The WaterSaver Faucet Company in Chicago disciplined 19 employees in June for “excessive use” of the bathroom. CNN reports that it wants to limit restroom breaks to six minutes a day because it says employees have been spending too much time in the bathroom, and not enough time on the factory floor.
This action has upset members of the Teamsters Local 743, and they have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Last winter, the company installed a swipe card system outside the bathrooms to monitor how much time the staff spent answering the call of nature. The problem is that, according to the company management, it wasn’t so much a call of nature as it was a call – or several calls – on their cellphone which they had taken with them.
WaterSaver’s human resources department defines excessive use of the bathroom as being “60 minutes or more over the last 10 working days.” In other words, six minutes per day. On the other hand, they will pay workers who don’t use the bathroom at all during the workday an extra dollar a day.
If they manage to hold everything in for a month, they receive a a gift card worth $20. Steve Kersten, WaterSaver’s CEO claims that a few workers have already been rewarded.
Seems that a proportion of the staff are walking around with crossed legs and squeezed cheeks!
Kersten says that the company lost 120 hours of production in May due to extra bathroom visits during non-break times. The company issues a verbal or written warning, and then can suspend or fire workers for excessive use of the bathroom.
He also makes the point that the company gives employees a total of one hour of breaks during the day, which allows them plenty of time to go to bathroom. He adds that, because cell phones are not allowed on the factory floor, the workers take them to the bathroom: “Our supposition is that some of the behavior is related to cellphones and texting… although I have no hard evidence.”
Kersten gave the example of one employee using the bathroom six times in one shift, including two minutes before his morning break.
The company has agreed to meet with the union this Thursday to talk about the minimum wage, sick days allowances – and bathroom breaks.
The union claims that keeping track of bathroom time is an invasion of privacy.
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