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Victorian Government Call Centre Code

Understand the Victorian Government's requirements and expectations for the call centre industry.

1. Introduction

The Australian call centre industry is a major employer providing services to businesses and customers in a diverse range of industries including finance, retail services, banking, insurance, government, education, health, hospitality, tourism and travel, telecommunications and utilities.

In 2002, the Victorian Government launched the Victorian Government Call Centre Code (Code) to assist in the development of a sustainable call centre industry. Since the Code was last updated in 2006, there have been significant changes in the industrial relations legislative framework. Therefore, the Code has been reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.

The Code is a Victorian Government policy that applies to both government operated call centres and private sector organisations contracted to the Victorian Government to provide call centre services.

The Victorian Government encourages all industry participants within the call centre industry to adopt and adhere to the Code as an industry benchmark.

Compliance with the Code is a condition of any contract in which a private sector organisation provides call centre services to the Victorian Government.

The Code has been developed to assist people to understand the Victoria Government’s requirements and expectations in relation to the Victorian call centre industry.

The Code aims to ensure that work is carried out lawfully, fairly, efficiently and safely for the benefits of all people within the call centre industry. The Code outlines workplace relations and occupational health and safety (OHS) legal requirements.

It provides guidance on industry best practice to improve productivity and encourage innovation.

The Code provides a framework in which government buyers can make qualitative assessments about whether a business has satisfied the requirements of the Code, based on information received.

1.1  Objectives of the Code

The objectives of the Code in relation to the Victorian call centre industry are:

  • to provide information to assist employers to comply with workplace relations and occupational health and safety laws
  • to promote the development and adoption of cooperative, consultative and productive approaches to workplace relations
  • to encourage best practice workplace practices that are fair
  • to employees, improve productivity and encourage innovation

The Victorian Government’s priority is to support and encourage growth and higher levels of local employment in the Victorian call centre industry. It will do this by promoting and maintaining a sustainable call centre industry that competes successfully based on:

  • the vision and direction of its managers
  • the skills and commitment of its employees
  • the partnership culture of its workplaces
  • the customer service orientation of its workforce

The Victorian Government is committed to using its purchasing power to generate jobs for Victorians, and boost economic activity by sourcing and procuring local products and local services, consistent with the Victorian Government Purchasing Board’s procurement policies.

2. Victorian Government Policy

The Victorian Government believes that every Victorian worker is entitled to a fair, safe and secure workplace and advocates a partnership approach to industrial and employee relations.The Victorian Government supports workplace arrangements that promote:

  • productivity and efficiency
  • cooperation
  • communication and consultation between employers and employees
  • training and skill development
  • fair and reasonable employment standards
  • a commitment to occupational health and safety
  • security of employment
  • rights of representation
  • equity in the workplace

The Victorian Government supports a stable, cooperative and fair system of industrial and workplace relations and believes that a single unitary national system provides the best framework for all Victorian employees, employers and unions.

All Victorian employers and employees including the public sector are covered by the national industrial relations system established by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The Victorian Government supports the role of the Fair Work Commission as the national industrial and workplace relations tribunal to carry out a range of functions including:

  • providing a safety net of minimum conditions, including minimum wages in awards
  • facilitating good faith bargaining and the making of enterprise agreements
  • granting remedies for unfair dismissal
  • regulating the taking of industrial action
  • resolving a range of collective and individual workplace disputes through conciliation, mediation and in some cases arbitration
  • functions in connection with workplace determinations, equal remuneration, transfer of business, general workplace protections, right of entry and stand down

3. Application of the Code

3.1 Victorian public sector bodies and public entities

The Code applies to:

  • public service bodies including departments, administrative offices and the Victoria Public Service Commission
  • public entities including statutory authorities and state-owned corporations established by legislation to carry out a public purpose, who either operate a call centre or procure call centre services from a private sector organisation

3.2 Public sector procurement

The Code also applies to private sector organisations contracted by the Victorian Government to provide or perform call centre services. The Code must be complied with when private sector organisations supply call centre services to the Victorian Government.

‘Businesses that tender for call centre contracts from Victorian Government entities – including all ‘in budget’ agencies, statutory authorities and Government owned corporations – will be required to comply with and demonstrate their commitment to the Code at the pre-qualification stage of the tendering process.’ 1

3.3 Private sector call centres

The Victorian Government encourages all industry participants within the call centre industry to adopt and adhere to the Code as a benchmark. Private sector call centre that provide services to the Victorian Government must comply with the Code, as described in 3.2.

