Capita: Call centre workers, can you fall on your swords? Please?

Voluntary redundo for staff managing O2 clients

The kind souls at Capita are placing hundreds of workers at risk of redundancy at call centres across the UK that service O2 clients, according to documents seen by The Channel.

The work was outsourced to Capita back in 2013, the contract is valued at £1.2bn over ten years and is the biggest of its kind.

The Communications Workers Union told oppressed members working at Capita that a Discretionary Voluntary Redundancy (DVR) exercise is opening up.

The move is “part of their Transformation Programme which is being carried out in back and front office roles in trading and service in Bury and Glasgow as well as a 'small number' of supporting roles impacted in Preston Brook & Leeds”.

The reason, according to Capita, is that customers are using “alternative channels” to access services, and as such it is “experiencing and forecasting a significant decrease in call volumes”.

The introduction of interactive voice response, “ongoing process” improvements and efficiency initiatives reinforced the need to “reduce headcount”, the CWU document stated.

Staff entered into a 90-day consultation yesterday, but at this stage there are “no plans for site closures”, as was predicted in 2013.

“However, there are over 700 employees that will be in scope who will be eligible to apply for DVR with approximately 350 leaving the company from the end of October and further employees leaving on staggered leave dates after this time up until end [of] 2015 [and] into early quarter 2016,” the CWU told its members.

The DVR window opens today until the end of next month, and the union is trying to ascertain how the business plans to cope with a reduced headcount.

In a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers note Capita sent to staff, the company confirms DVR is open to all front line roles in Trading and Service in Bury and Glasgow and supporting roles at all sites.

Redundancy compensation includes three weeks pay per a year of service (a minimum of eight weeks up to 52 weeks). Part timers can expect a one-off payment of £2,000.

Staff that TUPE’d from Telefonica/ O2 and remain on the former contract will get a package that recognises partial years of service. The TUPE scheme was in place for two years, the amount of time a role was guaranteed, the company stated.

If the programme is over-subscribed, all applications will be “reviewed” against a set criteria that includes “skill set, performance and cost.”

No mention was made if compulsory redundancies will be pushed through should enough workers not apply for voluntary redundancy, presumably because it anticipates a stampede.

An insider questioned the move, claiming Capita is currently hiring at call centres in South Africa and India for "the very jobs they want to make redundant".

A Capita spokesman sent us a statement, saying more customers are using digital channels "rather than traditional customer service telephone channels" to log issues.

"We are fully committed to doing everything we can to support our people as we transform the service and strive to be even better for O2 mobile customers.

“We are talking to employees in front and back office roles to offer redundancies through voluntary means. We will work closely with employees who decide to leave to accommodate their chosen leaving date and we will be offering a series of recruitment events, careers clinics and CV writing and interview classes.”

The Channel asked about compulsory redundancies but received no reply. ®

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