Like many companies, Telstra’s contact centre workforce has been significantly impacted by recent restrictions imposed by the Philippines Government in response to COVID-19. We have been working hard for some time now to minimise the impact on our employees, our partners’ employees and our customers.

We would like to provide the following information on our workforce in the Philippines by way of background to an ABC 7.30 story airing tonight.

Teleperformance conducts work for Telstra in the Philippines across a range of customer support activities including customer service inquiries, faults and live chat. We take our responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for Telstra employees extremely seriously and we expect our partners to do the same.

Following the implementation of Government containment measures in the Philippines last month, which included significant travel restrictions, Teleperformance arranged short term accommodation options for some of its workers onsite for people who were willing and able to continue working in those arrangements. As a result of this, in Teleperformance’s Mall of Asia office in Manila for example, the Telstra floor which normally has capacity for around 200 people to work, had around 30 people accommodated and working on site. Telstra is just one of many Teleperformance clients operating from the Mall of Asia office.

We have been in contact daily with Teleperformance as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded to ensure it has been meeting all health and safety requirements for its workers, as consistent with our Supplier Code of Conduct. This has included a minimum twice a day temperature check, onsite medical staff, strict social distancing requirements, disinfection and cleaning of onsite shower and bathroom facilities every two hours, disinfection and cleaning of the full site every three hours, and all meals provided.

Whilst Teleperformance does not operate any call centre work for Telstra out of Cebu (which was the subject of a recent Financial Times article), following the publication of the article we formally requested additional information and assurance from Teleperformance about their precautions during COVID-19.

Three weeks ago, we instructed Teleperformance that whilst we considered onsite accommodation suitable for the short-term, with the extension of the government’s quarantine arrangements, we instructed them to find suitable longer-stay arrangements (see our correspondence below). That has been completed, and there are no longer any partner employees operating on Telstra accounts being housed in onsite accommodation in the Philippines. Workers are now either back in their homes and commuting to work via shuttle bus or private transport, or they are being housed in hotel accommodation near offices. Under COVID-19, we operate our sites at an average of around 20% capacity so we remain well within the government guidelines for social distancing.

As the situation continues to evolve, we remain vigilant in ensuring that all necessary health and safety measures are in place for people who work on Telstra accounts.