To want to be able to go to the toilet occasionally whilst at work?

(62 Posts)
CattyBrown Tue 05-Feb-13 07:58:54

I work afternoons and during the morning before I start work and also during my 10 minute break I tend to drink quite a bit of water, it's something that I have always done.

My supervisor however does not like anyone going to the toilet during shift time (IF I do go, I go when it is very quite and there is no work whatsoever to do). She always makes sly digs about how I should go on my break etc.

As long am I am not abusing the situation and going 6-7 times a shift, am I right in thinking that I should be allowed to go the toilet without being questioned and made to feel like a naughty schoolgirl?

StickEmUp Tue 05-Feb-13 08:00:45

I think toilet trips are a human right actually.
My old manager used to come in if you were more than 5 minutes though.
Silly moo.

SDeuchars Tue 05-Feb-13 08:00:59

So you are basically going once an hour outside breaks? That seems excessive on a daily basis. Have you seen a doctor to make sure you do not have an infection or diabetes? Or cut the water - how much are you drinking?

StickEmUp Tue 05-Feb-13 08:01:15

Der, not human right as in listed, but part of being a human, needs, etc.

ErikNorseman Tue 05-Feb-13 08:02:30

If you need the toilet, you need the toilet! If I were you I'd consider raising a grievance for harassment.

Bearmonkeysmum Tue 05-Feb-13 08:15:07

SDeuchars if you read the op again you will see that they didn't state that they were going once an hour.

Op I've been in a similar situation where a manager used to try to ban people from using the toilet during a shift & if she did graciously allow you to go then would time you & expect you to pay back the time from a break or tag it on to the shift end. A call to HR confirmed we should be allowed to go when needed & as long as not excessive as in your example there would be no concern/right to question.

I think your supervisor is a bit daft to be honest, as Eric said if you need to go, you need to go.

Bubbless Tue 05-Feb-13 08:18:57

Legally you have a right to a toilet break every 15mins I'm sure I read somewhere! (Had trouble with my employer when very pregnant re:toilet breaks!!)

MortifiedAdams Tue 05-Feb-13 08:19:44

If you have a ten minute break, am I right in thinking that you work a five or six hour shift? How many times are we talking about here?

Assuming you're not taking the piss (sorry) with the number or length of breaks, of course you are entitled to go when you need to! Perhaps you should point out to her that her staff will be much more productive if they are comfortable, rather than crossing their legs and watching the clock until their next break comes so they can get some relief!!

Jinsei Tue 05-Feb-13 08:36:02

I never understand why employers get arsey over toilet breaks. I mean, it's not exactly fun to go to the loo, and if people are going to skive, surely they would think of something more exciting than a trip to the toilet!

It has never occurred to me to monitor how long the people in my team spend in the loo. Having said that, there's always a queue for the ladies' in our office, so maybe they're all a bunch of shirkers and I just never noticed!! shock

PerAspera Tue 05-Feb-13 08:51:30

Actually, I can see how employers can get arsey about toilet breaks. I used to work for a bank which had a bus stop right outside. There were three of us manning the counter as it was a small but busy branch.

There was one employee who always needed the loo just about two seconds before a particular bus drew up - the one that had all the OAP's from the sheltered housing on it. They always came in to withdraw their pension and it had to be done in specific sums for this, that and the other. They were lovely people, but they always wanted to chat; and we always had a queue so it could make other customers a bit narked at their wait.

Funnily enough she was finished just as the last one was being served... Used to drive us nuts, but legally there was nothing we could do.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 05-Feb-13 08:57:14

PerAspera, that's bad luck that you had a conniving colleague, but not everyone is necessarily like that.

The OP in fact specifically says she goes when it's quiet.

OP, I think you ought to call HR. They will most likely respond as described in Bearmonkeysmum's post, and you could tell them that you were asking because of feedback you've had from your manager about it.

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 08:58:20

If you work with a PC you're meant to get up and stretch your legs, flex your hands and focus your eyes on something else regularly, anyway.

I've never really thought about what's 'reasonable' in terms of loo trips, though. It just wouldn't cross my mind that adults would need to be questioned on this. In fact I don't like schools questioning children on this.

riveroise Tue 05-Feb-13 09:01:53

I'm sure there's a legal right to use toilet during shifts at work.

