Can’t have this job, health & safety!

There’s a company called Sensee that employs people to work from home as customer service call centre agents. They sent me an email inviting me to register with them online and complete their application forms. I clicked along and after a few pages of bumph was presented with a list of requirements that needed to be met in order to work as a ‘home agent’. As I read through them it became clear that these requirements could be divided in to two types: those which are the result of business needs and those which are the result of Sensee having to comply with Health & Safety Law. For example, having a mobile phone, a dedicated landline and a wired and fire-walled Internet connection was clearly necessary in order to ensure Sensee could guarantee their clients an agreed level of service and operability from its ‘home agents’. However, requiring that I have a dedicated work space that is naturally lit and well-ventilated, a desk and office chair (meeting certain specifications), and a PC (as opposed to a laptop) are all things that they have no choice but to require of me. If they don’t, then they will have failed to comply with Health & Safety Law and they will be fined or even shut down as a business.

Making the necessary adjustments to my Internet and phone set-up at home would be feasible and would not cost me much, if anything. But most importantly having to do so is perfectly understandable because it’s clear that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to perform the role to a useful and respectable standard. Fair enough.

Having to meet the Health & Safety requirements, however, makes no sense at all because it would require me to buy a new desk, office chair, and desktop PC – even though I don’t need them. I must buy these things that I don’t need in order to be employed by Sensee. And they must insist on me having a certain type of environment to work in, even though the type of desk, office chair and computer I have does not affect my ability to perform the role they wish me to, because if they don’t they will face fines or closure.

Health & Safety Law has made it unfeasible for me, and probably many others like me, to work for Sensee and is therefore making it harder for the company to find staff. In a world where we weren’t forced to comply with the ideas of a group of people with guns, in other words in a society without Health & Safety Law, Sensee and I could have entered into a contractual arrangement and both been better off. As it is, we’re both worse off.

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