Exclusive-BP tightens its labor relations policy after Looney’s dismissal

By Sarah McFarlane, Ron Bousso and Dmitry Zhdannikov

LONDON (Reuters) – BP employees must disclose any intimate relationships with colleagues or risk losing their jobs, the oil major said in a policy update, following the sacking of former CEO Bernard Looney for not having done it.

The updated conflicts of interest policy, which was communicated to staff by email last week and seen by Reuters, highlights how Looney’s sudden departure last September continues to impact the company .

The updated policy “prohibits employees from directly or indirectly managing loved ones or people with whom they have an intimate relationship,” according to the memo.

The London-listed company said employees would face disciplinary action, or even dismissal, for failing to comply with the new requirements.

In addition to the updated policy, which is part of BP’s code of conduct, thousands of senior executives are required to disclose any intimate relationships with employees or agency workers that occurred in the past three years. Leaders were given a three-month grace period until September 1 to make such declarations.

BP has confirmed the updated policy regarding conflicts of interest arising from family and intimate relationships at work.

“Employees were previously required to disclose and record such relationships if they believed there might be a conflict of interest,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Now they are required to disclose their intimate relationships at work, whether or not they believe they represent a conflict of interest.”

BP concluded its investigation into Looney’s conduct with the help of law firm Freshfields earlier this year and has not disclosed its findings, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“The board has reviewed the details and is ensuring that the themes and lessons are considered and adopted appropriately,” BP said in the emailed statement.

BP’s board fired Looney last December and took back up to $40 million of his compensation. The company said Looney knowingly misled the board by failing to disclose his past relationships.

Looney’s departure came after the board investigated similar allegations against him in May 2022, following which Looney gave the board assurances about his past and future conduct.

BP shares have fallen more than 11% since Looney’s departure, underperforming rivals amid continued investor concerns about the company’s energy transition strategy. Its new CEO, Murray Auchincloss, who took over in January, has sought to steady the ship by promising to increase returns.

The Auchincloss associate is also a BP employee, a relationship he disclosed before becoming CFO in 2020.

($1 = 0.7859 pounds)

(Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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