Gov’t eyes hundreds of call centre jobs; amends law to allow recordings

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With its eyes set on hundreds of jobs in the call centre industry, the Government on Wednesday voted in the National Assembly to amend the Interception of Communications law to allow for recordings between clients and providers.

Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes piloted amendments to the primary legislation, which when assented to by the President and becomes law, will provide for call centres to record conversations between their providers and clients.

The original law prevents the recording of conversations unless it is ordered by a court or if this becomes necessary in a national emergency.

Minister Hughes said that the original law restrained large investors from moving into Guyana.

“One of the gaps for most of the international clients that have expressed an interest in investing in Guyana is the recognition that the primary act does not allow for the recording of conversations and that’s why, Mr Speaker, we have come to this House to seek passage of these amendments,” Hughes said in the National Assembly.

Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes

She noted that the call centre industry is rapidly growing not only in the world but in Guyana, with the country already having 5,000 seats [jobs] and it was just in January last that she had a conversation with a call centre provider who already has a client waiting to hire 400 persons.

“We recognise that to remain viable, we must be able to attract and continue to attract major international clientele; the passing of this amendment is likely to create a herculean leap in confidence in terms of those potential clients,” Hughes stated.

In explaining the need for the changes to the law, she pointed to the fact that often if you call and are connected to a call centre, the recording lets you know you that you are being recorded, and therefore you have a choice to end the conversation or to proceed.

“Internationally, it is accepted that once you stay on the line, and you proceed, you are consenting to the communication being recorded, and the primary purpose for doing that is ensuring quality of the service being provided…,” Hughes explained.

Further, the law allows for recordings being as part of the “course of employment,” meaning that call centre workers consent, at the time of their hiring and as part of their employment contract, to being recorded.

The Minister noted that the call centre business provides employment not only to young people but to a range of individuals across ages and sectors, and “therefore as a country we see this as an industry that can provide much-needed job to our citizens.”

She noted that Guyana has a unique advantage for the expansion of call centre operations, given that our language is English and Guyana shares a similar time zone with the Western world and has a “very literate” population. The fact that the country is not susceptible to extreme weather events that could make internet connectivity unreliable is another advantage, Hughes stated.

“The key tents of the amendments are to provide the opportunity for us to record conversations; with the passage of time and technology this is now a necessary foundation to be able to move forward and to expand our business,” Hughes stated.

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