Cyber Security Breaches Are Greatest Staff-Related Risk, According to Attendees of Walkers’ Employment Conference on Equipping the Board

Cyber security breaches are overwhelmingly the greatest staff-related risk for a financial services business, according to a survey of Channel Island employers at Walkers' three-day virtual employment law conference.

Employers surveyed also revealed that over three-quarters of businesses had "significantly" or "moderately" changed their employment policies as a result of the impact of Covid-19.

The results are among the findings of polls of senior HR professionals and business leaders at Walkers' three-day virtual employment conference on "Equipping the Board: Using Employment Law Tools to Navigate Risks and Drive Success" in October, which featured sessions from the firm's employment law teams in Guernsey, Jersey and Ireland. The conference, which focused on employment law tools for boards and senior managers, included a pre-recorded warm-up session and three live webinars on good governance, regulatory expectations and futureproofing your business.

Group Partner Sarah Ash, from the firm's Guernsey employment law team, said: "It has been a challenging 18 months for businesses of all kinds, and the survey results show the impact that employers are feeling as we continue to emerge from the disruption caused by Covid-19.

"Our experience advising employers mainly in financial services shows that issues including IT security for home workers are increasingly front-and-centre for HR teams and business leaders. We fully expect to see continued focus by employers on how they can adjust and improve their working practices to both recruit and retain key talent."

The key findings of the survey include:

  • 70% see a cyber-security breach as the greatest staff-related risk for a regulated financial services business – way ahead of employees leaving (16%) and employees working from home (10%)
  • 57% of employers said Covid-19 has changed their policies, procedures and systems "moderately". In contrast many fewer have updated their contractual employment documentation with 81% not having made changes to their employment contracts as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • In terms of recruiting staff, 87% of employers had been asked by candidates about work life balance and 70% about hybrid working when recruiting
  • 56% of employers surveyed are currently finding it significantly more difficult recruiting candidates for the roles available within their organisation
Daniel Read, Senior Counsel in Walkers' Jersey employment law team, added: "The experience of the past two years has clearly changed attitudes to working from home amongst both employers and employees. It is interesting to see that so few employers see it as a major staff-related risk. The real point to note is that so many employees are raising hybrid-working arrangements during the interview process – those results in particular would have been very different pre-pandemic."

Victoria Pratt, Senior Counsel in Walkers' Guernsey employment law team, said: "The feedback that we are seeing from HR professionals and business leaders echo our predictions from last year's conference that Covid-19 will have a long term impact on the workplace, even after the restrictions have been lifted. The work place has changed.

"Many businesses have taken opportunities to learn from the pandemic experience and to work differently and hopefully better. Workplaces have not simply returned to how they used to operate."

Walkers' team of specialist Channel Islands employment lawyers have a wealth of experience in advising local and international employers, including regulated businesses, on the full range of non-contentious and contentious employment law issues, as well as providing support on corporate M&A transactions and dealing with regulatory issues involving employees. The team includes specialists in employment disputes in the tribunals and Royal Courts in both islands, and advising on the full range of discrimination and HR issues, reviewing and revising policies and procedures, and on the intersection between data protection and employment law.

Sarah AshGroup Partner*T +44 (0) 1481 748
Victoria PrattSenior CounselT +44 (0)1481 748

Daniel ReadPartnerT +44 (0) 1534 700
Jenny BruntonAssociateT +44 (0) 1534 700

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