With a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly well underway and restrictions tightening across the country, it is without doubt that remote working will continue to be the norm for many employees for the foreseeable future. The potential issues this raises for employers in relation to data security and the protection of confidential information were brought into focus last week, with the Financial Conduct Authority’s Director of Market Oversight, Julia Hoggett, warning banks that their security arrangements for staff privy to insider information should be the same whether those staff are working remotely or from the office, highlighting the difficulties in ensuring insider information is kept from partners or flatmates, and the risk of use of privately owned devices where employees’ activities cannot be recorded.

While Ms Hoggett’s comments related to the increased risks of insider trading posed by remote working, they act as a reminder to employers of the increased risks posed by the current situation in relation to protecting confidential and/or sensitive information generally. Employers should consider updating their policies regarding the protection of confidential information to ensure that they are appropriate in the current climate, and ensure that staff are: (i) aware of them; and (ii) have received appropriate training on the increased risks to confidential information when working from home.

You can read Ms Hoggett’s speech at the City Financial Global event in full at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/speeches/market-abuse-coronavirus.