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Ask Slashdot: When Does Time Tracking at Work Go Too Far? 630

Posted by samzenpus
from the your-time-is-our-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work in a call center, full time, for a large mail order pharmacy. Recently, as part of their campaign to better track time spent both at and away from our desks, they have started tracking bathroom breaks. They use a Cisco phone system, and there is now a clock out option that says 'Bathroom.' My question is whether or not this is in any way acceptable in a large corporate environment (Around 800 people work at this same pharmacy) and is it even legal? How invasive would this really be considered, and beyond privacy concerns, how are they going to deal with the humiliation that their employees feel as a result of this? Has this happened to any of you?"
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Ask Slashdot: When Does Time Tracking at Work Go Too Far?

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  • Re:eat a lot.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by theRunicBard (2662581) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:36AM (#41351955)
    What this guy said. Any REAL action is going to take a lot of work on your part and give you no real benefit. Meanwhile, if you just game the system, you win! That's why we love the system. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a new job. Couldn't hurt.
  • Re:Unionize (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:39AM (#41351977)

    Seen how that tends to work out in the long run?

    Union in, costs up, profits down. Have to reduce costs so look into cost cutting measures which can include layoffs. Union in uproar and strikes. Costs spiral and profits tank. More cost cutting measures and can eventually cause the closure of the company or shifting of all work offshore with EVERYONE loosing their job.

    I've been involved in unions before and seen the destruction that they actually cause whilst claiming to be helping, NEVER AGAIN!

  • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

    by alere (2731427) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:55AM (#41352103)
    Joined just to comment on this. Used to work at a unionized call center for a major corporation, they did the exact same thing. Tracked bathroom breaks, had people coming to work while contagious and ill, wouldn't let you use PTO you earned because it was "not available that day". The only thing the union did for me before I quit was take my money. Now I am extremely happy in a non unionized job making a fair wage, infinitely better benefits, and I actually enjoy going to work (not so much getting up to go to work though :) ). I've been on both sides of the fence, and my experience with unions have been they are more worried about their bottom line than helping the people who pay them. They may be good for some people and really help them, but I have not experienced one that does.
  • Manager here (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:28AM (#41352351)

    I'm a manager at a call center. We track time away from calls, not because we care how long it takes you to take a smoke, or to take a crap, but for metrics. We have over 25,000 people on the phones world wide and how many minutes a call takes vs. how many workers are available for a call vs. how many workers are away from their desk (for whatever reason, we don't care) is critical to improving wait time.

    As usual for the paranoia gang around here, it's not really about you. It's a big wad of data that is considered on the whole to make better business decisions.

    Now back to your extended shitter break.

  • Re:Unionize (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infDALIamous.net minus painter> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:40AM (#41352427) Homepage

    Because organized labor is detrimental to the economy and a joke.

    The economic boom of the 1950s coincided with high union membership. The economic collapse we've had since 1980 coincides with low union membership. History says you're wrong.

    If you can't make yourself valuable to your employer on your own merits without these sort of government-backed or thug-backed coercive tactics, you really don't deserve the job.

    Unions are not "government-backed". Corporations are -- governments issue corporate charters, governments issue property deeds, governments issue copyrights and patents. And the history of labor is full of the aristocrat class hiring strike-breaking thugs.

    All that does is make the corporation less competitive with other global players, which is bad for our economy.

    A race to the bottom is what's bad for our economy.

    Stop drinking the right-wing Kool Aid; amnesia and ignorance are its main side effects.

  • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:56AM (#41352553) Journal
    I worked at a place where management took the stall doors away in the toilets so they could see if people were slacking off. Union had the doors back up that afternoon and that was the last we heard of it.
  • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

    by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:08AM (#41352645)
    The only problem is this: I worked for Qwest / CenturyLink, who DOES have a union. Guess what? Bathroom breaks were still tracked, down to the minute, just like regular breaks, lunch, arrival, and departure.

    On top of this, I was forced to quit my job there when the union didn't allow me to change my schedule due to lack of seniority. I had my kids coming home for the summer, and there's not a lot of daycares that stay open until 8:00 pm; none that I could afford on my salary.

    Unions are great if they really do look after the workers, but this isn't the 50s anymore. If you need any sort of special accommodations, or the union decides some egregious policies aren't really an issue (bathroom breaks, mandatory overtime, etc) then you're screwed either way.

    Quit and find a new job. That's my advice; you'll be happier.
  • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Informative)

    by InsectOverlord (1758006) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:25AM (#41352797)
    When I worked as a consultant for a software company I had to log every break I took, no matter how short, for billing purposes. While that sucks, it's understandable. But one didn't have to log "bathroom". One just logged "personal" and that could be a private call, coffee, bathroom, fresh air, whatever. Requiring the employee to log bathroom breaks strikes me as a totally unacceptable violation of privacy.
  • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:31PM (#41353839) Journal
    That's called dumping and there is international law against it. If the US chooses, they can bring a complaint against China to the WTO. And in fact there is one ongoing [wsj.com].
  • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:59PM (#41354687) Homepage

    The thing though is that 'right to work' as implemented is Orwellian in meaning. It is really the right to fire for no stated reason. That reason is often enough union-like activities.

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

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