Call center must pay workers for mandatory prep time, court rules
A call center must pay its employees for the ten minutes it takes them to start up their systems and get logged in, and not only when they start making or receiving calls at 9 a.m. sharp. The court in The Hague made this ruling in a case brought by an employee against the call center Teleperformance in Zoetermeer.
According to the employee, he had to start making calls at 9 a.m. every morning, which required him to actually show up to work earlier to get his systems online, and to log in where needed. But Teleperformance did not pay him for that preparation time while actively working for the company.
The court ruled that Teleperformance must pay the man for his 10 minutes of preparation time, dating back from the start of his employment. That amounts to 2,900 euros.
The ruling can have major consequences for Teleperformance and other call centers in the Netherlands. Teleperformance, a French multinational, currently employs some 3,600 people in the Netherlands, according to NOS. So the ruling could cost them millions.
Elly Heemskerk of the trade union FNV is delighted with the verdict. She thinks it will cause a stir far beyond call centers. According to her, more and more employees are coming forward with time spent at work but not paid. “Think, for example, of people who have to change clothes or start up a system. Changing clothes is also part of working time,” she told the broadcaster.
The union would prefer to see collective compensation rather than having to fight every one of these cases in court. But it still called on members to come forward if they have similar stories.