In an update to its Coronavirus guidance the regulator said it was responding to the recent cancellation or postponement of exams by many professional bodies.
The regulator said: “We expect this to have an impact on firms that must ensure their employees complete appropriate qualifications within a specific time limit, in line with FCA requirements.”
The change means that employees will now have up to 60 months to pass professional exams, rather than the 48 month limit that previously applied.
The FCA said it would not take action against a firm or accountable individual who is unable to ensure that an employee has attained an appropriate qualification within the required 48 months (TC 2.2A.1R) because the relevant examinations were cancelled or postponed.
Where exams have been pushed back the FCA will treat the time limit for attaining the appropriate qualification as ‘within 48 months or, where necessary, as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards, up to a further 12 months’ instead of ‘within 48 months’.
Firms will need to assess and decide if an extension should be granted to an employee and record the reasons for this.
The watchdog said a firm’s affected employees would include employees that have a registered or booked examination dates which have been cancelled or postponed by the examination provider or by the firm.
Cancellation by a firm can include cases where an employee is needed to carry out extra duties to manage risk or provide support to consumers and businesses during the emergency and where it is “not realistic” to expect the employee to also fulfil the qualification requirement.
The FCA will adopt this temporary approach to professional qualifications until 31 October.
The FCA has also updated many of its consultation periods and deferred other regulatory plans. See https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/information-firms-coronavirus-covid-19-response#revisions