks.

How Might Employment Law Change During 2016?

Not since 1996 has a Tory government been had the power to make changes to UK employment law, and there has not been a time in recent memory when so many vital issues underway that could alter the direction of employment law. Here is an general overview of several of the key changes that will shape employment law in 2016, which employers and employees alike should be aware of.

Gender Pay

A revelation of the difference in pay between men and women in the workplace has long been planned and will finally be made available to the public in 2016. From March 26th UK businesses with a staff of 250 employees or more will have to release such information in the public domain along with data showing the difference between bonus payments for each gender.

Although it has been technically illegal to pay women less than men as far back as 1970 when changes were made to employment law, without such a law being strictly enforced businesses have been able to get away with paying less to their female workforce. It is hoped that the public revelation of such information will stop women from being underpaid.

Employers will likely be fully briefed regarding the exact details of what to expect before such information need be revealed.

The National Living Wage

One major change that will occur in UK employment law is the National Living Wage which will be made law on April 1st. This wage gives employees aged 25 and over the right to hold a ‘living wage’, a payment acting as a new top rate on the national minimum wage. This wage will total £7.20, but workers under 25 will not qualify as the minimum wage rate will still apply to them.

Those employers who are found to have not paid their employees the national living wage will receive a penalty twice as severe as what they would previously have been given.

Working Parents

There will also be major developments made in 2016 for the benefit of working parents, such as the plan to provide 30 hours of free childcare to parents with children aged 3-4. The full details of how this change will be implemented is expected later in the year.

Grandparents will also be benefited during 2016 thanks to new legislation that allows them to share parental leave benefits if they are actively caring for a child while working. Details of this change are yet to be finalised.

The Trade Union Bill

The Trade Union Bill 2015 is in the process of being sanctioned by Parliament and should come be be ushered into law in April. This bill is intended to a controversial measure that seeks to place greater pressure on trade unions to reconsider taking strike action; a decision no doubt generated by the increasing number of public sectors that have undertaken strike action in recent years.

The main change involved with this legislation is a new voting system that decreases the likelihood of a strike occurring across those sectors with a greater likelihood of altering the daily routine of of the country when on strike, such as the health and transport industries.

Under the new system 50% of all staff eligible for striking will have to vote on favour of this decision for such a plan to legally go ahead. Furthermore, there must also now be a four month time limit for an action like this to take affect all votes have been cast. A longer notice period for employers is also now required before staff can take strike action.

Another Trade Union Bill change that will assist employers are plans that seek to give a business the right to hire agency workers who will cover the working shifts left by staff who have taken strike action.

Termination Payments

A significant change that could be introduced to employment law this year is for termination payments to be taxed. The Office for Tax Simplification has outlined a plan that could make all terminations taxable under UK law; a major change from the current legislation which only allows termination payments under £30,000 to be tax free.

The Immigration Bill

UK law may also be changed this year in the form of the immigration bill; a change that will seek to punish employers who are proven to have illegally hired foreign workers. This bill extends to all employers in the public sector who are found to have hired employees that are unable to speak fluent English. An new tax known as the ‘immigration skills charge’ may also be handed down to employers who are dependent on hiring foreign labour.

New Guidelines For Treating Transgender Employees

The issue of treatment towards transgender employees has long been a controversial one in employment law. Until recently there was no defining notion of how transgender concerns should be handled by employers, but now, as transgender issues are becoming ever more vocal in UK society, government guidance is reflecting this.

Nicky Morgan, the UK Minister for Women and Equalities, has revealed the release of two new legal documents that provide employer guidelines on how transgender employees should be treated. The first document is known as ‘The recruitment and retention of transgender staff’, and the second is named ‘Providing services for transgender customers‘

Working together these two guides are intended to give businesses the information they need to assist with the recruitment and training of transgender employees, as well as provide helpful advice regarding common problems that transgender employees face.

Ms Morgan also spoke of the prejudice individuals experience in UK workplaces: “Many transgender people still face discrimination in the workplace, as well as in their day-to-day lives. The guidance for employers and service providers we are publishing today is an important step towards helping improve knowledge and understanding to ensure all members of our society can live their lives free from discrimination”

Every complicated aspect of gender is explored across the two reports which define gender reassignment as “when a person takes steps to alter the outward expression of their gender so that it is better aligns with sense of who they are”.

Employers are also advised that it will not always be possible to identify an individual’s gender simply by their appearance and voice.

To better understand the content of the new documents, here is a brief overview of each report.


