As many of you may know, a bill was introduced on December 7, 2011 in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3596) aimed to limit a company’s ability to offshore its call centers. The bill defines its purpose:
“To require a publicly available a list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas and to make such companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans and to require disclosure of the physical location of business agents engaging in customer service communications.”
The “United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act” would require companies to notify the Secretary of Labor if the company intends to relocate a call center offshore (outside of the United States) not fewer than 120 days prior to such offshoring. An employer that is put on the list would be ineligible for Federal grants or Federal guaranteed loans for a period of five (5) years after being placed on the list (unless the employer can demonstrate that the lack of the grant or loan would threaten national security, result in a substantial job loss in the United States or harm the environment). Further, the head of an agency awarding a civilian or defense-related contract would give preference to employers who do not appear on the list. The bill further requires that businesses that either initiate or receive a customer service communication disclose their physical location subject to some exceptions.
The bill has opened up a heated debate and has many companies watching the legislation closely. The bill, sponsored by Timothy Bishop (D-NY) and supported by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), has caused a stir in India and the Philippines where many offshored call center operations currently operate. India and the Philippines are calling the bill an example of US protectionism while the CWA has released report on instances of fraud and security breaches in offshore call centers to help gather support for the bill.
Companies planning to offshore call center operations should be aware of this bill and DLA Piper will continue to monitor and report on further significant developments.