3.4 State and Commonwealth legislation

The application of the Code is subject to the provisions of relevant Commonwealth and State legislation and industrial instruments including:

  • Commonwealth workplace relations legislation
  • enterprise agreements and modern awards applicable to Victorian public sector and call centre employment
  • Victorian long service leave legislation
  • Victorian and Commonwealth occupational health and safety legislation
  • Victorian and Commonwealth workers compensation legislation
  • Victorian and Commonwealth equal opportunity, anti-discrimination and charter of human rights and responsibilities 2 legislation
  • legislation relating to the operation of superannuation

Refer to Appendix 1 for a list of the key legislation and industrial instruments that operate alongside the Code.

4. Implementation

The Victorian Government is committed to the implementation of the Code.

4.1 Government operated call centres

To implement the Code within government operated call centres, Victorian public sector departments/agencies are responsible for establishing:

  • internal procedures to implement the Code
  • mechanisms to ensure responsiveness to Code issues
  • consultative mechanisms as required by the Code
  • a point of contact for Code matters

4.2 Public sector procurement of call centre services

To ensure that businesses supplying call centre services to the Victorian Government are complying with the Code, standard conditions for invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) and model contract clauses have been developed. This will assist government buyers in making qualitative assessments about whether a business has satisfied the requirements of the Code.

Conditions of tender/quotation

To ensure suppliers understand the Victorian Government’s expectations and requirements in relation to the Victorian call centre industry, the Code must be included with all relevant invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) documentation.

Government buyers must include, the supplier’s compliance with the Code when assessing invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) responses for the procurement of call centre services.

Suppliers are required to complete the Checklist for Compliance with the Code (Checklist) and sign the Declaration of Compliance (Declaration) when submitting an invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) response for call centre services. Government buyers will use this information to evaluate the supplier’s level of compliance with the Code.

The Checklist and Declaration require:

  • suppliers to detail their record of compliance with workplace relations and OHS legislation in the preceding 24 month period to assist government buyers to establish confidence in the workplace relations and OHS practices of suppliers
  • suppliers to confirm they have policies and procedures in place to meet the best practice guidance within the Code

The Checklist and Declaration are at Appendix 2.

The government buyer may request further documentary evidence about the information provided by the supplier. Where it is deemed that the supplier does not meet the requirements of the Code they will not proceed to contract.

Contract

A model contract clause has been developed to ensure that suppliers comply with the Code during the life of the contract.The model contract clause provides the State with the right, during the course of contract, to request a status report on compliance. The model contract clause is at Appendix 3.

Government buyers must include the model contract clause in procurement contracts with suppliers providing call centre services; this will create a binding contractual obligation on the supplier to comply with the Code.

4.3 Compliance with Commonwealth and State laws

Government operated call centres and organisations that are contracted to provide call centre services are required to comply with all applicable Commonwealth and State legislation throughout the life of the contract.

Where there is a suspected breach of any law (including workplace and occupational health and safety laws), the matter must be referred to the relevant authorities responsible for administering the legislation.

Refer to the Compliance Section of this Code for further information.

5. Employee Minimum Entitlements

The Code requires compliance with all applicable laws.

The Code requires that employers provide employees with at least their minimum entitlements for wages and conditions of employment as specified in the relevant modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract.

The National Employment Standards (NES) and the modern awards make up the minimum entitlements for employees in the national workplace relations system. The terms of industrial instruments cannot provide for wages and conditions that are less than the national minimum wage or the NES. However, they may provide entitlements that are more favourable for employees.

The NES relates to the following matters:

  • maximum weekly hours
  • requests for flexible working arrangements
  • parental leave and related entitlements
  • annual leave
  • personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
  • community service leave
  • long service leave
  • public holidays
  • notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • the Fair Work Information Statement

Although the NES applies to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, only certain entitlements apply to casual employees, which are:

  • two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days compassionate leave per occasion
  • maximum weekly hours
  • community service leave (except paid jury service)
  • to reasonably seek a day off on a public holiday
  • provision of the Fair Work Information Statement

Casual employees who have been employed for at least 12 months by an employer on a regular and systematic basis and with an expectation of ongoing employment are entitled to make requests for flexible working arrangements and parental leave.

The Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic) also applies to casual employees.

