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Rules for Toilets and Washing Facilities

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 8 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Toilets Washing Facilities Welfare

Workers have a right to “welfare facilities”. These include toilets and washbasins. Businesses with one or more staff must have these basic items.

Provisos

There are circumstances when businesses may not have to offer toilets and washing facilities to staff. For example, issues such as physical difficulties, cost, trouble and time may prevent the installation of toilets.

But employers should not regard these provisos as potential excuses. They should make every reasonable effort to have toilets and washbasins on hand, even during a period of short-term work.

The Law

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover the supply of toilets and washing facilities for staff. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a code of practice based on the law that explains the full requirements.

Adequate Facilities

The law states that toilets and washing facilities must be adequate. Because the word “adequate” is open to interpretation, the HSE clarifies what it means:

  • Employers should arrange for separate facilities for men and women. If this isn’t possible, toilets and washing facilities must have locks. These ensure privacy and security.
  • The facilities must be clean and easy to maintain. Walls and floors should be waterproof.
  • Toilets and washing facilities should have both cold and hot running water. They should have soap or a similar cleaning product. And a hot air dryer or paper towels should be available.
  • Washing basins must be a reasonable size. People should be able to wash hands and forearms in them.
  • The toilets should have toilet paper. In the female toilets, there should be a disposal point for sanitary dressings.
  • The facilities must have ventilation and light.

Showers

The term “adequate facilities” also applies to showers. An employer should install a shower if people are engaged in dirty work.

Number of Facilities

The law says that workers should not have to queue for long periods to use toilets and washing facilities. To clarify this point, the HSE quotes minimum toilet numbers per employees.

For women only or for mixed use, there should be 1 toilet and washbasin for 1-5 employees. The number of toilets and washbasins then rises according to the total staff. For example, 25-50 staff should have 3 toilets and 3 washbasins between them. And 76-100 employees should have 5 toilets and 5 washbasins.

For men only, there should be 1 toilet and 1 urinal for 1-15 employees. This rises to 2 toilets and 1 urinal for 16-30 staff, and 4 toilets and 4 urinals for 91-100 staff.

Disabled

Disabled workers require toilets and washing facilities that meet their needs. Large cubicles with supports and low hand basins are essential. Under the law, an employer must provide suitable facilities for disabled staff.

Temporary Sites

Some work sites are temporary. This applies particularly to the building industry.

An employer must provide running water and flushing toilets if it’s reasonable to do so. An employer should not assume workers could use nearby public toilets.

If there’s no running water or plumbing, an employer should consider using chemical toilets. In these circumstances, washing facilities can be water containers.

Drinking Water

Drinking water is a separate issue to the provision of toilets and washing facilities. An employer should give workers access to drinking water from a public source. Failing this, all workers must have access to a bottled water dispenser and cups.

There should always be enough water. Availability must take account of working temperatures and the type of work.

Employers don’t have to put up a sign for drinking water. But if workers are likely to use the water in washing facilities for drinking, an employer should mark it “not for drinking” and “drinking water” as appropriate.

Other Facilities

The law regarding the provision of toilets also covers other welfare facilities. Employers must arrange a seating area, for example, where workers can eat and drink during breaks. The area should be clean and have washing facilities to ensure hygiene. Workers should also be able to heat water and food.

Changing rooms are necessary for work that involves specialist clothing. The changing facilities should be private, have hook or pegs for hanging clothes, and have access to storage and washing. There should also be seats.

Needless to say, men and women should have separate changing facilities.

Nursing Mothers and Pregnant WomenIf possible, an employer should offer a private room for nursing mothers. Pregnant women should have access to a room in which they can rest as necessary.

