The FCA updates guidance on identifying key workers

29 September 2020

Following on from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s instruction that those who can work from home, should, in the latest of a raft of lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the ‘second wave’ of coronavirus, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has updated its guidance on identifying key workers.

The advice is that office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the Winter months, but that those who cannot work from home should attend their place of work. The financial services industry has broadly continued operating throughout the pandemic, with a mix of homeworking and some individuals working in locations such as branches and call centres.

The FCA highlights the fact that it is imperative for financial services firms to continue with the identification and monitoring of key workers, in order to ensure that they respond effectively should there be any further lockdowns, on either a local or national level. Key financial workers at dual-regulated, FCA solo-regulated firms, PSR-regulated firms, or operators of financial market infrastructure, carry out roles which are integral to the firm being able to carry on providing essential daily financial services to consumers, or to ensure the continued functioning of markets.

The FCA advises that firms are in the best position to determine which staff are essential for this provision of financial services. In order to establish which individuals are key workers, firms should first clarify which activities, services or operations, would result in the disruption of essential services to the real economy or financial stability, if they were interrupted. Following that, firms should then decide which individuals are required in order to support these functions. Any critical oustource partners who are critical to the continued provision of services should also be identified, even where they are not necessarily financial services firms.

The recommendation is that the Chief Executive Senior Management should be responsible for putting processes in place that mean that only roles meeting the above definition are designated, and that in any businesses who do not have a Chief Executive Senior Manager, the most relevant member of the senior management team adopts this responsibility.

Roles that may be considered as providing essential services include:

  • Those essential in the overall management of the company
  • Those essential in the running of online services and processing
  • Those required for the running of branches, and providing essential customer services, such as dealing with consumer queries (including via call centres), client money and assets, and those maintaining access to cash and other payment services
  • Those essential to the functioning of payments processing, and of cash distribution services
  • Those required in facilitating corporate and retail lending, and administering the repayment of debt
  • Those essential in both the processing of claims, and renewal of insurance
  • Individuals who are essential in the operation of trading venues, and other critical elements of market infrastructure
  • Risk management, compliance, audit and other functions that are required to ensure that the firm meets both the needs of its customers, and its regulatory obligations
  • Any person who provides essential support which allows the functioning of the previously listed roles, such as finance and IT staff

Firms should explore the possibility of providing a letter to employees, including new joiners, who are classified as key workers, in case they need to provide evidence of this at any point. The FCA instructs that the letter should include the sentence, “The individual has been designated as a key worker in relation to their employment by [firm name]”. The letter should also be signed by an individual who has the appropriate authority.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.