5.1 Contract Call Centres Awards 2010

As stated, the Code requires compliance with all applicable laws.

If an employee is not covered by an enterprise agreement, their minimum wages and conditions are likely to be set by a modern award.

The Contract Call Centres Award 2010 applies nationally to the contract call centre industry. It sets out minimum entitlements for wages and conditions of employment including the following matters:

  • types of employment including full-time, part-time and casual
  • termination of employment
  • redundancy
  • minimum wages including higher duties, penalty rates, overtime and casual rates
  • allowances
  • annual leave and annual leave loading
  • other types of leave including personal/carers leave, compassionate leave and community service leave
  • public holidays
  • hours of work
  • superannuation

The Contract Call Centres Award 2010 also sets out a classification structure including the definition of each role, the indicative tasks and qualifications.

For further information about the NES minimum standards and moderns awards or to obtain a copy of the Contract Call Centres Award 2010, contact the:

5.2 Public sector awards

The Contract Call Centres Award 2010 applies to private sector organisations contracted to the Victorian Government to provide call centre services.

For call centres operated and managed directly by a Victorian Government Department or Agency, if an employee is not covered by an enterprise agreement, their minimum wages and conditions are likely to be set by the following public sector modern awards:

  • State Government Agencies Award 2010 – for national system employers
  • Victorian State Government Agencies Award 2015 –for state reference employers

To obtain a copy of the State Government Agencies Awards 2010 or the Victorian State Government Agencies Award 2015, contact the:

5.3 Dispute settlement and industrial instruments

The Victorian Government promotes the resolution of workplace disputes at the workplace level. However, not all disputes can be resolved without some external assistance.

The Code requires compliance with disputes resolution procedures set out in relevant industrial instruments. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) requires that all modern awards and enterprise agreements include a dispute resolution clause.

Dispute resolution clauses in modern awards generally provide for the following process:

  • employee/s meet with their direct supervisor to discuss the grievance
  • failing resolution, the matter is discussed further with more senior management
  • failing resolution of the matter, the employer refers the dispute to a more senior level of management or more senior national officer within the organisation
  • failing resolution, the matter may be referred to private mediation provided it does not remove the right to refer the matter to the Fair Work Commission
  • where the dispute remains unresolved, the parties may jointly or individually refer the matter to the Fair Work Commission
  • the employer or employee may appoint another person, organisation or association, including their union, to represent them during this process

Enterprise agreements must contain a term that sets out a procedure that requires or allows either the Fair Work Commission or another independent person to settle disputes. The term must allow for the representation of employees covered by the agreement. A model dispute resolution term for enterprise agreements is set out in the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth).

Dispute resolution clauses should require that work is to continue normally during the dispute resolution process subject to any reasonable concerns about health and safety. Generally, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) does not authorise employees to stop performing work while a dispute is being resolved.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has developed a best practice guide titled Effective Dispute Resolution, which can be accessed by contacting the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or through their website at: www.fairwork.gov.au

5.4 Employer/employee representation

The Victorian Government promotes a cooperative approach to workplace relations valuing collective bargaining and the rights of employees to have their interests supported through effective union representation.

In terms of representation rights, the Code requires that:

  • organisations and employees are free to join an association or organisation
  • employees are entitled to negotiate collectively
  • organisations should not hinder the activities of unions
  • unions have access to the workplace by providing requisite and reasonable notice and without hindering normal operations

Under the Code, an authorised union representative is to be accorded:

  • recognition that representatives act on behalf of members
  • access to employees for conducting union business (provided there is no undue interference with work)
  • reasonable access to information about the workplace/ business
  • reasonable paid time during normal working hours to conduct union business
  • reasonable paid leave to attend accredited union education
  • reasonable access to facilities for conducting union business (phone, facsimile, post, photocopying, internet e-mail)

Commonwealth and State legislation provide unions with rights to lawfully enter workplaces. Refer to Appendix 1 for a list of applicable legislation.

5.5 Collective bargaining

The Victorian Government supports the right of employees to collectively bargain with their employer in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The Victorian Government does not support employers deliberately avoiding renewing collective agreements as a means of avoiding the current safety net and Better Off Overall Test contained in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

6. Occupational Health and Safety

The Victorian Government believes that all employers and workers have a fundamental right to a safe and secure working environment.

In Victoria, occupational health and safety is governed by a system of laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.

