Toilet facility regulations

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Denise Ham
Member - 43 posts
22 Dec 2009 10:33AM

3 illegal immigrants who were working as cleaners were arrested in November at Kingston hospital. It was on channel 4 news if you want to check their website!

Mark Tucker
Member - 61 posts
22 Dec 2009 9:49AM

The comment that opposite sex cleaners in toilets may be illegal immigrants with unrestricted access is concening.

Is there any reason for such a statement?

Denise Ham
Member - 43 posts
20 Dec 2009 7:08PM

Re Jane Smith-female barmaid asked to check Gents toilets every 30 mins during opening hours

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) includes provisions in the form of General Occupational Qualifications (GOQ) that permit employers to restrict a job or duties entailed with that job on the grounds of decency or privacy with respect to gender when the employee is likely to work in the presence of the opposite sex who are undressed or are using toilet or washing facilities (Privacy & Dignity 7 (2) (b) (ii). There is also a duty to prevent psychological and physical harm which is inherent in this situation and is a potential infringement of articles 3 & 8 of the Human Rights Act (1998, 2000). Whilst GOQ's are being challenged, this is one of the few remaining exceptions to the sex discrimination Act where, for reasons of privacy and decency, it is reasonable for people to object to an opposite sex worker without being accused of discrimination. It is clearly entirely inappropriate to ask a female member of staff to regularly enter gents toilets (unless these are fully enclosed cubicles opening on to a unisex area) while men are using them. This would not constitute good practice and shows disrespect for users and is exploitive of low paid workers. Punters would be wise to find another pub where they can have a few beers and relax without having to worry about indecent exposure using the toilets!

As senior nurses and RCN Privacy & Dignity Champions we are
extremely concerned about widespread breeches of the Sex Discrimination Act for service users which are now ocurring as a result of loopholes in the law which mean there are no obligations on an employer to apply a General
Occupational Qualification but there are legal obligations on employers to
ensure equality in recruitment and employment. This has resulted in promotion of the rights of employees (Equality Law) beyond the rights to privacy and
decency of service users in many changing rooms and public conveniences where
opposite sex workers/cleaners (who may be illegal immigrants and are not even
required to be CRB checked) are being given unrestricted access to
facilities (as if they were the same sex) via permanent warning signs which subversively gain implied consent to cover the employer to use an opposite sex worker while the facilities are in use.
There is ample evidence that privacy and dignity is important to people during 'toiletting' both in healthcare where structural changes are taking place to eliminate mixed sex accomodation and toilet and washing facilities, and in schools (see Bog Standard) where many children are put off using toilets due to lack of privacy and cleanliness. Many motorway service stations and department stores are allowing male cleaners free access to female toilets and vice versa using policies which rely on knocking and /or calling out which are haphazard and unreliable with potential to offend public decency. Such policies, which are not robust also discriminate against many people particularly those with hearing impairment who would not hear someone knocking (the elderly), also people with religious beliefs that forbid cross sex observation e.g. Muslims, and many vulnerable people with medical conditions e.g. diabetics who may need to use the area outside of the cubicles for administering prescribed injections and would expect single sex privacy when exposing body areas. In times of paedophilia and increased sexual crimes there are also serious concerns regarding safety and child protection issues if cleaners (who are not even required to be CRB checked) are alone in a single sex toilet enclosure with minors of the opposite sex old enough to go to the toilet by themselves. Whilst the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suggest that good practice would be to display signs giving cleaning times or warning when the cleaner is actually present this is not compulsory and is therefore largely being ignored. Cleaning companies are compromising on privacy and dignity in order to employ only one cleaner per shift instead of two; giving male workers access to female facilities as if they were women and vice versa.
Female cleaners report viewing mens genitals when they walk in to busy male loos where men are using open urinals. This can be very undignified for the men and the cleaner. Many women report being too uncomfortable to use the female facility if they find a male cleaner there use the facility under duress. There are increasing reports of women becoming distraught and intimidated at suddenly finding a man outside when they exit. a cubicle in a multi cubical single sex designated area. In the absence of robust access policies (eg asking an appropriate sex member of staff to check that no one is using the facilities before an opposite sex cleaner enters), this practice causes many people severe discomfort and distress and undermines what nurses are trying to do in promoting awareness of privacy and dignity for all. There appears to be a serious gap in the regulation of cleaning practices which do not appear to be covered by Health and Safety Legislation and over which Environmental Health Officers say they have no power to act. We believe that legal loopholes regarding the GOQ in areas involving privacy and
dignity should be urgently addressed to eliminate these anomalies and
promote safe, ethical practice until existing toilet /washing facilities
undergo structural alterations which allow privacy & dignity for the user
while promoting equality for the worker. This will not happen until some awful crime is committed unless people are aware that it is not discrimination to object and exercise their rights to ask the cleaner to leave.

Sean Scott
Member - 2 posts
9 Dec 2009 1:11PM

Hi, we have a serious problem with graffiti in the male toilet cubicles, the Warehouse Manager has suggested that as a measure to try to prevent the offenders whiling their time away behind a full height door that we shorten the door so that the artists think twice about leaving their mark. My question is that is their any regs on the size of toilet cubicle doors.



