Thursday, July 17, 2014

Should you limit bathroom breaks for employees?

Teamsters local 743 has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that an Illinois faucet manufacture unfairly disciplined 19 workers for “excessive use” of washrooms. What’s excessive, according to the company? Sixty minutes over the last 10 days, or a mere six minutes per day. 

The company reports that it had to limit bathroom use because employees were spending too much potty time outside their scheduled breaks. According to CNN, the company claims employees lost 120 hours of lost production per month as a result. The Daily Mail reports that the company supposes that employees are spending the time texting instead of taking care of bathroom business. According to the employees’ union rep:
The company has spreadsheets on every union employee on how long they were in the bathroom. There have been meetings with workers and human resources where the workers had to explain what they were doing in the bathroom.
Take note that this issue was brought to a head by a labor union. Do you know how to keep your workplace union-free? 


Employees don’t organize over issues like wage or benefits. They organize because they don’t feel like they have a voice with management. Maintain channels of communication. Have an open door through which employees can pass to discuss concerns and air grievances. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t implement Orwellian work rules. What are you supposed to do if an employee is spending too much time in the bathroom texting? Discipline that employee for slacking off. Trust me, your other employees will get the message without you having to limit all of their toilet time to six minutes per day. 

For more on workplace bathroom breaks, including how to implement reasonable bathroom rules in your workplace, read When you gotta go, you gotta go: The right to workplace bathroom breaks.