Where work and services are performed in Victoria the Code requires that organisations comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic). Where work is performed in another Australian jurisdiction, organisations are required to comply with applicable work health and safety legislation.

Organisations should implement practices that improve occupational health and safety, through:

  • establishing an occupational health and safety committee
  • providing regular rest breaks away from the telephone for a minimum of five minutes every hour
  • providing eye, ear and voice tests at employer expense
  • providing ergonomically designed furniture & headsets
  • minimising background noise (eg radio, photocopiers) so that voice levels do not need to be raised
  • testing background noise regularly
  • providing volume controls on headsets so voices do not need to be raised
  • ensuring that calls are rotated to prevent calls being received at a single station
  • providing easy access to drinking water
  • allowing employees to prerecord their introduction and other frequently requested information, such as opening hours
  • providing telephone systems that include pauses between calls
  • developing reasonable call targets so voice overuse is not encouraged
  • using stress relief measures 3

7. Anti-Discrimination

In relation to equity in the workplace, there are both Commonwealth and State laws that protect employees from discrimination. The Code requires compliance with all applicable anti-discrimination laws.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (EO Act) makes discrimination including bullying and sexual harassment unlawful in many areas of public life, including employment. The EO Act prohibits both direct discrimination (when a person treats, or proposes to treat someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic), and indirect discrimination (when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that disadvantages a person or group because of a personal characteristic).

The EO Act also makes it unlawful to victimise a person due to that person having asserted their rights under equal opportunity law. It is also against the law to vilify a person because of their race or religion.

The EO Act sets out 18 personal characteristics that make discrimination in employment unlawful. They are: age; breastfeeding; employment activity; gender identity; disability; industrial activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parental status or status as a carer; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sex; sexual orientation; an expunged homosexual conviction and personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics.

Employees are protected from discrimination at all stages of employment, including:

  • recruitment, including how positions are advertised and how interviews are conducted
  • being offered unfair terms and conditions of employment
  • being denied training opportunities, promotion, transfers, performance pay or other employment-related benefits
  • being unfairly dismissed, retrenched or demoted

8. Management and Organisation of Work

The management and organisation of work and systems within the workplace are central to good performance outcomes.

Workforce management

To ensure effective workforce management organisations should:

  • create and maintain a safe working environment;
  • integrate training and skill development into project management;
  • pursue consultative forms of management;
  • adopt ‘best practice’ performance assessment and monitoring;
  • integrate these into the procedures, practices and performance standards of the organisation.

Work organisation

To ensure effective work organisation, employees need to be supported so they can achieve high standards of customer service. To achieve this, organisations should:

  • provide employees with enough flexibility so that they can adequately follow up customer service issues
  • ensure employees are able to negotiate appropriate flexibility guidelines with management, which follow the principles of quality customer service, job satisfaction and efficiency
  • provide employees with adequate technological resources and information to resolve customer concerns

8.1 Security of employment and entitlements

The Victorian Government is committed to improving job security for all employees, whether in the public or private sector, so they can fully participate in the community, the economy and plan for their future. The Victorian Government believes that Victorian workers should have access to secure and permanent employment. The Victorian Government encourages ongoing, sustainable employment in place of individual or short-term contracts or temporary and casual employment.

Accordingly, the Code requires that:

  • agency or labour hire employees should not be used to replace ongoing positions, unless their employment is for the purposes of:
    • completing a specified task or project
    • filling in for an employee taking leave
    • temporarily providing specialist skills not internally available for a specified period
    • filling short term vacancies resulting from resignation of an ongoing employee
    • supplementing the workforce during peak workloads

The Code requires that businesses should not out-source a call centre business function to a contract call centre as a strategy to undercut the wages and conditions of ongoing employees. Where a call centre business function is out-sourced, the industrial instrument relevant to employees of the out-sourced call centre will be applicable to the employees of the contract call centre, unless otherwise agreed by the parties to the industrial agreement.

8.2 Subcontracting by suppliers

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring, where possible, services are sourced locally. The Government also recognises its responsibility to lead by example, which means the Government should not be associated with the purchase of services produced from the labour of exploited workers.

The Code requires that where businesses who supply call centre services to the Victorian Government enter into a contract, arrangement or agreement with another supplier to provide call centre services, the relevant contractual documentation, arrangements or agreements must require compliance with the Code.

8.3 Training and skill development

The Victorian Government recognises that Victoria cannot have a prosperous future without an educated, highly skilled workforce that is well placed to seize new opportunities in a changing economy.

