INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Extension of Call Recording System to Head Office customer service areas.
2. The issue before the Court is the Company’s wish to extend a call recording system to a number of customer services areas in its Head Office in Dublin. The Company already has such a system in its customer service centre in Dundalk which has operated for a number of years. The Company maintains that call recording is a critical part of its “in touch” customer service improvements programme.
The Union does not accept the need for call recording and consider it to be unnecessary, intrusive and open to widespread abuse. A number of local meetings were held at which it proved impossible to make any progress.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to The Labour Court on the 25th July, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th October, 2005.
3.1 The Union accepts in principle Customer Call Recording but it is both to the extent to and manner in which the Company wishes to utilise it that are in dispute.
2. The recording of telephone calls (particularly private calls) is an extremely sensitive issue for workers not least from the perspectives of privacy and trust. The Union is requesting that a number of non-recording extensions be made available to staff for private use.
3. The Union maintains that any recordings must be strictly controlled and limited to as few individuals at a senior level as is practicable.
4. In the Company's Code of Practice their position is that any manager or anyone designated by the manager should have full and unrestricted access to the recordings. This would mean that more than 25% of the workforce would have access to these recordings which is unacceptable to the Union.
5 The Union recognises that technology and the reducing cost of digital storage means that it is becoming relatively inexpensive for Companies to record and store virtually all communications by staff with the outside world. The reducing costs should not, however, mean that the Company can introduce a catch-all system without first assessing the real legitimate business case.
4.1 The Company has a legitimate business requirement to extend call recording to its Retail Customer Service Areas in Head Office.
2. Customer call-recording is an essential element of the Company's Customer Service Strategy, viz:-
- It will facilitate the Company's plans to increase the number and type of customer instructions which can be taken over the phone and dispense with the need for written confirmation.
- It will enable the Company to verify facts in the event of disputes with customers. This will act as a protection for both the Company and staff.
- It will facilitate the establishment and maintenance of call-handling standards by enabling staff to review their calls and receive coaching to improve their call handling skills.
4. The Company believes they have addressed the concerns raised by the Union and do not accept the constraints that the Union wishes to place on the Company in relation to usage of the system. The Union's proposals would frustrate the planned operation of call-recording to such an extent that it would be unworkable.
5. The Company has made every effort to address any legitimate concerns expressed by the Union.
6. This system has been in operation in the Dundalk Centre since 2001 and there have been no staff relations problems there. The Company is committed to and capable of using the system to support the Customer Service Agenda in a way that has the support and approval of both staff and the Union.
The Court is satisfied that a sustainable case has been made out for the introduction of a system of call-recording along the general lines outlined by management. The Court does, however, accept that the staff have legitimate concerns in relation to the operation of the system. In the Court's view these concerns should be more fully addressed. Accordingly the Court recommends as follows:
The Company's proposals should be accepted and introduced subject to the following amendments:
1. A facility should be provided which would allow staff to make private calls, in the circumstances in which such calls are allowed, on phone extensions which are not subject to recording. The facility should also be available for the conduct of official trade union business by appropriate personnel.
2. The Code of Practice on the use of the system should be modified so as to distinguish between the frequency of and circumstances in which calls will be monitored as between new staff and long-serving staff. This should reflect the different training and coaching requirements of those respective categories of staff.
3. The operation of the system should be jointly reviewed after it has been in operation for a period of twelve months.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.