Not in USA, according to the book "Nickel and dimed" a day care worker had to wear incontinence pads as she had no legal right to use the toilet during her shifts. sad

Let's hope The Consevatives don't take away the legal right to use the loo during work time, here.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Tue 05-Feb-13 10:21:26

"Not in USA, according to the book "Nickel and dimed" a day care worker had to wear incontinence pads as she had no legal right to use the toilet during her shifts." shock

Really? As of course having to wet ones self while at work is essential for the creation of a good working environment...

nicelyneurotic Tue 05-Feb-13 11:02:54

Someone once told me that teachers have one of the highest rates of bowel cancer, due to holding in the need to go to the toilet until lunch or break times.

Just mentioning this as I'm sure there are health risks to not going, UTIs in your case.

Agree with other posters that you should speak to HR.

I'm so grateful my employer isn't like this. I drink loads of water and need to go ALL the time!

KatyPeril Tue 05-Feb-13 11:22:44

YANBU. I remember working in a spuermarket years ago and we weren't allowed to use the toilet (the manager kept the keys for it!). We had to beg pretty much. We weren't allowed drinks either so I guess we didn't need the toilet that much anyway!

MrsKoala Tue 05-Feb-13 11:42:11

As long as you aren't abusing it - like one colleague of mine who plays angry birds in the loo whenever it gets busy! - then I think it's very petty. However, now jobs are more scarce I do think employers have started this bollocks. At my job you have to put a different code into the phone whenever you step away from your desk. Codes for tea, toilet, talking to a colleague etc. then at the end of the month you all get told how long you spent doing each in a disapproving way. When I was pregnant they were always 'mentioning' it. Also I was told off for sighing and rubbing my back confused

Meglet Tue 05-Feb-13 11:43:49


I have IBS and go 3 times an hour some days. Once an hour would be a good day for me. And I can't face a screen for long periods as I lose concentration, much better to have a walk to the loo anyway.

quoteunquote Tue 05-Feb-13 12:41:33

Please name and shame these companies that treat people so badly, as I don't want to fund them by spending any of my money in their premises.

and join a union, It's not even good business sense to treat people like that.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 05-Feb-13 13:09:10

I agree with quote, places like that need exposing. I'm particularly appalled at the company MrsKoala describes shock

MrsKoala Tue 05-Feb-13 13:21:44

It's completely normal in big company/low paid/call centre environment. I work for a massive company in HR no less and we deal with hr for lots of other large companies, managers call us to ask such nice questions such as 'what's the minimum breaks I can give staff' 'can we legally refuse paternity leave' 'can we make it difficult for staff to claim expenses' etc. Some of the employers we have give bear min breaks and do not let staff use the toilet, the women have to wear double pads and tampons when on their periods as they can't go to the loo for hours. Once when I was pregnant I was the only one left on the phones and had to go to the loo, I thought I was going to wet myself but couldn't log off, so just went. No one knew, but I spent 20 mins fretting almost seeing my pants before I realised I was going to have to travel home in pissy trousers on the train if I did not go.

MrsKoala Tue 05-Feb-13 13:23:33

I mean I just went to the toilet not I just 'went' where I was sitting blush

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 13:49:48

MrsKoala smile

But that's an awful lesson that girls and women learn early, from school, about 'padding up' on a period because they may not be allowed to go to a toilet. It took me till relatively recently when I was in my 40s to be able to say to a boss who was anxious for me not to leave a meeting to go to the loo, 'I'm going to change a tampon, everyone OK with that?'

WorriedMummy73 Tue 05-Feb-13 13:53:08

Applauds LineRunner!

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 13:54:20


MrsKoala Tue 05-Feb-13 14:04:17

Once I was in a meeting and had to go to the loo, so said 'I'm just nipping to the loo' I was met with stern faces, I stood up and picked up my bag and a male colleague said accusingly 'why are you taking your bag' and I said 'because I need to change my tampon' and everyone gasped, my boss was not impressed. But FFS, seriously? Biology 101. 30 year old women menstruate.

