Employment

Introduction

These guidelines provide an overall orientation to the company, the specifics of what we expect, and a promise of fair and uniform treatment to all. You will quickly learn that our primary task is to provide customers with superb service in a professional, no-nonsense and forthright manner. We place much emphasis on careful selection of new employees, rigorous staff training/monitoring, and precisely documented systems and procedures.

Company Policies

We work hard to ensure that company policies are consistent with federal and state law and that they are always reasonable and fair. We reserve the right to change policies at any time.

Equal Opportunity Employment

Centratel makes employment decisions based on merit and business requirements and not on race, color, citizenship status, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, political affiliation, or any other factor protected by law.

In addition, we foster a non-discriminatory environment for individuals with disabilities. All that matters is that employees can safely perform essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation. If they can do the job and the accommodation doesn’t present an undue hardship on Centratel or other staff members, there is no reason for them not to be on our team.

Although management is primarily responsible for insuring equal opportunity, it takes all of us to maintain a non-discriminatory work place. Please treat everyone with care and respect.

At-Will Employment

Oregon is an at-will state; therefore your employment with Centratel is at-will, meaning there is no contract regarding the duration of your employment. We have the right to terminate your employment with or without notice, or otherwise discipline, transfer, or demote you at any time. Likewise, you are free to terminate your employment with us at any time, with or without notice. Note that Centratel employees cannot enter an employment contract or make any agreement contrary to this policy without written approval from the President.

I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification

All offers of employment are contingent on verification of your right to work in the United States. As required by federal law, you must provide original documents verifying your right to work in the United States. A new employee is required to provide appropriate documentation within three days of their hire date.

Confidentiality

You are asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement upon accepting employment with us. This agreement means that you will not disclose or use any confidential information. This confidentiality agreement applies after, as well as during, your employment with Centratel.
Our callers and clients entrust us with personal information as well as important details relating to their businesses. In safeguarding this information, Centratel earns the respect and further trust of our clients. Sharing information about a client outside the office is strictly prohibited.

Disclosure of confidential information could lead to termination of employment, as well as other possible legal action. Do not remove or make copies of any Centratel records, business reports or documents without prior management approval.

We do not furnish individual information about existing employees to outside parties without prior permission from the employee, except in the case of a written court order. If the employee is expecting someone to call our office to verify any information please notify your supervisor.

Introductory Period

The first 90 days of employment is considered an introductory period. Performance is reviewed at the end of this introductory period. After satisfactory completion of the intorductory period, employees are classified as “regular” employees. Full time employees, upon completion of the introductory period, are eligible to participate in our benefit plan.

Completion of the introductory period does not provide any particular job rights or guarantees.

Employee Classifications

Regular Employment: A “regular” employee is one who is not a temporary employee and has satisfactorily passed the introductory period.

  • Full-time Employee: An employee whose normal, regularly scheduled work week consists of 35.00 or more hours of work.
  • Part-time Employee: An employee whose normal, regularly scheduled work week consists of 34.99 or less hours of work.
    In addition to the above classifications, employees are classified as either exempt or non-exempt, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Exempt Employees: Executive, administrative, and professional employees as defined by federal regulations. These salaried employees are exempt from overtime.
  • Non-Exempt Employees: Employees who do not work in exempt positions as defined by federal and state law. Paid by the hour, non-exempt employees are compensated 1 ½ times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek.

Exempt (Salaried) Employees

Exempt employees, also known as salaried employees, are paid an established monthly or annual salary and are expected to fulfill the duties of their positions regardless of hours worked. Exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime compensation or compensatory time off, and are not required to adhere to strict time, record keeping, and attendance rules for pay purposes.

Per state rules, salaried employees are not subject to reduction of salary for partial day absences. However, it is expected that salaried employees routinely report to work for a minimum of a forty hour work week and are expected to work until their work is completed.

If a salaried (exempt) employee has exhausted accrued Paid Time Off (PTO), deductions from pay will be made when absent from work for a full day or more. If you are a salaried (exempt) employee and miss work it is mandatory that any accumulated PTO be used. If no PTO remains, the missed time will be deducted from salary and commission, if any, on a pro-rated basis.

Requests for time off must be submitted in writing and approved in advance by one’s immediate supervisor.

Absences

All absences are noted in individual employee files. Whenever an employee is absent, whether the absence is scheduled or unscheduled, compensated or uncompensated, an absence form must be completed, initialed by a supervisor and submitted to the department manager. Telephone Answering Service (TAS) staff absence forms must be initialed by the TAS Manager. Exempt staff absence forms must be initialed by the CFO or COO.

Absence for jury duty is unpaid but does not affect a hourly employee’s PTO allotment.

Business Hours & Work Schedules

Our “walk-in” administrative office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Centratel’s telephone answering service operates twenty four hours a day, every day of the year, conducting business on all holidays and weekends. So, our TAS staff works day, evening, and “graveyard” schedules. The preferred daytime shifts tend to be held by those who have been with the company for the longest because if two  Telephone Service Representatives (TSRs) bid on an open shift, the most senior TSR is awarded the shift. However, some TSRs prefer evening or even graveyard shifts due to their personal schedules outside the office.

The TAS staffing schedule is created in a format that does not change from week to week. The various “shift blocks,” held by individual Telephone Service Representatives are guaranteed: A TSR’s block can’t be taken away from that TSR via the bidding process. However, a particular block can be altogether eliminated due to a revision in the overall scheduling (not something that happens very often). As mentioned above, shift block “ownership” is granted on a seniority basis with every TSR having an opportunity to bid should a shift block become available.

