BPOs want to continue work-from-home policy until year end

BPOs want to continue work-from-home policy until year end

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), which represents most of the business process outsourcing companies in Jamaica, has written to the Government requesting permission to continue the work-from-home policy until the end of this year.

On Monday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the work-from-home order, which has been in place for some two months, will not be renewed when it expires on May 31.

According to Holness, employees who are now working from home will be physically able to return to their work places on June 1.

But the GSAJ said its members have about 13,000 workers deployed to work from home across all parishes and wants this to remain in place so that worksites can continue to practice social distancing, but more importantly to keep workers safe and employed.

“It is expected that about 20 to 25 per cent of BPO workers may remain in work-from-home even after the pandemic ends,” said the GSAJ.

The association argued that COVID-19 guidelines were shared with stakeholders and subsequently implemented by its members from March 19, much earlier than many other local industries, immediately after the Government initiated its gradual social distancing and safety measures on March 18.

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

The GSAJ said that during the last six weeks 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 work from home in an effort to keep them safe,” said the GSAJ.

The association further noted that despite the measures implemented by players in the sector, approximately 7,500 workers were laid off during the Government-imposed temporary lockdown between April 22 and May 7.

“GSAJ members, that represent the majority of workers within the GSS sector, were proactive in making the necessary adjustments to facilitate work-from-home options for employees whose job functions facilitated this to happen.

“All this was done in a response to enforce physical distancing and to keep workers safe. The GSAJ also insisted [that] all members implemented daily temperature screening, hand washing, wearing of masks, no shared headsets … among many other measures,” said the association.

It noted that a partnership was quickly formed with the Government and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to conduct regular inspections.

“The MOHW guidelines were developed with the input and collaboration of the GSAJ and the finalised instrument, which was agreed on Friday, May 15, is now being used to assess all BPO sites within Jamaica. To date, most of the GSAJ members who are seeking to reopen their sites for non-essential services have passed their inspections.

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

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