Unite, the union representing staff at the Financial Conduct Authority has today (Monday 13 December) raised grave concerns about the City regulator’s pay and grading consultation, due to close in 7 days’ time.

Union members have formally written to the FCA CEO, Nikhil Rathi to express strong staff anxieties about the regulator’s ability to meet its legal responsibilities and regulatory functions as a result of this consultation. Unite has made it clear that the consultation lacks transparency, withholds key information from the workforce and has serious equality implications if the changes are imposed as planned.

Dominic Hook, Unite national officer said: “The Financial Conduct Authority must step back from the fundamentally flawed pay and conditions consultation which will deeply impact the workforce across the regulator. Unite has today written to the CEO, Nikhil Rathi to clearly set out staff concerns and call for the process to be paused.

“Despite Unite having spent months calling for more information and for the FCA to have meaningful discussions with its workforce the management continue to dismiss staff concerns and have thus far failed to justify these damaging proposals.

“Unite the union will continue to speak up for the regulator’s employees who the leadership simply dismiss as making ‘noise’. The dedicated and committed workforce in London and Edinburgh deserve much better treatment than they are currently recieving.

“It is not too late for the FCA to resolve this situation and show their staff that they value their tireless efforts throughout the last 18 months and their commitment to being the best possible regulator it can be.”

Key Unite concerns about the current FCA proposals being rushed through include:

1.  Double standards in benchmarking FCA staff and those at the top of the regulator:  While most staff will see their pay cut by at least 10%, senior executives will see their pay bands uplifted. Senior FCA staff already receive significantly higher pay than other regulators at 7.5x median pay. This compares, for example, to 5.7x at Ofcom and 3.8x at the Competition and Markets Authority. Forty of the FCA’s most senior officials already earn more than the Prime Minister.

2.   Impact on equality: senior executives have, despite repeated staff requests, refused to release the full ‘Equality Impact Assessment’ carried out as part of the consultation. Lower paid staff, who are disproportionally from minority ethnic communities, those on maternity leave, carers and part time staff are likely to do worse in terms of performance scoring if a grading curve is imposed. Yet staff FCA have not had sight of any assessment of how this risk will be managed when performance-related pay is decided. This has been repeatedly denied to them.

3.   ‘Levelling down’ across FCA offices: FCA staff in Edinburgh will be particularly hard-hit by the proposals to salary changes outside London. Many are already at or near the proposed new maximum pay band for their grades and Edinburgh is a notoriously expensive city in which to live. Pay ranges for proposed offices in Leeds and Belfast will also be significantly lower, creating a ‘levelling down’ reality that goes against current Government claims to be levelling up.

4.   Graduates discriminated against: The FCA’s flagship graduate programme has been seriously damaged. While contractually defined as ‘Associates’, and expected to perform to that level, both current and new graduates will not be uplifted to the Associate pay band. A highly publicised part of the Graduate programme – the external secondment scheme – was abruptly ended in January 2021. Given the importance of graduates as a pipeline of skilled talent, the collapse in graduate staff morale is extremely concerning.