Employment Issues / In the News

Has Elvis left the building? Making sure dismissed employees actually leave

Business EditionI joined BBC World Business Edition on 5 August 2013 (video below) to discuss the curious case of KK Ho, a redundant employee who reinvented himself as a bonds salesman on the trading floor.

Mr Ho was given time to find new employment after being made redundant from his management role in the Property Maintenance Services division of the Royal Bank of Scotland. But rather than getting on with his job search, he set himself up on the trading floor, had his own business cards printed and identified himself as a bond salesman to customers and to executives in internal meetings. He impressed with his talk about rich clients he knew until someone eventually queried who he was and where he had come from.

RBS informed the Financial Conduct Authority, the financial regulator, but otherwise kept the matter private until another employment tribunal claim exposed the story. Mr Ho had no authority to trade and RBS has confirmed that no regulated activity was performed by him.

So long, farewell

When dismissing employees, it is essential that a sensible checklist is ticked off to reduce the risk of any future liability attaching to the organisation or association made with the dismissed employee.

The contract of employment is a good place to start, to ensure that the employee is made aware of what post-termination restrictions may be in place; what property should be returned to the employer and when; any payments, loans, holiday pay or salary may be outstanding.

In addition, more ‘commonsense’ steps should be taken, such as:

  • revoking email access;
  • cancelling phone contracts;
  • disbarring access cards or key fobs;
  • destroying unissued business cards;
  • removal from website, regulatory roll, companies house (where necessary).

It is easy to forget some of these things, especially at times where there may be a number of individuals affected at one time, but simple checks can assist and reduce any future risk.

In the present case, bankers selling investments or advising on them in the U.K. need to be approved by the FCA. RBS could still be found liable and face a financial penalty for failing in its duties towards the profession and consumers, particularly during a time of such turmoil in the financial sector.

There is further cause for concern as the incident will cause concern, embarrassment and potentially reputational damage to the bank and to the managers with whom the employee had been working during his frolic as a bond salesman.

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