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[Add a Comment]
At my place of work they have currently disposed of the disposable roll to dry your hands and face after using the toilets and put a hand dryer in but this does not solve drying your face after possible chemicals have been on your face example fibre glass resign dust. They have provided 30 employees with a single towel this to me is a risk of contaminants and could cause serious problems. Am I correct in saying so
No1 - 8-Nov-18 @ 9:35 AM
I work in a unit that is half office and half garage. We have fans in the individual offices to blow heat. The kettle and microwave are in the garage which has no heat and is freezing. The toilet is also in the garage and has no heat. When using the toilet it is also freezing. I have complained. Is there anything I can do?
Loo - 3-Nov-18 @ 1:48 PM
as of nov1 men are expected to bring own mugsto work and wash them in the gents toilets/no hot water is this legal
Porky - 16-Oct-18 @ 3:24 PM
is it legal to wash mugs /cutlery in gents toilets only 1 small wash handbasin provided/no hot water
Porky - 16-Oct-18 @ 3:22 PM
my employer is introducing rules fromnov 1 stating that plastic cups will nolonger be provided for tea/ coffe etc all employees to bring own mug and men are required to wash mugs in gents toilets small hand basin installed. Is this legal
Porky - 16-Oct-18 @ 3:20 PM
I am working in a petrol station that sells freshly cooked food. I am expected to cook the frozen food and clean the toilets with no protective clothing at all. I was also shown how to clean the toilets by the bosses wife and use the same cloth to wipe inside the toilet bowls and then use on the sinks too. I'm sure this is not right. The cleaning fluid is some made up solution with no details on it at all. I'm pretty sure under cosh the cleaning fluid should be described and cleared for use. Anyone help ?
Teresaxx - 14-Oct-18 @ 6:34 PM
I have been transferred to a store in a shopping centre with no washing or toilet facilities. I have been told the shopping centre toilets can been used instead. At times these are being cleaning and I don't have access. I have ulcerative colitis and I need to have a toilet available at an emergency. I have now had to resign from my job as a result.
Jgm - 13-Sep-18 @ 11:25 AM
Toilets out of order at work expect us to use port a loo that is one across probably 100 people on site is this acceptable
Dolly - 11-Sep-18 @ 12:14 PM
I work for a small business, there’s 6-8 males and one female (me) We have two toilets (1 male, 1 female) I had a period of two weeks off, during that time a new female colleague started. Upon my return to work I noticed that the ladies toilet had been left in a grotty state (clearly by the new empolyee, as I hadn’t been there for two weeks) I am not employed as a cleaner for the company, and it doesn’t say in my job description I have to clean toilets, so I refused to clean her mess. About a month after this, the boss has stuck a notice on the door of the ladies toilet (there isn’t one on the men’s door, I checked) that says ‘LADIES. Please leave these facilities as you wish to find them!’ I am fuming, because there was never a concern with the cleanliness of the toilets when I was the only female employee. And sticking a note to the door for all to see is disrespectful. Do I have a leg to stand on, if I bring this up as a grievance to the manager?
Robyn - 10-Sep-18 @ 1:23 PM
Hi, I’m a female cleaner.I’m not comfortable cleaning the men’s toilet when it’s occupied.Is it within my rights to ask no entry while under cleaning process for the following reasons: 1) to do the cleaning properly 2) to prevent slip hazard after mopping (if I mop) 3) I don’t want to accidentally see their private parts while they are using the urinals 4). Also,is unblocking clogged toilets part of the job?What makes it part of the job and what it doesn’t?What certain conditions need to be met to be required and expected to do this kind of job for cleaning attendant.There were times it’s very nasty that an hourly rate will not compensate the job to do it. PHS which handled the biohazard waste compensated handsomely (maybe), how much more unblocking feces filled toilet.It’s degrading and derogatory, especially it’s not stipulated and not monetarily compensated for.They expect its part of the cleaner’s job, just because of the “c At the moment I’m the one adjusted to this situation by not entering myself when it’s occupied (I waited for them to leave).I omitted to mop because they don’t respect no entry signs and I see it as a potential hazard.As a result I got complaints that I wasn’t doing my job. I’m not sure if my principles have some law basis as such for me to do the job properly up to the standards the employer must provide or meet adequate resources and conditions such as enough time to carry the tasks and no entry period. Also, what to read to know my employee rights as a cleaner.I find employer took advantage of us and making us do beyond what’s legally right to keep their contracts at our expense. I cannot thank you enough for your legal advise.
Tintin - 7-Sep-18 @ 8:59 AM
At a work place should you the same toilet brush in the mens and womens toilet my boss says its ok but i thought it would b cross cintamination is this right r wrong
Ali - 7-Sep-18 @ 8:09 AM
Hi, I’m a female cleaner.I’m not comfortable cleaning the men’s toilet when it’s occupied.Is it within my rights to ask no entry while under cleaning process for the following reasons: 1) to do the cleaning properly 2) to prevent slip hazard after mopping (if I mop) 3) I don’t want to accidentally see their private parts while they are using the urinals 4). Also,is unblocking clogged toilets part of the job?What makes it part of the job and what it doesn’t?What certain conditions need to be met to be required and expected to do this kind of job for cleaning attendant.There were times it’s very nasty that an hourly rate will not compensate the job to do it. PHS which handled the biohazard waste compensated handsomely (maybe), how much more unblocking feces filled toilet.It’s degrading and derogatory, especially it’s not stipulated and not monetarily compensated for.They expect its part of the cleaner’s job, just because of the “c At the moment I’m the one adjusted to this situation by not entering myself when it’s occupied (I waited for them to leave).I omitted to mop because they don’t respect no entry signs and I see it as a potential hazard.As a result I got complaints that I wasn’t doing my job. I’m not sure if my principles have some law basis as such for me to do the job properly up to the standards the employer must provide or meet adequate resources and conditions such as enough time to carry the tasks and no entry period. Also, what to read to know my employee rights as a cleaner.I find employer took advantage of us and making us do beyond what’s legally right to keep their contracts at our expense. I cannot thank you enough for your legal advise.
Tintin - 6-Sep-18 @ 6:56 PM
i work in the nhs we had a toilet which we used out of hours , it is not being clean regularly ,someone has been leaving it in a mess . we have been told we cant use it now its only for office staff , there is a toilet in a workshop no ventilation we have been told to use that , I don't think it is right for office staff to have use of the toilet
andy66 - 5-Sep-18 @ 6:46 AM
C*** - Your Question:
My employer has provided us with 1 toilet and a shower in the same room. So if I'm taking a shower no one can use the toilet is this fair?? Also a notice on the board states anyone caught deficating outside will be disciplined, but if someone is using the shower where are you meant to go toilet????