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 14:13:00

I just walk out of meetings now, and no-one ever says a thing. In fact they all look pointedly away from me and the door.

I do occasionally wonder if they are expecting me to come back into a meeting with blood all over my hands and a wild stare screaming 'I am the goddess.'

CheeseandPickledOnion Tue 05-Feb-13 14:21:16

I think I've just fallen in love with Linerunner.

CalamityKate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:24:34

I used to work in a factory and we had breaks every couple of hours and we still went to the loo when we needed to! In fact even if I didn't need a wee I'd go anyway and have a little nap. Da management used to grumble from time to time, especially if my 5 minute nap turned into a proper 15 minute sleep necessitating someone coming to bang on the door to wake me up, but there wasn't much they could do really.

IrnBruChew Tue 05-Feb-13 14:26:31

Hahaha linerunner!

When I worked in a call centre I had to log <snort> every toilet break, in an 8 hour shift you weren't expected to go over 20 mins all in. Not that bad I suppose.

deleted203 Tue 05-Feb-13 14:27:55

This is completely ridiculous! Of course you need to go to the loo. FWIW I need to go fairly frequently (middle aged bladder, had 5 DCs grin) and it can be tricky at times as a teacher. Lessons are an hour long and I just have to go in between (and in a double lesson I'm often crossing my legs after too much coffee in the staffroom). Kids aren't supposed to go in lessons, but if it is a teenage girl asking I generally say quietly, 'Are you desperate?' because obviously if you are 15 and your period's just started unexpectedly I'm not going to force you to sit there for another 45 mins or so.

cantspel Tue 05-Feb-13 14:28:02

We should all be able to go to the loo when needed but 6 to 7 loo breaks in a afternoon is a bit excessive unless you have a medical condition.

ShakeWellBeforeOpening Tue 05-Feb-13 14:32:59

I bet they dont question how many cigarette breaks people get ! That used to really piss me off at work when people kept disappearing for a fag.

cantspel Tue 05-Feb-13 14:35:25

I wish i could find one of these firms that allow you untold fag breaks as everywhere i have ever worked hasn't allowed any.

If you want a fag you have it on your break.

CalamityKate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:47:58

When I first started at the aforementioned factory you could smoke whenever you liked; there were big ashtrays full of sand all over the place.

Then that was banned and you had to smoke on breaks.

CalamityKate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:49:35

...just as well really otherwise what with fag breaks, weeks and naps I'd never have got any actual work done <grin>

CalamityKate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:49:59

Wees not weeks.

Pourquoimoi Tue 05-Feb-13 15:09:17

I also know someone who used to go for a 30min nap most days in the toilet (not me). That is clearly taking the mick but normal toilet breaks should always be allowed.

As for linerunner - well done you and the poster who did the same when accused about taking her handbag. I assume that was a man without a wife?!

Pourquoimoi Tue 05-Feb-13 15:10:46

OP - on a pragmatic note, could you down your water intake a little at you're breaks? You said you drank quite a lot so don't know if it would cause you discomfort not to drink it?

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Tue 05-Feb-13 15:37:27

"I do occasionally wonder if they are expecting me to come back into a meeting with blood all over my hands and a wild stare screaming 'I am the goddess.' "

You should do that one day, just to see the look on their faces. And then, of course, report back to MN grin

Oh, and I agree with quoteunquote. Name these companies so we know who not to give our money to, and join a union.

marjproops Tue 05-Feb-13 17:29:42

When I worked in an office I needed the loo a lot.

What really peeved me was that the smokers could have a 5 min 'smoke break' yet we non-smokers were expected to stay working...and some people smoked a lOT.

as for the loo...geez, its like at school, OP you should raise your hand, jumping up and down in your seat crying ''please Miss, can I go to the toilet'' !

failing that, pee in her seat!!!

IrnBruChew Tue 05-Feb-13 17:40:40

We are not allowed smoke breaks. The boss smokes like a chimney though and goes for a fag every 30 mins. No fair.

sicutlilium Tue 05-Feb-13 17:46:05

Seconds the applause!

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 18:03:12

As for linerunner - well done you and the poster who did the same when accused about taking her handbag. I assume that was a man without a wife?!

