201701.05
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Call Centre Workers Suffer Mental Health

Call centres across the globe often receive criticism for low pay and restrictive working practices. The UK is no exception, although work practices do appear to have improved in recent times. However, according to research people working in call centres face a risk of mental health problems.

Many people remember ‘The Call Centre’, a BBC3 fly-on-the-wall documentary that ran between 2013-14 for 2 series. It was extremely call centre work related stress compensation claimspopular. Following its broadcast, call centres briefly became hip and cool places to work. At least, this description for the youthful and slightly naive didn’t last. The Swansea call centre featured in the documentary eventually went bust bringing the TV series to a crashing end.

A trade union survey discovered that call centre workers’ well-being and general health was negatively affected. Unison quoted that more than 65 per cent of workers complained of eyestrain, and hearing problems. Many call centre workers spend long amounts of time listening to phone headsets and staring at computer screens. Some staff even reported limited toilet breaks.

Traditionally working in a call centre has meant conforming to strict key performance indicators and hitting agreed targets, which many are unable to hit, with staff hiring and turn-over unpredictable. According to the union 80 per cent of those surveyed admitted some form of stress. A small proportion of which were nervous breakdowns.

Any employer has a duty of care to its employees to provide fit and healthy working conditions. From the data provided by Unison it is now likely that compensation claims could be brought against some companies. Otherwise parliament must engineer in new changes to thrust upon the current call centre culture.