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BPOs get serious on staff safety

December 20, 2005 10:52 IST

Expressing shock and dismay at the brutal murder of a call centre employee in Bangalore, BPO and software industry body Nasscom on Monday said it was working towards putting together best practices in human resource area for adoption by all its members, while another industry association has warned of short term impact on the industry.

The IT industry is a major employer of women. Nasscom has already initiated a process of putting together 'best practices' in the Human Resources area for adoption by all its members, Nasscom said in a statement.

"Criminal minds will try to find ways of circumventing the protection and procedures, and therefore, there is need to constantly devise better practices. Accordingly, any insights and learning that may arise from the investigation into this incident will also be incorporated in these guidelines," it said.

The Call Centre Association of India said the incident would have a short term impact on the industry.

"The attrition from the industry, however, would be negligible", Sam Chopra, chairman of CCAI said, adding that the association was drafting a code of conduct that would be finalised in a month.

The code of conduct would lay guidelines for call centre and  BPO industry for security practices like verification of third party workforce and posting of security guards on vehicles carrying women employees.

HP, the company where the deceased employee worked, said security of employees was its prime concern and the company would continue to cooperate fully with the authorities in the ongoing investigations and take appropriate action wherever required.

Amit Sircar, communications and customer operations, Global Delivery Application Services, said: "Some immediate security measures of the company has been already enhanced like conducting background checks of all drivers and supervisors by the transport agencies concerned, with assistance from the police.

Other measures are a special hotline number for all communications regarding cabs, which would be manned by HP employees 24X7.

This has been communicated to all women employees. They will now only board a replacement cab once they receive a call from this hotline number. Emergency numbers of three senior HP managers have been provided to all employees. The policy to ensure that no lady member is alone, and is always accompanied by a male HP employee or a security guard, is strictly reinforced.

Another Banglore based BPO, Progeon (Infosys's BPO arm), said the company had reviewed its employee transport arrangements.

Amitabh Chaudhry, chief operating officer, Progeon, said "Progeon's current safety measures for employee pick and drop are fairly robust. We have largely ensured that female employees are not the last to be dropped or first to be picked and we work with a limited number of transporters who have been with us for a long time," he said.

He further said any incidents of misbehaviour by drivers are dealt with seriously with instant removal.

The company is implementing additional measures like installation of GPS systems in vehicles to track the position of  vehicles at all points in time. All drivers will be required to go through a background check and police verification. Drivers will need to display a photo ID at all times, he said.

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