Labor Case: Piad, Rene Vs. 24/7
On September 11, 2012, the complainant instituted the instant case of illegal dismissal, illegal suspension, non-payment of rest day premium, and 13th month pay and recovery of moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.
Respondent 24/7 is a call center. On March 15, 2012, it hired the complainant as a Customer Service Specialist, or CSA. His job was to receive, handle, and resolve incoming calls from customers from T-Mobile UK, client of respondent 24/7. It is uncontroverted that he is responsible for the call’s resolution as required by the customer and for resolving the latter’s needs, concerns and problems. It is likewise uncontroverted that like other call centers, 24/7 imposes a strict policy against “call avoidance”, which is in Part 2 of the Company’s code of conduct “The Code”.
The record shows that the complainant received a copy of The Code on April 11, 2011. In a show-cause memorandum dated August 18, 2012, he was charged with call avoidance, directed to submit a written explanation and informed of his suspension from August 19 to September 17, 2012. A portion thereof reads;
“We have received report from the clients last August 10, 2012 stating that you transferred a call from PAYM transact for week commencing 30th July and failed to put notes on the account. Below are the customer telephone number (CTN’s) of the calls that you transferred to PAYM transact and CTN’s that you failed to put memos in it.
- 075**-006*** – Call date July 30, call was transferred to PAYM
transact with no notes
- 079**-230***- Call date July 30, call was transferred to PAYM
transact with no notes
- 079**-069***- Call date August 1, call was transferred to PAYM
transact with no notes
In addition, random transfer audits from August 2-14 and noticed that you’ve been transferring calls to other departments without placing memos on the account.
Your role is to ensure that calls from a specific line of business (PAYM Transact) should be assisted and not to be transferred on the same queue. In addition, AVAYA manipulation such as numerous instances of unexplained short calls in a short span of time will be construed as Call Avoidance.
As stipulated in the The Code Section 1. Neglect of Duties C.5 Adherence to Zero-Tolerance Policy, k. Call Avoidance examples – Agent unintentionally stays in the conference while transferring to another department to avoid getting back on the queue. Failure to deliver the opening spiel within 5 seconds – Manipulating the Phone/ACD system such as the AVAYA
This is classified as a grave violation and subject to termination on the first offense.
On the other hand, he submitted the following written explanation.
“This is to respond to the show cause Memo that was served to me. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to hear my side of the story and defend myself.
Upon looking on all the CTN’s and tried to recall all of the calls some of them has a memo.”
“But nevertheless some of the other CTN’s doesn’t really has a memo took me more than 30 mins and got escalated due to customer wants to speak to a different adviser. I admit my actions in transferring it to the same LOB wherein it is really my fault but no manager at the moment to take the call to pacify the customer and to prevent hitting FCR, even though I know it is wrong, I transferred to same LOB.”
“Based on your audits that was the only instance that those transfers were made, all I can say and probably the only reason why I did not manage to put memo on those accounts and maybe, I can say that day, it’s because of me being out of focus at the time due to my schedule from school to work. I understand that this is supposed to be my responsibility, but I can say stress can really affect judgement and focus towards work. It seems to be a normal or “same old” reason out or alibi, but that is the truth.”
Subsequently, he was given a letter informing him of his dismissal for Call Avoidance effective August 19,2012.
Was the complainant illegally dismissed from employment?
The above-mentioned show-cause memorandum enumerates 3 instances when the complainant transferred calls to other CSA’s in the same account or LOB instead of resolving the caller’s issues himself, which as earlier stated, was his job. This portion of the memorandum was emphasized in bold letters. It also enumerates the instances when the complainant transferred calls to other CSAs without putting names on the account.
In his written explanation, which was quoted earlier, the complainant addressed only some of the calls in question. He admitted transferring these calls without placing memos on the account. In the same document he admitted that he knew that it was wrong to transfer calls to the same LOB and to transfer calls without putting memos on the account.
The above-mentioned termination notice explains why, with respect to transferred calls, memos should be put on the account by the transferring CSA.
In his second affidavit, Danny Ancheta, the respondent’s Employee services senior officer, explains the importance of the memos. In the same affidavit, Mr. Ancheta explains the reason why the complainant’s reason for transferring a call to another CSA is not acceptable . The complainant should have escalated the call to a team leader or if a supervisor is not present he should have offered a callback to the customer.
The complainant’s act of transferring calls to other CSAs in the same account constitutes dereliction of duty and violation of the company rules. His act of transferring calls to other CSAs without putting memos on the account numerous times constitutes gross and habitual neglect of his duties. It must therefore be concluded that he was validly dismissed from employment.
Was the Complainant illegally suspended?
In Gatbonton vs. NLRC, January 23, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the employee’s suspension is justified if his presence in the work place constitutes a serious and imminent threat to life or property of his employer or co-workers and that if it is not justified, he is entitled to the salaries withheld from him during its pendency. In the instant case, there is no showing whatsoever that the continued presence in the workplace constituted a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of his employer or co-workers. He may therefore recover the salaries withheld from August 19, 2012 to August 29, 2012.
Finally, the complainant may recover proportionate 13th month pay for 2012, there being no showing that the benefit in question has been paid.
WHEREFORE, respondent 24/7 Customer Philippines, Inc. is hereby ordered to pay the complainant 6,660 Pesos and 11,445 Pesos representing respectively the salaries corresponding to the period of his unjustified suspension and his unpaid proportionate 13th month pay for 2012. In all other aspects, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.