Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Some BPO firms will continue work-at-home arrangements

President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica, Gloria Henry.

President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica, Gloria Henry.

It is expected that about up to 25 per cent of workers in the local business process and outsourcing (BPO) industry will continue to work from home even after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ends.

Umbrella group for the local BPO sector, the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) said a request has been made to the government to continue with the work-at-home (WAH) facility until the end of 2020 so that sites can continue to practice social distancing as well as keep workers safe and employed.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday announced that the work-from-home orders that were issued in March are to expire at the end of the month.

The GSAJ, in a statement on Thursday, said it currently has about 13,000 workers deployed in work-at-home across all parishes in Jamaica.

Nonetheless, the GSAJ said its members have been utilising the GSAJ COVID-19 guidelines in the workplace, which was shared with stakeholders and subsequently implemented from March 19, immediately after the government of Jamaica initiated its gradual social distancing and safety measures on March 18.

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These guidelines cover the spectrum of health and safety measures to keep Global Services (GSS) and other working environments sanitized and employees safe, GSAJ said.

During the last six weeks, the GSAJ said it has reached out to several non-members to offer support and provide guidance as well as to share best practices in ensuring that they are implementing safe practices.

Several sites voluntarily closed their operations and have fully deployed all their workers to WAH in an effort to keep them safe.

Despite these measures, approximately 7,500 workers were laid off during the government-imposed temporary lockdown April 22 to May 7.

The association also partnered with Government and Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to conduct regular inspections.

The MOHW guidelines were developed with the input and collaboration of the GSAJ and the finalized instrument, which was agreed on Friday, May 15 is now being used to assess all BPO sites within Jamaica, the GSAJ said in a release.

To date, most of the GSAJ members who are seeking to reopen their sites for non-essential services have passed their inspections, according to the association.

“This includes all of the top 14 GSS sites within the country, likely the reason behind the overall low non-infection rate,” it said.

The GSAJ has also insisted all members implement daily temperature screening, hand washing, wearing of masks, no shared headsets, removal of attendance KPI, install hand washing/sanitizing stations among many other measures.

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