The call centre industry is a technology driven sector, and is reliant on constant upgrading of the workforce skills base. For employers, training and new skills provide for greater functional flexibilities and higher employee productivity. Conversely, employees gain access to a wider range of jobs and duties that are more engaging.

Integrating training and skill development into workplace management will ensure that organisations can quickly adapt to changing knowledge and skill requirements within the industry.

Training and skills development for call centre employees should be based on:

  • providing adequate training time for all employees
  • providing training to ensure employees are able to adapt to changing technology and skill requirements
  • aiming training at developing skills for meaningful jobs and quality customer service
  • using training to facilitate career advancement in the call centre industry
  • where practicable, providing training that is nationally recognised and portable across the industry
  • providing training that caters to different learning styles
  • linking training packages to key industry competency standards, assessment and qualifications
  • providing e-commerce training if the call centre intends to expand e-commerce activities

8.4 Communication and consultation

Communication and consultation are central to the Victorian Government’s partnership approach to industrial and employee relations. The rationale underlying the value of communication and consultation is an acknowledgment that employees’ experience and ideas add value to the quality of service the call centre can deliver.

All enterprise agreement and modern awards must include a process for consultation that requires employers to consult with employees about major workplace changes that are likely to have a significant effect on their employment.

Enterprise agreements and modern awards also require employers to consult with employees about changes to their regular roster or ordinary hours of work, and allow for representation of those employees for the purposes of that consultation.

Consultation obligations also arise under occupational health and safety legislation.

In addition to these legal obligations, organisations should put in place communication and consultation processes that allow:

  • team members to be given the opportunity to meet as a team on a regular basis
  • employees to be given adequate time to familiarise themselves with organisational policies
  • employees to have access to noticeboards, e-mail or other communication facilities to facilitate communication between employees and/or their union representative regarding work matters
  • management to consult with employees prior to implementing major changes to organisational policy and product development, while retaining the right to make final decisions

8.5 Performance assessment

As with many industries, the way in which employee performance is formally assessed within the call centre industry represents a difficult area for many organisations.

The following criteria seeks to incorporate the objectives of the Code into organisational assessment systems to ensure that performance assessment criteria is focussed on developing employees skills, while balancing business needs.

Organisations should seek to utilise:

  • performance assessment criteria which is developed in consultation with employees and based on employee skill development
  • performance assessment criteria which is sufficiently flexible to accommodate customer service requirements, efficiency or consistency requirements
  • a performance review process which embodies fair procedures and review options

With respect to call monitoring, the Code requires that organisations:

  • use call monitoring as a coaching and developmental tool by:
    • developing and operating the monitoring process in cooperation and collaboration with employees
    • providing employees with reasonable notice of calls being monitored (including the period of monitoring)
    • including a feedback mechanism as part of the process
  • consult with employees, their representative or union before introducing call monitoring.

In terms of targets, they should be linked to business needs and they should balance quality and productivity. The Code requires that:

  • organisations provide employees with an opportunity to participate in setting achievable targets
  • targets are linked to the quality of customer service and not solely on volume of calls and call completion time
  • organisations consulting with employees, and if applicable, their representative or union, before changes are made to targets

9. Compliance – Monitoring and Sanctions

Individual workplaces are responsible for monitoring and managing compliance with the Code.

Issues involving non-compliance with the Code provisions may be raised by any party and will be managed within the department/agencies existing workplace dispute/grievance resolution processes or complaints management systems.

9.1 Government operated call centres

Issues of non-compliance with the Code by Government department or agency operated and managed call centres, are to be managed within the existing workplace dispute/grievance resolution processes.

Public sector employers have obligations under the Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic) (PA Act) that apply to their actions regarding the grievance process.

The PA Act sets out employment principles that define how public sector employees can expect to be treated in the Victorian public sector. Under the employment principles, an employee can lodge a grievance with their employer and they are entitled to a reasonable avenue of redress, and to be treated fairly and reasonably with regard to a wide range of employment related workplace issues.

