When Your Boss Monitors Your Bathroom Breaks

8438516267_e205c3767c_zVia CNNMoney and a post on my dad’s Facebook wall with the commentary, “Fight for feces freedom! End bathroom surveillance,” (thanks, Dad!), a faucet manufacturing company called WaterSaver has limited employee bathroom time to six minutes a day, a move that, if the Teamsters have anything to say about it, will get them in trouble with the Labor Relations Board.

Six minutes a day. Could you do it?

The system was put in place after they suspected workers to be hanging out in bathrooms staring at their cellphones, which are banned on the factory floor. When you have to go to the bathroom outside of break time at WaterSaver, you have to swipe in and out. Once you pass your allotted time (60 minutes over 10 working days), the company takes disciplinary measures for “excessive bathroom usage.”

The union said monitoring bathroom time is an invasion of privacy.

“The company has spreadsheets on every union employee on how long they were in the bathroom,” said Nick Kreitman, the union representative at WaterSavers. “There have been meetings with workers and human resources where the workers had to explain what they were doing in the bathroom,” he said.

It’s unreasonable given that the human body can’t always perform on cue, Kreitman said. Besides, he pointed out that the company’s 140 workers don’t have paid sick days. Workers who can’t afford to lose a day’s pay come into work sick, and may end up using bathrooms more, he said.

If it’s a genuine issue — and I can imagine wanting to hide out in the bathroom and read the internet for hours if I worked at a faucet manufacturing company, too, so maybe it is — one would hope they could handle it on a case-by-case basis and maybe save this most invasive and condescending interrogation for the people who are truly abusing the, uh, PRIVILEGE of going to the bathroom.

Or barring that, um, gift cards?

To recoup lost hours, WaterSaver has adopted a rewards system where workers can earn a gift card of up to $20 each month ($1 a day) if they don’t use the bathroom at all during work time. CEO Kersten said a few workers have already earned them.

I really want to know where the gift cards can be redeemed, if only to nail the lid on this coffin of sadness.

Photo via voteprime


15 Comments / Post A Comment

aetataureate (#1,310)

Oh my god, rewarding people for not going to the bathroom all day. If we’re not knocking on the door of Peak Capitalism here I don’t know when we will be.

samburger (#5,489)

@aetataureate I was debating between “eat the rich” and “#peakcapitalism”! I’m glad you covered the other base.

(also #peakdad because DADS)

ragazza (#4,025)

@aetataureate And then they’ll get fired when they have to go to the doctor to treat a bladder infection from holding it in for eight hours.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@ragazza We’re trying to reduce oxygen usage. Twice an hour, could you hold your breath for a minute? We’ll reward you. Here’s your spreadsheet.

samburger (#5,489)

“excessive bathroom usage”


aetataureate (#1,310)

@samburger Poop them out in six minutes or less.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@samburger Oops, also just noticed that the company is WATERSAVER too because of course

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

There’s a clarification that employees also get their mandated 30-min lunch time and two 15-min breaks during which they can also use the bathroom. That doesn’t excuse spreadsheets, though, because EEEEWWW.

Allison (#4,509)

@HelloTheFuture that’s great but let me tell you about how if you’re supposed to eat and drink in those 15/30 minutes, that’s not when I usually need to hit the bathroom.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Allison Oh no, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day on two bathroom breaks and a lunch break either!

jquick (#3,730)

With so many people with their head down looking at a device nowadays, I suspect hanging in the bathroom has been a real issue. They should instead use technology and block/scramble the internet inside the building. Wonder how they handle smokers?

sariberry (#4,420)

I’ve heard about sweatshop conditions where workers have to wear diapers so that they won’t take time off to use the bathroom. Seems like the next logical step when you’re being this vigilant about your employees’ bathroom use.

I agree with jquick above that scrambling/blocking the internet inside the building would be the best solution.

Lily Rowan (#70)

This NOT AT ALL THE POINT, but I was just thinking about how I almost never went to the bathroom during school. Because I wasn’t drinking anything, either! I had a glass of something to drink at each meal, and that was more or less it. I don’t think everyone was dehydrated all the time back then, were we?

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

That’s ridiculous. I think it would be fair to limit recommended time for individual breaks if you don’t have a medical need – like if you’re taking 15-20 minute bathroom breaks at least once a day, that’s a little ridiculous, and indicates either a medical issue or perhaps the need for a dietary change. (If you don’t just make it “recommended: be back at work in X minutes,” though, then for one thing you’re treating your workers like children, and for another, you deserve all the poop stories you hear when people tell you why they weren’t back in time.) But I think six minutes PER break is a bit draconian…six minutes a DAY?

Good lord, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Forget the NLRB, there has to be an ADA issue here too. I mean, there are SO MANY reasons someone might need to visit the bathroom more than that, and taking disciplinary action against someone for any one of those seems like a super awesome way to get sued.

Also, I’m pretty sure there’s a white paper floating around somewhere out there about labor practices surrounding break availability and urinary health/infection, particularly in women. I’m 99% sure I actually saw that, and am not just making it up.

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