Providing Services For Transgender Customers

The guidelines that comprise the Providing Services For Transgender Customers guide is intended to “set the atmosphere and culture” for transgender employees in the workplace. This cultural assistance is broad and ranges from helping with physical comfort at work to appropriate verbal and written forms of identification for employees.

The guide explains the rationale for such changes: “Our different backgrounds, experience and perspectives mean we think about issues in different ways, see new solutions and opportunities to improve”.

Several renowned UK employers have already expressed support for the new guidelines, including British supermarkets like Sainsburys and Asda as well as international restaurants like MacDonalds. This guide also highlights the problems discrimination against individuals can have for the function of a workforce: “If barriers exist to the recruitment and retention of transgender staff, employers miss out on this potential.”

The report explains that companies which adopt policies supporting transgender lifestyles will be far less likely to receive public complaints and will also make legal action against businesses by transgender people less likely.

Employers are urged to ensure transgender employees are protected from members of the public as well as fellow staff if the job they perform involves customer service. Businesses that find employees experiencing hateful actions by the public have a duty to prevent these actions as much as possible, with legal assistance if necessary.


The Recruitment and Recognition of Transgender Staff

The second report known as “The Recruitment and Recognition of Transgender Staff” is intended to guarantee that transgender employees already in employment receive the best possible assistance with their concerns. Employers are advised to conduct regular checks in order to ensure that their business is meeting the needs of all transgender employees

Interestingly the report does not suggest that changes be made for the convenience of a transgender employee if the individual and/or employer feel the change will have the effect of isolating the employee from their colleagues and potentially hinder how they are perceived at work. The guide urges fair treatment without the introduction of changes that anticipate issues of offence which may harm career opportunities. The guide sums this up by stating that employers should “be mindful of issues that can arise, but don’t expect there to be problems”.

Lock v British Gas Trading: The Case That Could Change Holiday Pay

The recent tribunal case of Lock v British Gas Trading involved British Gas employee Mr Lock appealing a 2014 ECJ decision that denied his commission payments to be part of his holiday pay. Mr Lock’s successful reversal of the ECJ ruling may have significant changes to the entire UK legislation of whether commission should count as holiday pay for employees of all industry sectors.

Mr Lock’s legal team evoked the Working Time Regulations 1998 to argue that his overall holiday pay should consist of his basic salary along with additional sums that represent the likely volume of commission he would have generated during this period of leave had he of been working.

The appeal was successful and the money was awarded to Mr Lock in May 2015. However, British Gas has appealed the decision on grounds that guaranteed overtime should never be granted as part of holiday pay.

The British Gas legal team claimed: “After considering the decision of the tribunal very carefully, we decided to appeal against it […] we continue to talk to the trade unions about how best to approach holiday pay in the future.”

Should the appeal prove successful at tribunal next year it could result in a major change to UK employment law that would see UK law stand in contrast to the rules of EU legislation. If so, the UK government will be under immense expectation to make permanent changes to its current pay laws for all cases.

But before such changes can be implemented there are several other legal qualms to consider, such as whether forms of additional payment like bonuses and voluntary overtime should also be taken into consideration when judging holiday pay. A required reference period for calculating these payments will also need to be set.

However, if the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) rules in favour of British Gas this can be considered further confirmation that EU regulation simply does not reflect British law and that new legislation needs introducing. Any new ruling on commission pay will only be allowed to take into account cases that are launched from the date of the law change. Cases already facing tribunal or that have been recently dismissed will not be catered for under this new law but could be eligible for review at a later date.

Should British Gas’s appeal be unsuccessful, the EAT ruling will remain in favour of Mr Lock and a second tribunal will also be required in order to determine how to compensate him and take into account how long the referencing period of his case should be.

Furthermore, if the appeal is rejected there will likely be a large number of other employees coming forward to voice similar concerns, which may begin legal measures that could take years to be completely heard.

NHS Apology Given To West London Mental Health Whistleblower

The most prominent mental health trust in the UK has been forced to admit wrongdoing over its treatment of a whistleblower who spoke out over alleged bullying and harassment occurring at the trust. The NHS has now acknowledged that Dr Hayley Dare’s claims were made in good faith and in the interest of the public.


Dr Dare spoke out about a culture of bullying and harassment occurring at 32 institutions currently operated by the West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which includes locations such as Broadmoor high-security hospital. The claims were rejected and even mocked by NHS bosses when Dr Dare first made her claims in 2013.


During a conversation with trust officials, Dr Dare was referred to as a “very disturbed woman” by chief executive Mr Steve Shrubb, who then made unflattering comparisons between the doctor and his own ex-wife in a verbal tirade designed to undermine her credibility both personally and professionally. During the recent tribunal Mr Shrubb apologised for his comments.
The NHS spent a total of £130,000 during its effort to refute the claim even though the organisation admitted it has numerous bullying and harassment issues existing at its facilities around the UK.