Employers must comply with the minimum requirements under the Reasonable Avenue of Redress public sector standard, and they should also consider the Victorian Public Service Commission’s guidance material regarding grievance, particularly the Reasonable Avenue of Redress Guidelines. 4

Where a department/agency has undertaken a comprehensive process to resolve a dispute relating to the Code, and it remains unresolved, they may seek the assistance of Industrial Relations Victoria. The request for assistance must be in writing and include the following:

  • details of the circumstances and extent of the alleged breach or breaches
  • details of remedial action taken to rectify the breach or breaches
  • evidence demonstrating the alleged breach or breaches
  • all supporting documentation

The process to assess compliance will involve Industrial Relations Victoria conducting:

  • a process of informal review
  • making recommendations for remedial action
  • forwarding recommendations to the relevant Minister for consideration

Departments/agencies are required to report all proven breaches of the Code to the responsible Minister and to Industrial Relations Victoria.

Consequences for breaching the Code by Departments/Agencies

In respect of proven breaches of the Code, the nature and severity of remedial actions will be in proportion to the assessed nature and severity of the breach. Remedial actions may include:

  • on advice from the department/agency the responsible Minister will consider appropriate actions to ensure future compliance with the Code
  • on advice from Industrial Relations Victoria the responsible department/agency will consider appropriate actions to ensure future compliance with the Code
  • referral of matters directly to the relevant authorities responsible for administering the legislation in relation to alleged breaches of Commonwealth or State legislation

9.2 Public sector procurement of call centre services

Issues of non-compliance with the Code in relation to the procurement of call centre services may involve complaints relating to the procurement process or a breach of contract.

Contractual requirements

Breaches of the Code will need to be managed in accordance with the provisions of the contract.

A contract manager must be notified of a breach, or suspected breach, of the Code, as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the breach or the suspected breach.

Suspected breaches can also be referred to Industrial Relations Victoria for follow up with the relevant department/agency’s contract manager.

The notification must be in writing to the contract manager and must include:

  • details of the circumstances and extent of the alleged breach or breaches
  • details of remedial action taken to rectify the breach or breaches
  • evidence demonstrating the alleged breach or breaches
  • all supporting documentation

The contract manager will conduct an investigation into the alleged breach and will:

  • write to the supplier setting out the alleged breach and seeking a response
  • give the supplier the opportunity to make submission in respect of the alleged breach

All proven breaches of the Code are to be reported to the responsible Minister and to Industrial Relations Victoria.

Consequences for breaching the Code

The nature and severity of remedial action that will be imposed on a supplier for a breach of contract will be in proportion to the assessed nature and severity of the breach. Failure to comply with the contract terms and conditions could result in the termination of the supplier’s contract.

In respect of proven breaches by a supplier, sanctions may include but are not limited to:

  • a reduction in tendering/quotation opportunities at the departmental/agency level or government wide level, under certain circumstances
  • referring alleged breaches of Commonwealth or State legislation to the relevant authorities responsible for administering the legislation

Procurement process

Complaints relating to the process and probity applied by an organisation when carrying out a procurement activity are to be resolved in accordance with the organisations existing complaints management system.

The Victorian Government Purchasing Board (VGPB) sets the policies that govern procurement of non-construction goods and services across all Victorian Government departments and some public bodies.

Organisations that are covered by the scope of the VGPBs polices are required to develop a complaints management system that sets out the process and procedures that will be followed by an organisation to address complaints.

If the complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties through the complaints management process, the complainant may refer the matter to the VGPB for review.

Where organisations are not covered by the scope of the VGPB polices, matters should be resolved within those organisations’ existing dispute resolution processes. Where such processes do not exist, organisations are encouraged to implement a complaints management system in accordance with the VGPB procurement policies and processes.

10. Industrial Relations Victoria

Industrial Relations Victoria can provide information and assistance to departments/agencies about the application of the Code.

Contact Industrial Relations Victoria via email irv.info@ecodev.vic.gov.au or visit www.economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/callcentrecode

Appendix 1: Legislation and Industrial Instruments

Listed below are the key legislation and industrial instruments that operate alongside the Code.

Commonwealth workplace relations legislation and industrial instruments

  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth)
  • Contract Call Centres Award 2010
  • State Government Agencies Award 2010
  • Victorian State Government Agencies Award 2015

Victorian occupational health and safety legislation

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic)

Victorian workers’ compensation legislation

  • Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic)
  • Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Regulations 2014 (Vic)

Victorian equal opportunity and human rights legislation

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic)
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)

Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation

  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)

Commonwealth superannuation legislation

  • Superannuation Guarantee (Administration Act) 1992 (Cth)

Victorian Long Service Leave

  • Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic)

Appendix 2: Public Sector Procurement Templates

The Checklist and declaration are to be attached to the invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) documentation and must be completed and returned with any invitation to supply (tender/request for quotation) response.

