Call Centre Charter 2012
Contents 1. Working Time and Workload ................................................. 3 2. Health & Safety ...................................................................... 4 3. Equality ................................................................................... 5 4. Pay and Benefits ..................................................................... 6 5. Targets and Performance Management ............................... 7 6. Representation ....................................................................... 8 7. General ................................................................................... 9 Jargon Buster ........................................................................ 10
On Saturday 12th November 2011 the Communications Workers’ Union held its first Call Centre Forum in Jury’s Croke Park Hotel in Dublin. Organised to mark UNI Global Union’s annual Call Centre Action Month, the event was intended to bring call centre workers from all parts of the country and industry together to discuss how they could help improve their working lives. Large numbers of decent Irish jobs are being ‘off‐shored’ and those jobs that remain are under increasing pressure for ever greater productivity. This pressure causes innumerable problems for workers including unreachable targets, poor work‐life balance and the stress and health issues that result. The CWU believes that call centre workers are no different to any other and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. The aim of the Call Centre Forum was to develop strategies that encourage call centres to operate to the principles of decent work for all employees. Participants were asked to build a ‘Call Centre Charter’. Every aspect of work in the contact centre industry was covered. Breaks and leave, pay and benefits, targets and health and safety were all discussed. The purpose of this exercise was not simply to talk about existing laws, it was about the ideal conditions that we would all hope to work under in a call centre environment. All these standards are compiled into this Charter for call centre working. This document can be used to engage with employers to adopt these best practices and to recognise where there is room for improvement in workplaces.
1. Working Time and Workload Full compliance with Organisation of Working Time Act (OWT) Adequate break times and rest periods Clear policies on Maternity leave/ Parental leave/ Carer’s leave/ Force Majeure In the interest of equality, employers to provide Paternity leave for new fathers Consideration to be given to employees’ circumstances: Compassionate leave/ Honeymoon leave/ Time in Lieu/ Flexi‐time Adequate notice of shifts (minimum one month). Call centre staff must be able to balance the needs of their personal and working lives to allow for childcare, rest and recreation The ability to carry forward Annual leave and realistic consultation on when leave can be taken Work‐life balance taken into account: career breaks, unpaid leave and term time Comprehensive sick leave policy Sufficient staffing levels to ensure: - That customer satisfaction levels can be effectively managed - Time available for training, team briefings and meetings - Leave and other absences are suitably covered - That employees can balance work, family commitments and recreation
2. Health & Safety Application of all applicable Health and Safety standards, including: - Eye tests - Glasses - Suitable equipment - Regular Visual Display Unit (VDU) breaks - Appropriate lighting and heating, availability of fresh air - Cleanliness Adequate time for non‐call actions to be factored into targets, including: - Administrative tasks - Bathroom breaks - Getting a glass of water - System issues To tackle the issues of stress and bullying, a Dignity at Work policy should be put in place Training at induction and refresher courses in stress management and bullying & harassment policies Equipment to meet best practice standards: - Comfortable, adjustable seating - Ergonomic workstations - Volume restricted telephone equipment - Regularly maintained headsets Training and release for Health & Safety Reps in the workplace Facilities for the election of Health & Safety Reps should be made available
3. Equality* No discrimination on any of the nine grounds: ‐ gender ‐ marital status ‐ family status ‐ sexual orientation ‐ religion ‐ age ‐ race ‐ member of traveller community ‐ disability Equal treatment and respect for agency, part‐time, and fixed‐term workers Comparable work should attract comparable benefits, for example access to sick leave for agency/ part‐time workers Where possible, permanent full‐time positions should be offered to agency/ part‐time workers Equal access to training for all workers * The CWU offers Equality Representative training to members who can assist with equality related matters
4. Pay and Benefits Comparable wages and benefits for equivalent work (i.e. agency workers) Premium payments for nights and weekends (shift allowance) Clearly defined premium for Sunday working Emphasis on salary over bonuses, as bonuses are more vulnerable to cuts Service leave – longer service should equal longer leave Incremental salary benefits for longer service Access to paid Sick leave Paid Maternity leave Redundancy – negotiated redundancy packages
5. Targets and Performance Management Targets must be fair and reasonable - SMART targets: Specific, Measureable, Action‐based, Realistic, and Time‐based - Set at an achievable level for minimums and for bonuses/ commission Employees should be consulted to give input when targets are being set All targets and any changes must be communicated to workforce Performance management should be designed to improve worker performance and to provide better service to customers, not to punish or manage‐out employees Support, coaching, and counselling should be offered to improve performance Adequate and on‐going training given to be familiar with role, all operational systems, new technologies/ processes etc Opportunity to address any issues prior to being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Performance reviews and PIPs should factor in any issues that might affect reaching targets but which are outside of employee control, i.e. technical problems, personal circumstances, weather, difficult customers, customer satisfaction, etc
