Lawsuits filed against call centers allege employees are routinely required to perform duties such as logging on to computer servers, running a suite of programs and downloading customer information before the start of their shift. They further allege that they are automatically clocked out at the scheduled end of their shift, even if at the time they are still involved in assisting a customer on the phone. Once off the phone, they must then log out of their computer systems.
According to lawsuits, it can take up to 10 minutes to log in per shift and additional time to wrap up phone calls and log out after a shift. All this is allegedly done without proper compensation.
While some might argue that it is to the employee’s benefit to carry out those duties, the US Department of Labor disagrees. In “Fact Sheet #64: Call Centers under the Fair Labor Standards Act” (revised July 2008), the Department notes that covered employees must be paid for all hours worked in a week. Under the Department of Labor’s definition, hours worked include time spent “from the beginning of the first principal activity of the workday to the end of the last principal activity of the workday.”
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In other words, if the processes are required for the employee to perform his or her job duties, then he or she must be paid for time spent undergoing those processes. Those 10 minutes at the start and end of every shift - and, according to some lawsuits, at meal breaks - can add up to a lot, especially if they affect a person already working 40 hours a week. Such a person could be entitled to overtime pay for time spent logging on to and off of computer systems.
Lawsuits have reportedly been filed against call centers including Sykes, alleging employees are routinely not paid adequately for all their time spent in job-related tasks as outlined by the Department of Labor Fact Sheet.