Checklist for compliance with the Victorian Government Call Centre Code

A. General Compliance Yes No
1. Does your organisation have policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the following categories of legislation?
  • Commonwealth workplace relations legislation (including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth))
☐  ☐ 
  • Long service leave (including the Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic)
☐  ☐ 
  • Occupational health and safety (including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic))
☐  ☐ 
  • Workers compensation (including the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic)
☐  ☐ 
  • Equal opportunity (including the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic))
☐  ☐ 
  • Anti-discrimination (including the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth), Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth))
☐  ☐ 
  • Charter of human rights and responsibilities (including the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth))
☐  ☐ 
  • Superannuation (including the Superannuation Guarantee Administration Act 1992 (Cth))
☐  ☐ 
B. Management of Employee Entitlements Yes No
1. Does your organisation only employ call centre employees in accordance with an enterprise agreement approved by the Fair Work Commission or modern award (including the Contract Call Centres Award 2010)? ☐  ☐ 
2. Does your organisation have policies and procedures that allow employees to access information about the relevant enterprise agreement or modern award? ☐  ☐ 
3. In the past 24-month period, has your organisation complied with its obligations under Commonwealth workplace relations legislation? In particular, over the last 24 months, has your organisation been subject to:
  • any findings against it by a court or tribunal regarding breach of an industrial instrument, including a breach of a non-confidential consent order?
☐  ☐ 
  • any current proceedings in respect of a breach of an industrial instrument?
☐  ☐ 
C. Acknowledgement of Employee Representation Rights Yes No
1. Does your organisation have policies and procedures that provide employees with representation rights, such as:
  • employees are free to join an association or organisation
  • employees are entitled to negotiate collectively
  • employee organisations, such as unions, have the right to access the workplace provided they provide reasonable notice and do not hinder the organisation’s normal operations
  • employees who are union representatives are entitled to have access to employees for conducting union business, information about the organisation, reasonable paid time during normal working hours to conduct union business, reasonable paid leave to attend accredited union education and reasonable access to facilities to conduct union business
☐  ☐ 
D. Management of Occupational Health and Safety Responsibilities Yes No
1. In the past 24 month period, has your organisation complied with its obligations under occupational health and safety legislation? ☐  ☐ 
2. In particular, over the last 24 months has your organisation been subject to:
  • any investigation into a workplace incident?
☐  ☐ 
  • any fine or conviction under occupational health and safety legislation?
☐  ☐ 
3. Does your organisation have policies and procedures to address the specific risks associated with call centre work, such as:
  • an established occupational health and safety committee that regularly assesses the organisation’s activities, identifies key risks and implements risk controls
  • providing regular rest breaks away from the telephone for a minimum of five minutes every hour
  • providing eye, ear and voice tests at employer expense
  • providing ergonomically designed furniture and headsets
  • providing voice controls on headsets, so voices do not need to be raised
  • conducting regular background testing to minimise background noise
  • ensuring that calls are rotated to prevent calls being received at a single station
  • allowing employees to prerecord their introduction and other frequently requested information, such as opening hours
  • providing telephone systems that include pauses between calls
  • imposing reasonable call targets so voice overuse is not encouraged
☐  ☐ 
E. Management of subcontracting by suppliers Yes No
1. Does your organisation have in place, policies and procedures to ensure that relevant contractual documentation, arrangement or agreements require subcontractors to comply with the Code, where businesses out-source call centre services to another supplier? ☐  ☐ 
F. Provision of Training and Skill Development Yes No
1. Does your organisation have policies and procedures that provide employees with training and equipment to undertake their work, including training:
  • that can cater to different learning styles
  • that is linked to industry competency standards, assessments and qualifications
  • that includes regular retraining to ensure employees can adapt to changing technology and skill requirements
  • that is relevant to the specific requirements of a call centre role and to facilitate career advancement in the call centre industry
  • that outlines the occupational health and safety policies and systems within the organisation, including potential hazards and risk associated with the role, specific control measures to be used and procedures for reporting hazards and incidents
☐  ☐ 
G. Provision of Secure Employment and Entitlements Yes No
1. Does your organisation have policies and procedures to ensure employees have access to secure and permanent employment, including by only engaging agency or labour hire employees for the purposes of:
  • completing a specified task or project
  • filling in for an employee taking leave
  • temporarily providing specialist skills not internally available for a specified period
  • filling short term vacancies resulting from resignation of an ongoing employee
  • supplementing the workforce during peak workloads
☐  ☐ 
H. Reasonable Communication and Consultation Yes No
1. Does your organisation have communication and consultation processes to ensure:
  • team members are given the opportunity to meet as a team on a regular basis
  • employees are given adequate time to familiarise themselves with organisational policies
  • employees have access to noticeboards, email or other communication facilities to facilitate communication between employees and their union representatives regarding work matters
  • management consults with employees prior to implementing major changes to organisational policy and produce development, while retaining the right to make final decisions
☐  ☐ 
I. Reasonable Performance Management Practices Yes No
1. Does your organisation have policies and procedures with respect to call monitoring that:
  • require call monitoring to be used as a coaching and development tool by developing the process in collaboration with employees
  • provide employees with reasonable notice of calls being monitored (including the period of monitoring)
  • include a feedback mechanism as part of the process
  • require consultation with employees, their representatives or union before introducing call monitoring
☐  ☐ 
2. Does your organisation have policies and procedures with respect to performance targets that:
  • provides employees with an opportunity to participate in setting achievable targets
  • ensures performance targets are linked to the quality of customer service and not solely on volume of calls and call completion times
  • are calculated by reference to the capacity of employees to meet performance targets within their scheduled working hours without causing exertion
  • requires consultation with employees, and if applicable, their representative or union, before changes are made to performance targets
☐  ☐ 