6. Representation Recognition of all employees’ right to join trade unions Right of trade unions to represent workers in: - Collective bargaining - Grievance & Disciplinary procedures - Settlement of disputes - Negotiations and consultations in all matters affecting jobs and training Workers’ representatives must not be discriminated against and full access to all workplaces necessary to enable them to carry out their representation functions Develop positive working relationships with union and work to develop good communication of events in the company (i.e. changes in policy) Time off for union activities and access to facilities if needed Space in workplace for noticeboard Internet access to trade union website to ensure access to vital information relevant to their rights at work
7. General The CWU believes that all workers are entitled to: Respect and dignity in the workplace Fair representation and treatment A strong voice for employees Control, ownership, and pride in their work
Jargon Buster Agency Worker Workers engaged through, or by, an employment agency or bureau and supplied to a hiring employer on a temporary basis. Some agencies employ their workers directly and should therefore provide their staff with a contract of employment. Casual Worker There is no definition of 'casual employees' in employment law in Ireland. In reality, casual workers are on standby to do work as required without fixed hours or attendance arrangements. However, these workers are employees, for employment rights purposes. Collective Bargaining A process of negotiation between an employer and a trade union representing a group of employees to settle pay and other terms and conditions of employment. Disciplinary Hearing A formal hearing organised by your employer where you are required to attend and answer for alleged unsatisfactory performance/ behaviour. You should only attend this meeting with trade union representation, which you are entitled to. Discrimination Treating someone unfairly for reasons other than their ability to do their job. The nine grounds for discrimination as stated in the Employment Equality Act 2004 are: Gender, Marital status, Family status, Sexual orientation, Religion, Age, Disability, Race, and membership of the Travelling community. Fixed Term Contract A contract of employment that expires on a date specified in the contract. Force Majeure Leave An employee is entitled to leave with pay from his or her employment for urgent family reasons, owing to the injury or illness of ‐ a child or adoptive child of the employee; The spouse of the employee, or a person with whom the employee is living as husband or wife; A person to whom the employee is ‘in loco parentis’; A brother or sister of the employee; A parent or grandparent of the employee; Persons in a relationship of domestic dependency, including same sex partners. If a member of your close family dies you have no entitlement to force majeure leave. Other compassionate leave not covered by force majeure leave will depend on your employment contract, custom and practice within your workplace or the employer's discretion. Grievance Procedure A formal way of resolving a problem you have at work. There is a minimum statutory procedure which should be followed if your employer does not have a policy of their own. Many good employers, however, will have their own policy which goes further than the minimum. You have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a union representative in a grievance hearing.
Harassment Offensive, bullying, threatening or otherwise inappropriate behaviour by a manager or colleague. Maternity Leave Time off work for pregnancy/ childbirth. Currently 26 weeks. You are entitled to a social welfare payment while on maternity leave. The minimum weekly payment is €230.30 up to a maximum of €280. You are also entitled to take a further 16 weeks’ additional maternity leave, but this period is not covered by Maternity Benefit, nor is your employer obliged, unless otherwise agreed, to make any payment during this period. Night Workers Normally work at least 3 hours of their daily working time at night or the annual number of hours worked at night equals or exceeds 50% of annual working time. Night is defined as the period between midnight and 7am the following day. Parental Leave The mother and father of a child are entitled to fourteen weeks unpaid parental leave in separate blocks of a minimum of six continuous weeks. Time spent on parental leave can be used to accumulate your annual leave entitlement. Paternity Leave Paternity leave is not recognised in employment law in Ireland. In other words, employers are not obliged to grant male employees special paternity leave (either paid or unpaid) following the birth of their child. However some unionised employers in Ireland do provide a period of paid leave from work for male employees following the birth or adoption of their child. Redundancy Generally a redundancy situation arises if your job ceases to exist and you are not replaced. The reasoning for the redundancy situation could be the financial position of the firm, lack of work, reorganisation within the firm or it may be closing down completely. Representation You have the legal right to trade union representation at grievance and/ or disciplinary hearings. Union Recognition When an employer agrees that their employees can be represented collectively by a trade union. Victimisation Being unfairly singled out for bad treatment of some kind. This is quite likely to be illegal because of the grounds chosen to single you out (for example because of your race or because of your trade union activities) and because your employer owes you a general duty of care. Working Time Act 1997 Legislation to ensure workers have adequate time off and rest periods.
As a Union with vast experience in the telecoms and call centre industries, the CWU is familiar with the challenges facing workers and has a proven track record in representing members’ interests. In recognition of the unique challenges facing this group of workers and given that it is fastest growing section of the CWU we have a dedicated website which can be accessed here www.callcentreunion.ie
Communications Workers’ Union William Norton House
Tel: 01 866 3000 Fax: 01 866 3099
575‐577 North Cicular Road
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.callcentreunion.ie
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