SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed Senate Bill No. 57, or the “Magna Carta for Call Center Workers Act” that aims to protect the interests and welfare of workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
Santiago said her bill promotes low attrition rates and attracts skilled workers to strengthen the local BPO industry, which is expected to generate up to $16 billion and provide 720,000 jobs this year.
“Once touted as a sunshine industry, the country’s BPO industry has the distinction of both contributing to economic growth and sustaining it through the services it offers. It makes perfect sense that Congress should protect this industry,” Santiago said in a statement issued on Saturday.
According to her, BPO revenues rose steadily since 2009. Last year, BPO companies were said to have raked in $13.5 billion in revenues —22 percent higher than 2011.
The Magna Carta enforces the rights of call center employees to, among others, organize and join labor organizations, a safe and healthy working environment and the right to stay in their employer’s premises until daybreak for night shift employees to ensure their safety.
As basis for her bill, Santiago cited the International Labor Organization’s studies that showed the perils of working in call centers, particularly for those on night shift.
The study found that 42.6 percent of BPO employees in the Philippines work the night shift. About 47.7 percent of those surveyed for the study suffered from insomnia, while 54 percent suffered from fatigue. They were also found to have other health problems such as eye strain, neck, shoulder and back pains and voice problems.
“The Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health should pay special attention to BPO employees who are vulnerable to health and safety hazards because of its peculiar nature and work schedule. Prolonged computer use and night shift schedules are legitimate health and safety concerns,” Santiago said.
The bill, originally filed in the 15th Congress, also taps the labor department to put up BPO Help Desks in national and regional offices. These help desks will advise prospective and active BPO employees on the terms and conditions of their contracts.