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Being charged for drinks, even water, at work

(29 Posts)
SagaciousCloud Wed 06-Jul-11 16:19:26

My DS has recently been taken on for a weeks trial at a telephone sales business.

He came home from work yesterday, having had nothing to drink all day. This was because he had no money and the only drinking water available was from a vending machine, and cost 5p per cup. They didn't even have drinking water in the toilets.

I was absolutely flabergasted when he told me. Is this even remotely legal?

SenoritaViva Wed 06-Jul-11 16:21:17

That sounds ridiculous, don't know about legalities but it probably is. Hope you sent him in with a big bottle of tap water this morning.

bellavita Wed 06-Jul-11 16:23:42

Lots of places have vending machines only where you have to pay to get a drink, I don't see a problem with it.

How old is your DS? Is he not big enough and old enough to ask someone if they can lend him 5p?

Is he your PFB by any chance? grin

wellwisher Wed 06-Jul-11 16:25:54

They didn't have taps in the toilets? confused

DaisySteiner Wed 06-Jul-11 16:27:20

It is a legal requirement for employers to provide drinking water see here, although it doesn't expressly say that it must be free.

Going to work with no money whatsoever is a bit silly though <says she who had to borrow 40p for the car park yesterday blush>

bellavita Wed 06-Jul-11 16:27:31

In fact, rule number 1, always ask at interview stage if there

a) is a kitty to buy tea/coffee/squash
b) do you need to bring your own

nickelbabe Wed 06-Jul-11 16:28:07

the HSE says yes they do have to provide it.

nickelbabe Wed 06-Jul-11 16:29:29

"it is easily accessible by all employees;" i would say that this clause means it should be free, because otherwise it wouldn't be easily accessible to those without money.

MindyMacready Wed 06-Jul-11 16:30:52

They have to provide it, it doesn't have to be free.

SagaciousCloud Wed 06-Jul-11 17:13:39

He 26, left home years ago. He was made redundant 15 months ago, and has no money.
Job centre told him he had to take this job. To get there he has to cycle for 1 hour, then get a 30 minute lift to work (and pay petrol money), work 9 hours doing telesales with 3 breaks, 2 for 15 mins, 1 for 30 mins. Then 30 minutes lift, then 1 hours cycling to get home. He doesn't have any money for lunch or for 5p cups of water. And he will not be any better off than on JSA.
Yes he's my PFB, and I could weep for him. sad

SagaciousCloud Wed 06-Jul-11 17:17:56

Just to add, they don't have any cold taps on the toilets. Only scalding hot.

EssentialFattyAcid Wed 06-Jul-11 17:18:06

Could he take a bottle of water to work with him along with his lunch?

i expect that from this job better jobs will come smile. Surely its better than not having a job?

SagaciousCloud Wed 06-Jul-11 18:23:02

Yes I suggested taking a bottle with him (after we found out that water wasn't free). I had no idea that any company would think it was OK to charge for drinking water, neither did he, nor any member of our family.

To be honest I don't think that anything will come of this weeks trial. They have a dreadful reputation. DS recons that their staff turnover must be horrendous as everyone except the superviser has been there for less than 6 months, and its not a new company.

It difficult to say whether this is better than having no job. When you have to cycle for 2 hours a day and pay someone else petrol money, you won't be any better off and you have to try and sell stuff no-one wants over the phone, I wonder.

DS says he would rather clean toilets. Unfortunately there aren't any toilet cleans jobs going either.

SardineQueen Wed 06-Jul-11 19:52:55

That is a really shitty employer. Not providing free water for employees to drink is really crap. It's not as if tap water costs a lot, is it.

forkful Thu 07-Jul-11 12:46:31

OP - how is he not better off than JSA. Genuinely interested.

JSA = £67.50/week. National Minimum Wage = £5.93.

How may hours is he doing and how much is the petrol money?

What tax code is he on? Is too much tax being deducted at present?

SagaciousCloud Thu 07-Jul-11 12:55:00

Can't answer with any details, because I don't know them. He has worked it out and says he won't be any better off.

