Unite is demanding that employers take action to ensure that workers are granted toilet dignity in the workplace.
Unite believes that tens of thousands of workers in the UK either are not provided with decent toilets or have undue, unnecessary or officious restrictions placed on them when they attempt to use the facilities provided.
Examples discovered by Unite where toilet dignity is denied include: bank workers being required to urinate in a bucket, no female toilets being provided on construction sites and bus drivers not being allowed a break for over five hours at a time.
The sectors where Unite has identified problems where workers are often denied toilet dignity include banking, bus driving, construction, finance, lorry driving, warehousing and agriculture.
Unite has also found that women in particular are denied toilet dignity, especially when they are on their period. Unite launched a period dignity campaign in September and the campaign is now being extended to sectors such as construction and passenger transport where there are additional challenges.
Having to continually hold on to use a toilet has wide ranging health implications including urinary tract infections, damage to the bladder and the bowel, and can cause toxins to build up in the body.
Unite is highlighting the problems experienced by workers today (November 19) as it is World Toilet Day. Although much of the emphasis on this day is about providing clean toilets in the developing world, Unite believes that a spotlight needs to be shone on the problems experienced by many UK workers on a daily basis.
Employers have a clear duty to provide decent toilets and washing facilities as part of the Welfare (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, with separate regulations applying to the construction industry. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) administers these regulations and while it has the power to take legal action, this rarely occurs.
“It is simply disgraceful that in 2018 tens of thousands of UK workers are denied toilet dignity at work,” said Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail.
“The examples that Unite has revealed are simply staggering and it is clearly deeply humiliating for the workers who are being denied toilet dignity.
“Employers have got absolutely no excuse for ensuring toilet dignity and if they fail to do so they should be prosecuted by the HSE,” she added.
“Unite will not be passive on this issue, if workers are denied toilet dignity we will name and shame the guilty parties.”