Women workers struggling to access toilet facilities, says union

Women workers are struggling to access toilets, with some revealing there are no toilets where they work, research suggests.

A survey of more than 12,000 women by the Unite union showed that 14% said they only sometimes or occasionally have access to toilets at work.

Unite said 1% of respondents said they never have access to a toilet in the workplace.

The union said it was building on the survey to identify employers who are failing in their legal duty to provide clean and accessible toilets and will hold them to account.

Asked whether toilets were clean, with hot and cold running water, soap and toilet paper, 17% said occasionally or sometimes and 2% said never.

Nearly half of female bus workers reported only sometimes or occasionally having access to a toilet.

Access to clean and properly stocked toilets was a serious issue for civil air transport workers as well, with 27% reporting they only sometimes or occasionally have access to them.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that so many female workers still do not have decent toilets within the workplace. This is a very serious industrial issue.”

Unite national equalities officer Alison Spenser-Scragg said: “It is a legal requirement for employers to provide accessible and clean toilets, including sanitary bins, yet this survey shows that many are in contravention of the law.

“The fact that so many women are being left without toilet dignity at work is a national disgrace. Unite will challenge it in every workplace it is found to be occurring.”

Responses to the survey included:

“I have had multiple urine infections since starting and have had to take sick days because of them. I had the constant urge to go which is not good for driving buses four hours at a time. I believe these have been caused by not being able to go when you need to sometimes.”

“I mostly use public facilities as out on the road there are very few of them and more often than not they are closed. Very rarely do they have toilet paper and are disgustingly filthy. I struggle with this and try not to drink any fluids on certain duties.”

“For people with certain conditions there are not always enough accessible facilities available near our work and restroom areas. Sanitary bins in some of the facilities have not been emptied for months or even a year.”

“Toilets have been left broken/unfixed for months and months leaving inadequate provision for the number of female workers.”

“I work in a male environment and out of office the toilets are disgusting. I have raised this several times to no avail.”