A modest proposal to the FSA

The UK Financial Services Authority has been on the receiving end of a fair amount of abuse over the past few years, much of it justified. Being a kind-hearted soul, I have a modest proposal to get my mate Hector back in the good books of the public and government.

You may be surprised to learn that the strict standards in the railway safety industry (if your company is on a contract for Network Rail, they can turn up at your workplace and demand you submit to drug or alcohol testing) do not apply for FSA-registered individuals. Banks may tell their FSA-registered employees that they are subject to random drug or alcohol tests, but I assure you that this doesn't happen in practice. Heck, why would it? If as a bank you feel you can adequately monitor an individual's trading performance, why would you want to rock the boat by testing that employee unless he's making a loss and you're looking for additional grounds to fire him?

So let's have the FSA declare that a random drug and alcohol testing regime will apply for FSA-registered individuals at any UK-located branch of a financial institution with over 25 registered employees in that location, from Jan 1st 2012. The testing unit turns up having given 1 hour notice and get witnessed (yes, watched wizzes) pee samples from randomly selected 2% of the registered employees. The employer gets the results. Anyone with significant intoxicant samples goes straight to a board where they can appeal the pending loss of their FSA registration. Operating costs come out of existing FSA operational funds, so no additional operating costs to existing firms with unintoxicated employees.

The FSA gets to do something useful and popular; the programme gives a significant boost to the UK drug testing industry in time for other events; the government gets to point at something concrete being done to counter the drug-addled dipshits depicted in popular culture renditions of the City; the City gets something to point to and deflect such future criticism of their employees. What's not to like?

[It may strike the reader as incongruous that we don't similarly test Civil Service and Government members engaged in decision making of equal import compared to the railway and financial services domains. Your correspondent can only invite the reader to draw the appropriate inference for future action.]

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