Accenture, a professional services company that provides external professional services around the world, has issued disclosure forms to new hires and existing staff which state that they are completely aware that the content they must view as part of the duties may lead to them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to reports in the US and the UK.
The Financial Time and The Verge have both revealed that the disclosure statement reads: “I understand the content I will be reviewing may be disturbing. It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Accenture contractors are employed as outside moderators for social media sites. These moderators take over the tasks that include deleting any inappropriate content from the platform. In order to do so they must view and listen to disturbing posts of a violent or sexual in nature. A normal day’s work would involve these moderators looking over the inappropriate nature of objectionable materials and review disturbing images.
This step, to send out the disclosure statement, comes as Facebook is braced for legal actions taken by former content moderators that were initiated due to the PTSD they are experiencing as a result of the content they had to view. Legal actions have been initiated in California and Ireland.
Disclosure statements were sent out to Accenture employees in the United States and Europe to sign and return. Current staff members sent the disclosure statement in the form of an update. Accenture has three content moderation offices for Facebook in Europe based in Warsaw, Lisbon and Dublin. As these offices are located in the European Union they are subject to some of the stricest workplace safety rules possible.
The wording of form says that “no job is worth sacrificing my mental or emotional health” and that “this job is not for everyone” and suggests that people who are prone to mental health struggles due to work might not be a good match for Accenture. There is no provision made, in that statement, to say that Accenture is prepared to, as required by federal law in the US, make reasonable accommodations to individual who become disabled due to their job targets and tasks.
Facebook and Google, YouTube’s parent company have both shared public statements which say that they were not asked to approve or review Accenture’s new disclosure statement. They did say that they direct their professional service partners to have in place psychological support for content moderators.
Accenture included details of support services that are provided on the disclosure forms, such as a hotline and a wellness coach. These services are not provided by professional trained staff and Accenture included the line in the disclosure agreement that they “cannot diagnose or treat mental disorders”.
On the statement Accenture has said that the wellbeing of its contractors is is a “top priority” and went on to say that only new joiners were being asked to sign the forms, whereas present members of staff employees were being sent the form as an update. The statement said: “We regularly update the information we give our people to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the work they do”.
It is important that Social media moderators do not sign this statement until they consult with a lawyer familiar with with work injury law and employee rights.