Official NHS staff surveys released in 2012 and 2013 clearly show that out of the 51 NHS mental health trusts, the West London Mental Health NHS Trust has by far the poorest records in regards to violence happening against staff due to0 the actions of both patients and colleagues.


This includes nearly a twelfth of all employees who experience a case of physical violence at the hands of a peer. Other results show that 30% of staff at the trust were bullied or harassed in some way during 2013, and that 26% of these cases include acts of discriminative behaviour.


Dr Dare originally lost her tribunal case in September 2014 as a result of a legal technicality that prevented her claims from being considered to have been made in in good faith. However, this technicality was removed from UK employment law since then.


Following the initial ruling the NHS sought to win back the costs it accrued during the legal process, which meant that Dr Dare would have been made to pay back as much as £100,000. However, this was prevented from becoming a reality when judge ruled this unfair at a second tribunal held shortly after the original ruling last year.


With the technicality now void the trust has been forced to admit that Dr Dare “made a disclosure in the public interest about the bullying and harassment of the staff of the [trust] and that this disclosure was made in good faith”.


The trust also paid Dr Dare £10,000 in reparation for the financial costs she paid during her legal struggle.


After the tribunal verdict Dr Dare spoke of her relief:

“I can’t quite express how overwhelmed I feel. This has always been about patient care and staff welfare, which is what whistleblowing should always be about. I never deviated from that so I feel exonerated at last. The trust has spent an obscene amount of taxpayers’ money fighting me. I never acted in bad faith and that was what the case was all about. This has always been about my integrity and the fact that I raised concerns about patient care as a clinician. If you bully staff, patient care will be affected.”


Dr Dare also expressed hope that the result of this case could help other employees gain the confidence to speak out about NHS corruption. With 3,160 staff currently working in the West London Mental Health NHS Trust, and with approximately 700,000 patients being cared for, there is concern that there are many other cases of bullying and harassment being overlooked.


Despite the trust acknowledging Dr Dare’ made her claim in good faith, the organisation did not give a full apology and pointed out that there are a “number of ways in which staff can raise concerns safely” which she should have undertaken before launching an external legal evaluation.

Homosexual Priest Loses Sexuality Discrimination Claim

A gay clergyman who claims he was denied the right to become a hospital chaplain after marrying his lover has lost a discrimination case against the Church of England. Canon Jeremy Pemberton claims that in addition to being denied career opportunities he was also harassed by his bishop, Richward Inwood, due to his personal dislike of homosexuality rather than acting on behalf of the Church of England as claimed.

Canon Pemberton believes that such treatment was in breach of his human rights and violates the UK 2010 Equality Act that grants him the right to officiate as a priest and possess a licence for chaplaincy; a qualification that would have allowed him to work as a bereavement manager at Sherwood NHS.

At tribunal, bishop Inwood, who is the incumbent bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, denied discriminating against Canon Pemberton on personal grounds and stated he was acting in accordance with church doctrine that forbids same-sex marriage.

Tribunal verdict

The Nottingham employment tribunal ruled in favour of bishop Inwood and has supported his decision on grounds that there are a number of alternative options available which would allow Canon Pemberton’s relationship with his partner, Mr Lawrence Cunnington, to be officially recognised by the Church of England, such as entering into a civil partnership.

Canon Pemberton’s legal team dismissed these options by arguing that such alternatives do not prevent discrimination, as they still deny Canon Pemberton and his partner the right to a conventional marriage; a union the two believe should be made available to them as it would any heterosexual couple.

During the tribunal proceedings the judge heard how Canon Pemberton had previously been married to a woman with whom he travelled with while working as a priest. It was revealed that Pemberton did not recognise his true sexuality until 2006 after he suffered a mental breakdown before divorcing his wife and resigning his position at his ministry.

By 2008 Canon Pemberton was in an openly homosexual relationship with his future husband. During that same year he swore the oath of canonical obedience to his bishop and became a licensed community chaplain in the Southwell and Nottingham diocese.

Verdict reactions

Reacting to the verdict, Canon Pemberton stated “We are obviously very disappointed. Our lawyers have considered the judgement and are in the process of preparing the grounds of appeal for submission to the Employment Appeal Tribunal”. He also expressed gratitude to the public who have shown support for his case throughout the proceedings.

The tribunal verdict was well received by the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. A spokesman for the organisation released a statement:

“We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the Right Rev Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him. We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers […] We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality”

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.