Statement of Non-Compliance

If you have answered no to any of the above questions, please provide a detailed explanation of the extent of non-compliance for each question below:

Please download and sign the Declaration of Compliance:

Appendix 3: Model Contract Clause

Victorian Government Call Centre Code

1. The Supplier must comply, and as far as practicable must ensure its subcontractors comply, with all relevant requirements of the Victorian Government Call Centre Code, including by:

  • (a) complying with all applicable workplace relations, occupational health and safety, charter of human rights and responsibilities and workers’ compensation laws
  • (b) informing the Purchaser of any adverse court or tribunal decision for a breach of workplace relations laws, occupational health and safety laws, or workers’ compensation laws made against it during the term of this Agreement and any remedial action it has taken, or proposes to take, as a result of the decision
  • (c) providing the Purchaser with any information it reasonably requires to confirm the Supplier (and any subcontractor) is complying with its obligations under the Victorian Government Call Centre Code and this clause (including under paragraphs a, b and c above)
  • (d) participating in all compliance activities associated with its obligations under the Victorian Government Call Centre Code. Compliance activities may include responding to requests for information and/or audits undertaken by the Supplier, Industrial Relations Victoria or their duly authorised representatives

2. Compliance with the Victorian Government Call Centre Code will not relieve the Supplier from its responsibility to comply with its other obligations under this Agreement.

3. The Supplier consents to the Purchaser reporting on the Supplier’s compliance with its obligations under the Victorian Government Call Centre Code and this clause (including under paragraphs 1a, b and c above) to Industrial Relations Victoria.

4. If the Supplier (or one of its subcontractors) does not comply with its obligations under the Victorian Government Call Centre Code or this clause, without prejudice to any rights that would otherwise accrue to the Purchaser, the Purchaser and Industrial Relations Victoria will be entitled to publish details of the Supplier’s and/or subcontractor’s failure to comply (including the Supplier’s and/ subcontractor’s name) and to otherwise provide those details to other Victorian Government agencies.

5. As far as practicable, the Supplier must ensure that all subcontracts impose obligations on subcontractors equivalent to the obligations under these clauses [1] to [4].

Footnotes

1. Victorian Labor’s Plan to secure local jobs for local workers April 2013.

2. The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities requires public authorities, such as Victorian state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of government, to act consistently with the human rights in the Charter.

3. Refer to WorkSafe Victoria, Call centre preventing vocal fatigue, for further information on managing vocal fatigue. Refer to Worksafe Victoria, Streetwise preventing work-related stress: A guide for employers in the public sector, for further information about managing stress in the workplace.

4. Refer to the Victorian Public Service Commission, Reasonable Avenue of Redress standard and Reasonable Avenue of Redress Guidelines for further information about grievance and complaints processes.

Reviewed 13 October 2019

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