“Going Home Early.” When incoming traffic is slow, a supervisor may ask for a volunteer to go home early. The supervisor will gauge certain parameters to determine who will be selected such as Seniority, PTO hours available, the employees schedule, etc. Note: Going home early is your option and NOT required. 

Bidding on a Shift

This is an opportunity for TSRs to bid on a new or recently vacated shift block:

1)    A shift block opening will be announced by email to all TSRs. If a TSR is on vacation, management will make every attempt to reach the TSR, informing them of the new shift block availability.

2)    There will be only one bidding period for each block and the bidding period will last a minimum of 48 hours from the time/date of the announcement.

3)    To apply for the new shift block, a bid must be submitted by email to the C.O.O. within the bidding period. No late bids will be accepted.

4)    If a TSR bids on a new block and is ultimately awarded that block, their old block will become available. Once the TSR changes shifts he/she cannot bid on a new shift for 90 days. (However, the 90-day waiting period is waived if no one bids on the available block.)

5)    TSRs who are happy in their existing schedule block do not have to do anything during the bidding process: TSRs who do not bid will not, under any circumstances, be changed to another block.

6)    If two or more TSRs bid on the open block, the block will be awarded by seniority.

7)    Once a year there is a complete re-bidding process in which every block becomes available and every TSR has the opportunity to move to a new shift. We do this so we can calculate the best coverage possible based on statistics. Sometimes shift blocks change. Here is where seniority matters…

Work Breaks

Non-exempt employees are entitled to one ten minute paid break for every four hour segment of each workday. Normally, one break is taken sometime between the start of work and the meal period and one sometime after the meal period and before the end of work. Note that additional short “smoke breaks” are not permitted no matter the degree of personal nicotine addiction.

Daytime shifts and most Swing shifts, include a one hour unpaid, on or off-site meal break. Employees must check the schedule daily to see when their meal break is scheduled as it can change depending on traffic and staffing. One hour unpaid meal breaks are not usually scheduled during graveyard and/or some of the late evening shifts: these shifts typically have less call traffic so meal and rest breaks can be taken between calls. Graveyard and some late evening shifts are given one ten minute paid break for every four hour segment of each workday, as well as a paid 30 minute meal break during which the employee is relieved of all duties. 

During paid ten minute breaks, the TSRs and Administrative employees are not permitted to leave the property for any reason.

During breaks or lunches, the staff member should not “hang out” in operations or administration, to engage employees who are not on break in casual conversation. It is important that we work together to keep the operations center and front office area quiet, calm and relaxed. All of us must avoid loud discussions as voices can reverberate throughout the office space and can intrude upon the conversations we are having with callers and clients, and in our personal attempts at focus and concentration. Let’s be considerate.

Lactation Breaks

In recognition of the well documented health advantages of breastfeeding for infants and mothers and as part of our family-friendly policies and benefits, the company provides a supportive environment to enable breastfeeding employees to express their milk during work hours (for up to one year following the birth of a child). Discrimination and harassment of breastfeeding mothers in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Staff Meetings

Regularly scheduled TSR staff meetings are held in order to review changes in operating procedures, to discuss special requirements for specific accounts, to review and/or discuss staff/employee issues and/or for training. Attendance at these staff meetings is mandatory and employees will be paid at their normal rate of pay. We will diligently attempt to make the timing convenient but the TSR should be prepared to attend a staff meeting on days off if that is when a meeting is scheduled. If for some reason one cannot attend, it is important to let the TAS manager know in advance. Telephone answering service TSR staff meetings are held every 2nd Tuesday of the month. (Updated 1/1/2013)

Administrative staff meetings are held weekly, generally on Tuesday mornings at approx. 10:00 a.m.. There will be occasional off-premise company-wide meetings.

Employee Evaluation Reviews

At the end of the 90-day introductory period, the first documented employee review will take place. After the initial 90-day review, subsequent reviews will occur annually from the hire date. Employees are evaluated in the following areas: dependability, job knowledge,  attendance, communication skills and goal setting/goal achievement. During reviews, management will recognize strengths as well as areas that need improvement. We will also establish goals for the months to come. Compensation increases are not associated with performance reviews. There will not be a pay increase when evaluations occur. At Centratel, raises can happen at any time between evaluations. Raises are 70% a result of performance and 30% a result of time employed by Centratel.

Employment Termination

Centratel is not able to guarantee or promise employment for any specified length of time. If it is in the company’s best interests to reduce the work force, we will make every effort to give as much notice as possible to employees.

If an employee decides to leave employment, we ask for a minimum two-week written notice so proper arrangements can be made in work schedules and a replacement can be hired.

Centratel considers any of the following to be voluntarily termination:

  1. Written or verbal resignation.
  2. Failure to return from an approved leave of absence on the date specified.
  3. Without notice, failure to report to work.

An employee may be terminated for poor performance, failure of a drug test, refusal to take a drug test, misconduct, excessive absences and/or tardiness, discrimination, harassment, or other violations of Centratel policies. Termination disqualifies the employee from pending and/or future bonuses. If an employee quits without a 2-week notice, any pending and/or future bonuses will be forfeited. In Oregon, employment is “at-will”; the employee or the company have the right to end your employment with or without cause, at any time.