Ever been bombarded with forms when starting a new role? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Welcome to the world of compliance declarations!
However bureaucratic this process seems, staff declarations are a vital component of any robust compliance programme.
RegTech solutions are now coming to the fore to streamline the compliance declaration process and reduce the burden on you and your employees.
What is a declaration of compliance?
Declarations of compliance provide evidence to the regulator that firms have taken actionable steps to ensure their employees comply with laws, regulations and internal policies.
Typically, they are short forms, questionnaires or contracts and can cover a number of facets of corporate life, from health and safety protocols to conflicts of interest.
Compliance declarations not only show that regulatory requirements have been met they also demonstrate how the requirements are met by providing evidence of the procedures in place to maintain ongoing compliance.
Examples of compliance declarations
Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments
Part of the 1992 Health and Safety Regulation as an aid to risk assessment. UK Health and Safety laws require DSE workstation risk assessments to be conducted for all workers, whether at home or in the office.
Fit & proper questionnaires (FPQ)
Firms are required to check whether individuals are fit and proper to perform their role on an annual basis and provide evidence of the assessment
Conflicts of interest (COI)
Employees are bound through their employment contract to act in the interest of their employer and not for their own personal gain. A conflict of interest must be declared when an employee’s beneficial situation could negatively impact the company.
Failing to evidence compliance
Failure to evidence compliance can result in substantial penalties; Aviva, for example, was fined circa £17 million in 2015 for failing to manage conflicts of interest fairly. Risks of breaches can be significantly reduced by collecting an auditable document trail, evidencing when issues arose and what was done to mitigate them.
Remote-worker declarations are a challenge
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made the job of compliance managers particularly difficult. The challenges that come with monitoring a fragmented and remote workforce have been well documented over the past 18 months. This means maintaining an up-to-date record of compliance declarations is perhaps more important than ever, but doing so is easier said than done.
Changes to certain regulatory requirements, particularly within the Health and Safety sphere means the documentation needed for staff compliance is constantly evolving.
For example, managers must now follow necessary protocols to ensure workplaces are ‘Covid-secure’, and evidence of such procedures must be provided.
For those working at home, managers maintain responsibility for all aforementioned compliance declarations and the remote working environment makes this even more difficult.
As the future of hybrid work begins to take shape, there is no sign of these challenges letting up, so compliance professionals need to explore ways to execute the compliance declaration process to keep pace with the rapidly changing corporate landscape.
Manual processing is time-consuming & unreliable
Historically, compliance declarations have been distributed, completed and collected using email or physical forms and results are aggregated and analysed in lengthy spreadsheets.
This manual process puts compliance managers on the back foot. Collecting and scrutinising hundreds, if not thousands of staff declarations requires an immense amount of time and resource.
Stretching human resources increases the risk of human error, which may mean compliance issues or record gaps are missed.
How RegTech can help!
Creating declarations and gathering data
RegTech technologies enable managers to build and deliver compliance forms online, ensuring full employee coverage and on-time completions.
Compliance declaration technology can automate communications, reminders and reporting which saves money and time for managers and ensures employees are always completing their required declarations.
Once declarations are completed, data is gathered in a centralised repository and risks or record gaps are highlighted in real-time, meaning managers and compliance officers no longer have to waste time trawling through documents to locate hidden risks.
Automating responses and risk management
RegTech solutions enable managers to set up optional automated responses to offer immediate guidance related to completing forms.
For more serious issues, users can set up automated notifications which are sent to managers and/or compliance departments.
A case management console records alerts which are flagged across all employees, providing a full workflow system with several management layers meaning pressing issues can quickly be passed up the chain of responsibility.
Storing all of these files in one place ultimately means organisations can create audit-ready reports firm-wide with just a few clicks.
So, what are you waiting for?
Digitising compliance declarations is an essential way of reducing organisational and employee compliance risks.
By automating the staff declaration process, managers can save time and resources while reducing the risk of record gaps caused by human error.
The threats of failing to comply are particularly pertinent in today’s climate due to the pace of regulatory change, so it is vital that firms leverage technology to create a flexible and accurate employee compliance programme.
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