Our Response:
You would have to take this issue up directly with your employer.
WelfareAtWork - 4-Sep-18 @ 10:40 AM
My employer has provided us with 1 toilet and a shower in the same room. So if I'm taking a shower no one can use the toilet is this fair?? Also a notice on the board states anyone caught deficating outside will be disciplined, but if someone is using the shower where are you meant to go toilet????
C*** - 30-Aug-18 @ 6:58 PM
My company has just moved premises and our changing / toilet facilities are rolled into one , lockers ,seating ,sink ,toilet, shower and urinals in one room . This was originally just a toilet, when you sit down to get changed you're either 1foot away from the sink or 1foot away from a urinal and there is very little space for anyone to get changed . Is this acceptable or not , any help / advice is welcome.
Space man - 15-Aug-18 @ 8:53 AM
I wanted to find out the policies on the office locking the disabled toilets. We do not have any disabled staff member but we see disabled applicants(customers/patients). And they have put a note on the toilets saying if they need to use the disabled toilets to ask security for the key, but some people can not wait long enough for the key to be brought up and the door opened. What are your thoughts?
SJB - 7-Aug-18 @ 12:27 PM
@Stiv - if it's not in your contract then you don't have to. But if you're on a zero hour contract and you have been there less than two years you can be dismissed and you can't claim for unfair dismissal. On the other hand your employer cannot prevent you from using the loo as your employer has a duty of care. Read your contract and give Acas a call.
HaL - 3-Aug-18 @ 12:53 PM
Vivienne - Your Question:
I work in a small office (14 members of staff) where we have separate toilets for men and women however the male boss seems to think it is acceptable for him to use the women's toilet whenever he wants as the men's toilet is on a different floor to the floor he works on. There are 10 female members of staff and 4 male. The women's toilet has 2 cubicles and the men's toilet has 1. The boss is the only male member of staff who uses the women's toilet as it is clearly marked on the outside door "Ladies". The toilets are not unisex. As a female employee what rights (if any) do I have to expect to be able to use a women's only toilet?