David Ransome
Member - 272 posts
20 Nov 2009 8:41AM

Jane, no law just common sense! I would have a read of the message thread above.

Barry Lang
Member - 416 posts
20 Nov 2009 8:23AM


I would guess that the task would need to be risk assessed, but I do not think there is anything in law regarding this.


jane smith
Member - 2 posts
18 Nov 2009 9:01PM

is it within the law for a female bar person to check the mens toilets in the pub during opening hours

jane smith
Member - 2 posts
18 Nov 2009 8:54PM

i am female and i work in a pub and have been told that i have to check the mens toilets every half an hour i dont think this is right and need to know what the law says about it

David Ransome
Member - 272 posts
8 Oct 2009 10:13AM

Hi, my comment was relating to UK but from memory I think it's the same across most of Western Europe and the US, I'm sure that somebody will be able tos ay whether that is the case.

Ian Goodman
Member - 3 posts
8 Oct 2009 7:26AM

does this apply to the UK

David Ransome
Member - 272 posts
7 Oct 2009 8:29AM

No law at all! Although I'm sure that someone reading this may be thinking 'H'm, we hadn't thought about bringing in a law for that!'

Mike's comment on signage is the way it tends to be dealt with in the UK.

Gary N
Member - 45 posts
7 Oct 2009 8:11AM


There are many service areas and shops where I have seen signs informing the customer that a female may be cleaning the gents toilet and I am sure it happens the other way round as well. So I believe that it is not against the law.

mike walsh
Member - 1 post
5 Oct 2009 11:06PM

is it against the law for a man to have to check a womans toliet at work?

c casselton
Member - 0 posts
18 Sep 2009 4:50PM

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Alex Gordon
Member - 136 posts
16 Sep 2009 10:12AM

Belinda, From the short descrition of an office, it is likely that the Local Authority Environmental Health Department will have enforcement responsibility for the regs rather than HSE.

Member - 2 posts
15 Sep 2009 11:14PM


I would get back onto your Line Manager and quote The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Para 20 (see below). If the Management refuse to accommodate get onto your local Inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who will be only too willing to come and inspect your premises!

Re your disabled toilet. There is nothing to stop abled bodied persons from using the facilities so long as it does not inconvenience (no pun intended) disabled colleagues.

Sanitary conveniences

20.—(1) Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences shall be provided at readily accessible places.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), sanitary conveniences shall not be suitable unless—

(a) the rooms containing them are adequately ventilated and lit;

(b) they and the rooms containing them are kept in a clean and orderly condition; and

(c) separate rooms containing conveniences are provided for men and women except where and so far as each convenience is in a separate room the door of which is capable of being secured from inside.

(3) It shall be sufficient compliance with the requirement in paragraph (1) to provide sufficient sanitary conveniences in a workplace which is not a new workplace, a modification, an extension or a conversion and which, immediately before this regulation came into force in respect of it, was subject to the provisions of the Factories Act 1961, if sanitary conveniences are provided in accordance with the provisions of Part II of Schedule 1.

Belinda Garcia
Member - 1 post
14 Sep 2009 5:52PM

I have read most of the comments above I seem to have the same problem as Rachel.

We are 10 in the office (2 women only) with two toilets, one of them serving as disable. However neither of them have windows, air-con or ventilation.

I tried to go Eco on the office by not buying sprays but my bosses insist on buying air spray which even at the back of the bottle says do not use in close spaces!

Could I get the Council in and asked them to write me a letter so they can pay to put air-con or some sort of ventilation?

The facilities have become worst since they all started using both toilets and loads of spray..we can't breath!


Jem Thakk
Member - 1 post
23 Aug 2009 8:52AM

I am opening up a cafe, please can anyone tell me what is the maximum seating i can have without a toliet.

carmen Turcanu
Member - 0 posts
12 Aug 2009 11:58PM

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simon king
Member - 0 posts
12 Aug 2009 11:32AM

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Sheila Jones
Member - 7 posts
9 Aug 2009 8:08PM

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Occupational Health Nurse
Member - 73 posts
30 Jul 2009 2:27PM

OMG Dave! You are extracting the urine?

This is an invasion of privacy and as such needs reporting, not sure who to though! It also doesn't say much for the pub you visit! The beer must be good to suffer being filmed when urinating.

Jane, not that i'm aware, we do have staff toilets as a rule, but there are some which are used both by staff and public. I'm not aware of any issues this causes.

Jane Turner-Gardner
Member - 1 post
30 Jul 2009 11:47AM

Are there any rules governing - Hospital staff and the general public/patients sharing the same toilet facilities?

Dave Wharton
Member - 1 post
30 Jul 2009 9:40AM

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Dave Wharton
Member - 1 post
30 Jul 2009 9:38AM

Wow Toilets - never knew that such a subject could be so popular! Does anybody know the rules governing CCTV in toilets? A pub I visit has a CCTV camera located directly above the trough ( urinals). I understand the need to stop drugs etc., but this seems intrusive.

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