'A unique working environment': health, sickness and absence management in UK call centres

Phil Taylor, Chris Baldry, Peter Bain, Vaughan Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


This article fills an important gap in our knowledge of call centres by focusing specifically on occupational ill-health. We document the recent emergence of health and safety concerns, assess the responses of employers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), critique the existing regulatory framework and present a holistic diagnostic model of occupationally induced ill-health. This model is utilized to investigate quantitative and qualitative data from a case study in the privatized utility sector, where the relative contributions to employee sickness and ill-health from factors relating to ergonomics, the built environment and work organization are evaluated. The principal conclusions are that the distinctive character of call-handling is the major cause of occupational ill-health and that effective remedial action would involve radical job re-design. Finally, the limitations of recent HSE guidance are exposed and industrial relations processes and outcomes analysed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-458
Number of pages23
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • call centres
  • health and safety
  • sickness absence
  • absence management
  • trade unions
  • work
  • employment
  • management science


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