Why yes, how on earth did you guess? grin

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 18:06:29

Another useful retort to a toilet-mutterer is, 'I'll just sit here and bleed on my seat, shall I?'

MortifiedAdams Tue 05-Feb-13 22:09:34

Is it wrong that I am hoping to be questioned on leaving a meeting to go to the loo just so I can use LineRunners fantastic retort?

alemci Tue 05-Feb-13 22:20:52

I work in a school and often get stuck in a classroom. i need to go after an hour especially if you drink tea. I can't wait until break or lunch. The kids are allowed to go if they need to as well which I think is good. When it is cold you go more and after having kids.


FlouncingMintyy Tue 05-Feb-13 22:25:34

Why can't people understand the op? It seems perfectly clear to me.

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 22:27:39

It won't happen, now, Mortified, you'll have that 'Challenge Me' glint in your eye and no-one will dare.

EarlyMorningBaconDemon Tue 05-Feb-13 23:02:50

I had a moment like that in my previous job when my period started very unexpectedly (stupid implant). We had to log on to a specific setting whenever we needed the loo or a fag break, and if you took more than 20 minutes in an 8-hour shift they questioned you.

At one point I logged in to the section for "personal time" and the team leader accosted me at my desk, asking me why I was going and that I'd already had my 20 minutes of allotted time due to a urinary infection.

My retort was "if you don't let me leave I'm going to stand here and bleed all over this fucking carpet, which given the colour would probably improve it a little. Now can you please get the fuck out of my way?"

He was ashen. I almost died with laughter afterwards.

BuntyPenfold Tue 05-Feb-13 23:31:57

I have often wondered what other people do about this.

I work in a small day nursery and from 1-4 pm there are only 2 staff with the children, so neither should go to the toilet, as that leaves 1 adult alone with the children, which is not allowed (child protection but it protects the adults from false allegations too.)

Sometimes it is very difficult if on a heavy period etc. WE have to decide whether to break the rules. sad

MumVsKids Tue 05-Feb-13 23:46:47

Egg - call centre, had to put a code in phone for loo breaks.

Bloody nightmare sad

joanofarchitrave Tue 05-Feb-13 23:53:48

Thank God I have never, ever found myself working anywhere where any of this shit happens.

Maybe I've just spent my life working at jobs where nobody notices whether I am there or not... but it's got to be preferable to this.

Since this sort of company is bound to have professional snoopers monitoring the Internet for mentions of itself, I can see why nobody is naming and shaming. But if you think you can safely do so, feel extremely free.

Sparrows12 Wed 06-Feb-13 08:29:11

Join a union - the TUC have been campaigning on this for years:

Alternatively, you could try taking your employer hostage, as in this Chinese example:

Of course, we will all eventually end up like these Chinese workers with Chris (I smack my children and I'm fine with it) grayling at the helm. Lots to look forward to.

Earthymama Wed 06-Feb-13 08:33:17

Sparrows12, so true. . .so sad.

Bunty I thought ratios were applied across the whole building?

BuntyPenfold Wed 06-Feb-13 20:38:52

SPBInDisguise yes, that is the whole building; no one else there to cover.

CattyBrown Wed 06-Feb-13 21:23:40

Sometimes I go once of twice out of my break and sometimes, like today, I didn't feel the need to go at all.

Thank you all for the advice.

CattyBrown Wed 06-Feb-13 21:30:25

Also, yes I have had tests as to why I drink alot and there is nothing wrong with me. I tried to cut downon the amount of water I drink, but, I have noticed that I get more frequent headaches. I guess I'm just someone who needs more fluids.

Thanks for everyone who has answered, and for the ones who haven't read my opening post correctly, please read again.

But surely the toilet is in the building! Or am I just being too pedantic? I always assumed staff nipped to the loo etc

RainbowsFriend Wed 06-Feb-13 22:57:11

As a teacher I deliberately reduce my fluid intake so I don;t need to go, as I normally don;t get time at break as I have to deal with pupils/clear up/set up next activity etc - and often at lunch we have meetings or suchlike.

Lots of my colleagues get kidney infections sad

OP - don't do what I do - it's not good for your health!

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