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing. Please see the link here.
WelfareAtWork - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:20 AM
I work alongside 9 other blokes in a small workshop. Our designated cleaner left just last week and as a result the 10 of us have all been been asked to clean the toilet and canteen on a daily basis. Only I refused(rightly or wrongly) but as a result of my refusal I was told by my supervisor that I couldn't use the toilet !!!Now I know that this sounds absolutely absurd but because I kept refusing to clean the toilet i kept getting told i wouldnt be allowed to use it. My question isdo we have to clean the toiletand no there is nothing in my Zero hour contract to say we have to clean the toilets. Help
Stiv - 2-Aug-18 @ 5:05 PM
I work in a small office (14 members of staff) where we have separate toilets for men and women however the male boss seems to think it is acceptable for him to use the women's toilet whenever he wants as the men's toilet is on a different floor to the floor he works on.There are 10 female members of staff and 4 male.The women's toilet has 2 cubicles and the men's toilet has 1.The boss is the only male member of staff who uses the women's toilet as it is clearly marked on the outside door "Ladies".The toilets are not unisex.As a female employee what rights (if any) do I have to expect to be able to use a women's only toilet?
Vivienne - 2-Aug-18 @ 11:13 AM
Work in a large garden centre with approximately 40 staff.. Should we have separate toilet facilities to the general public.
Badger - 28-Jul-18 @ 11:09 AM
I have to travel 1 hour to run an outreach session at a local council contact centre.I have to stop there for 3 hours and am instructed not to leave until the 3 hours have expired.I do this for 3 days a week. I sit in a public area and have no access to any toilet, so I have to hold the sensation best I can.I am unable to use the staff toilet despite having a radar key and a card, showing the need for a toilet due to disability. Even a basic need to use a toilet is being denied and as a result I have to wear pad underwear and have had to sit in these for several hours, whilst there is excrement and urine burning into me. I have raised this with my employer under reasonable adjustments several times.December 2016, several times in 2017 and more recently in a grievance in March 2018.My employers have been aware of my disability since I started in 2013. Since my grievance, my area manager has been working with me to identify which outreaches I should stop going to.However, despite there being no cost implication and no affect to service delivery, they are still expecting me to attend these outreaches that have no facilities. An occupational health report recommended that these outreaches be closed on 22 June 2018 but my area manager states that I have to wait for another meeting in 3 weeks time so both my managers can agree if they should close my outreach sessions at this location. My colleagues, who do not have a medical condition are allowed to close an outreach that has a zero or poor footfall almost immediately, yet I m not allowed and have now been waiting over year to close them and over a month since my occupational report recommendations. Where do I stand legally and what laws/legislation are they breaching under Health and Safety or Disability Rights. Your advice would be most welcome.
Cap68 - 25-Jul-18 @ 5:49 PM
What is the legal limit that a toilet should be placed opposite a work station ? Very frustrating that a disabled toilet is being used by everyone and placed opposite my work station.
k - 23-Jul-18 @ 10:45 AM
Lindz - Your Question:
Some one took a video of another guy masturbating in the toilets at work because he heard funny sounds, is masturbating in work toilets correct? and was this other one right in taking a video and should he be fired for doing this?

Our Response:
The matter should be reported to your line manager and your line manager/employer will investigate.
WelfareAtWork - 20-Jul-18 @ 10:21 AM
@Fifer - you can refuse if it's not part of the terms and conditions of your contract.
Ade - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:24 PM
Some one took a video of another guy masturbating in the toilets at work because he heard funny sounds, is masturbating in work toilets correct? and was this other one right in taking a video and should he be fired for doing this?
Lindz - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:28 AM
Our work place toilets are filthy and never cleaned who is responsible for cleaning complained to manager and he expected us to clean them
Fifer - 17-Jul-18 @ 11:37 AM
F1 fan - Your Question:
We had an existing work toilet (interior walls) that had an extractor fitted altered nearly two years ago. The door had to be moved and now there is no extractor fan at all. Is that illegal, it’s not pleasant in there sometimes.Who do I report it to, boss doesn’t seem to be bothered.

Our Response:
It is likely that building regs will insist on appropriate ventilation before a completion certificate is issued. If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here . In the first place, you may wish to speak with you boss again stating this will be the only alternative if the issue is not dealt with.
WelfareAtWork - 16-Jul-18 @ 10:49 AM
We had an existing work toilet (interior walls) that had an extractor fitted altered nearly two years ago.. The door had to be moved and now there is no extractor fan at all. Is that illegal, it’s not pleasant in there sometimes. Who do I report it to, boss doesn’t seem to be bothered.
F1 fan - 15-Jul-18 @ 1:04 PM
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