Pinsent Masons launches online tool to spot future home-working related litigation for financial services firms

15 Jul 2021 | 11:39 am | 1 min. read

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has launched a new working-from home audit tool to help financial services organisations understand the hidden litigation and regulatory risks associated with staff increasingly working from home on a more permanent basis.

With many employers now, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, changing their working patterns to permanently allow more staff to work from home than ever before, they may not have considered the extent to which policies and procedures will need to be updated to account for this, leaving them exposed to potentially costly future legal issues.

Pinsent Masons’ employment, litigation, regulatory and white-collar crime teams have produced a toolkit to help financial services organisations identify potential risk areas with their current arrangements or future-working proposals.

Organisations are asked to complete a short questionnaire covering a range of topics including confidentiality, whistleblowing and employee fraud risks. Upon completion they will receive a summary report highlighting the main areas of risk and best course of action to remedy the identified concerns.

Questions include topics around auditing the completion of mandatory key compliance issues, restricting access to printing / USB downloads, the extent of firms’ risk-assessment preparedness and whether employee monitoring practices, and fitness and propriety assessments, have been revised in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Employment partner at Pinsent Masons Dr Anne Sammon commented:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many financial services institutions quickly adapt to ensure that staff are able to work from home and to acclimatise to an almost entirely remote workforce. Now, as we look to the future of work and with many people continuing to work from home, it is vital that policies and procedures are future-proofed".

The financial services sector is highly regulated, meaning that extra considerations are needed, for example under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, senior managers are required to document the measures they are taking to ensure effective control of the parts of the business they are responsible for (namely that they have taken reasonable steps). With staff being in the office less frequently, many employers may not have properly considered how a more permanent change to home working may impact this requirement.”

Tax and white-collar fraud partner Andrew Sackey said:

"An important part of any compliance programme is the need to monitor and review the risks faced by your business and your corresponding controls. It’s advisable to re-examine normal review cycles as part of businesses post Covid-19 thinking as, even if you benefitted from a gold standard compliance programme in January 2020, the world of remote working has changed all of our experiences - the compliance question we should all be asking is ‘are those pre-Covid controls still fit for purpose’. This tool-kit is a great way to stress test (and demonstrate that you’ve stress-tested) your controls.”

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