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Covid-19 and Call/Contact Centre Workers: Intermediate Report

The STUC is supporting the seven recommendations of a survey undertaken by Professor Phil Taylor of Stratchlyde University into the experiences of contact and call centre workers during the COVID 19 crisis.

Initiated in late March and continuing throughout the period of the crisis, then survey has lifted the lid on widespread fear among call centre workers in Scotland and across the UK.

As an increase in return to work in call and contact centres is contemplated, now is the time for workers to get organised.

The report can be downloaded [here.](

The survey is still open and can be filled out by any call centre or contact worker, with annonymity guaranteed. Go here.

In media comment issued on 2nd May, the STUC voiced major concerns over for the health of workers and said it was deeply worried about future plans for increasing the numbers attending the workplace given the expereinces of call centre workers at the current time when many are still required to attend the workplace.

Nearly 3000 respondents to the survey have provided almost 200,000 words of testimony to the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had and is having on them, their colleagues and families. One commented: ‘Call centres are like petri dishes and it is very easy for something to be passed around, especially during a pandemic’.

• Over 8O% believe that it is likely that that will catch Covid-19’ with over 90% agreeing with the statement, ‘I am worried I will give Covid-19 to family or friends’.

• Seven in ten (69.7%) said they were currently ‘very scared,’ an increase from 58% seven days previously.

• Providing a stark warning of problems to come when return to work is considered, 59% reported that they were either ‘much more worried’ or even ‘terrified’ at the prospect of having to attend their workplace.

• 37.8% of respondents stated that they were seated less than the required 2 metres, with one in six (16.4%) reporting that they were a mere 1.5 metres distant or less.

• Whilst half of workers reported that the 2m rule was being applied for desk arrangements, almost three-quarters (73%) believed that social distancing when moving around the building was either ‘hazardous’ or ‘very hazardous’.

• Forty-five per cent consider management to have been either ‘ineffective’ or ‘very ineffective’ in ‘taking the necessary steps to ensure social distancing’.

• A sizeable number raised the fact that providing face masks would be an important initiative in instilling confidence for call-handlers when having to leave their desks and circulate. However, an answer to another question demonstrated that only 4.3% of those surveyed reported that their organisation had taken such a measure that could be hugely significant for workers’ physical safety

Commenting on the intermediate STUC General Secretary Designate, Rozanne Foyer pointed to the fact that many call centre workers are key workers and that they have been undervalued in terms of the work they do and the reward they receive. This is reflected in the way many are being treated during this crisis when it comes to health and safety.

She pointed to the fact that the report revealed high levels of fear and anxiety, clear and systemic breaches of guidelines and, in many cases, a working environment which is prone to the spread of illness and disease.

The reports findings thus far, confirms information which the STUC has been receiving through direct contact from call centre workers. Hundreds more have contacted MPs and MSPs because the employer does not recognise a trade union.

The STUC urges call centre workers to respond contacct the STUC or their unionto this so that we can build the fullest possible picture of what needs to be done. It is vital that workers join a union and that employers open up their doors to union organisers and health and safety reps, so that we can being to get this situation sorted.

Online survey

[Download report](