I image that what he means is that he will get more money but expenses such as petrol money and extra food (he will have to eat more to fuel his 2 hour bike riding per day) will mean that he will just about break even.

nickelbabe Thu 07-Jul-11 12:55:54

forkful - because if he's living on his own, being on JSA, he gets his rent and council tax paid for.
which is a huge whack.

plus, he has to pay for that petrol contribution.

TheFantasticFixit Thu 07-Jul-11 13:03:37

OP - I'm sorry but I don't believe this - how would they have only scalding hot water in the loos? It would make it impossible to wash your hands and be a safety risk. I fear that he is pulling on your heart strings here; perhaps for you to lend him some money?

I do have enormous sympathy for him having to go through redundancy - getting back on your feet after s a bloody nightmare, I know (and I do, really - I've been there). As gruelling as his journey appears I have travelled much longer via a number of buses and trains to get to a job and at great cost to myself. I just hope that this is springboard for him to move on to better opportunities - but I would be very, very surprised if his account of his workplace is quite as he says....

HerRoyalNotness Thu 07-Jul-11 13:08:46

I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't as he says. Many toilet facilities have tap water that is not safe for drinking.

forkful Thu 07-Jul-11 13:15:40

OP - I am just interested as I am aware of the "benefits trap" and that minimum wage jobs can lead to situations where not much more than JSA is being paid.

However - it sounds like he is living with you so was just receiving basic JSA?

How many hours is he doing/week? 40 hours/week (8/day)?

40 * 52 * £5.93 = £12,334.40

Using a salary calculator.

Take home pay/week will be £206.72. So £139.22 better off. So he'd need to be spending at least £27.84 per day on petrol and food to be worse off?

A 60 minute car journey must be a max of 60 miles and if he shares with one driver may be paying them 50% * 45p * 5 * 60 miles = £67.50.

So that would mean better off by £71.72/day = £14.34 per day.

JSA is there as a safety net - not so that people can say that they are "only" working for £14 per day.

Is there really no other way for him to get to the job?

<Hope you don't take offence OP - I am interested in these types of calcs and especially when people say they are hardly better off by working...>

bullet234 Thu 07-Jul-11 13:21:50

"how would they have only scalding hot water in the loos"

Quite easily. I've been in public toilets where the only option has been a hot tap, with a warning that it was very hot. Which was fun trying to wash Ds1's hands (he can turn on the taps but was too short to reach them) in the three seconds before the water went nuclear hmm.

bullet234 Thu 07-Jul-11 13:23:35

And the OP does say her ds "left home years ago."

ThatsWhatSheSaid Thu 07-Jul-11 15:31:26

Housing Benefit will only cover the equivalent of rent charged for a room in a shared house if you're single and under 25 (soon to be under 35 if it hasn't changed already) so any shortfall would have to be met from other benefits/wages.

If he's doing a week trial he should be getting be able to claim his travel expenses. Trouble is there is no funding left for any of these kinds of extras. You're villified for being out of work but there's little support/funding available to help people back into work - also the lack of permanent jobs with regular hours doesn't help.

SagaciousCloud Thu 07-Jul-11 18:16:42

DS doesn't live with me.

I can't answer in detail because I don't know the details of how much it costs him to live. What I do know is that he has been living on JSA and HB for nearly 18 months. What I do know is that he is so desperate to work that he is cycling (yes CYCLING on a push bike) for 2 hours a day, then getting a lift. To do a job that he hates and for an employer that thinks its OK to charge for drinking water. All this and no guarantee of a job at the end of the week.

I think he's a hero, and you think he's tying to me, thanks TheFantasticFixit

EssentialFattyAcid Fri 08-Jul-11 10:58:57

Its simply not heroic to work for a living rather than take JSA.
2 hours of cycling a day has its upside - he will be fit - lots of folk spend 2 hours in the gym at great expense to do that.

In all honesty a commute of 3 hours is long but many people do it. Presumably your son could move to be nearer jobs or to an area with more employment?

The job sounds pretty awful, but imo it is just immoral to take JSA if you have a job - even if you wish it were a better job.

I understand that you want more for your son but telling him he is a hero to do this job does him no favours imo.

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