UNITED KINGDOM: A multinational call centre, Teleperformance used by dozens of leading U.K. companies, has been criticised for what unions have called the “intrusive monitoring of home-working staff and their families”, as well as asking workers to hand over biometric and medical data.
Unions say the call centre is “pushing workers’ boundaries” over long-term work from home amid coronavirus, and accuse the company of having unfairly targeted huge staff who objected.
Teleperformance, also answers calls for a series of U.K. government departments.
The revelations come after some UK-based Teleperformance home workers were told in March this year to expect remote monitoring by video cameras, to keep tabs: whether they were eating, looking at their phones or leaving their desks.
After U.K. employees contacted the Guardian they were told this would not happen.
One staff member from a call centre in Albania who dealt with British customers said that after she objected to video monitoring while working in her parents’ home she was dismissed, despite having recently been promoted.
One Colombian staff member said: “Every day you feel like you have no privacy. It’s our faces, our lives. It’s our space in our homes, our families. We don’t want this, but we’ve got to do it, to get the work.”
“Before that, everything was going fine. I was doing well, I’d been promoted,” she said.
Teleperformance staff in Greece, that deal with calls from the U.K., have been told that at home they must have a “segregated work area free from distraction and all background noise.”
Not only that, staff who are paid anything over the local minimum wage, currently €9,100 (£7,700) year, are expected to provide this separated workspace and cover any other costs, such as internet and electricity.
However, the French-based company, which employs about 380,000 people in 34 countries, claims to abide by all local and international laws, adding that feedback from staff shows overwhelmingly positive responses.
Teleperformance insists the U.K. rollout of video cameras was never for remote monitoring, just training and colleague chats.
Christy Hoffman, the general secretary of UNI Global Union, said such home surveillance “forces workers to make a choice between being spied upon and being employed”.