Employment News

News added on 18.11.2019


Health and safety

Toilet standards down the drain?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has written to all its staff about a number of incidents of bad behaviour at its London headquarters, including workers defecating and urinating on the toilet floors and leaving alcohol bottles in sanitary bins. How far can you go in making sure your staff are toilet trained?

In the note published on its internal website, the FCA makes clear that such unpleasant behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by senior management, and it blames the incidents on a minority of workers.

If you’re also having issues with staff failing to keep your toilet and washroom facilities clean and tidy, even if your issues aren’t quite as extreme as those at the FCA, it’s entirely acceptable to send a memo to everyone, e.g. by e-mail, including a list of basic rules about toilet cleanliness and reminding staff that it’s their responsibility to keep your facilities clean and tidy when they use them; this isn’t just down to your cleaning staff.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that you must provide “suitable and sufficient” sanitary conveniences and washing facilities which, along with the rooms containing them, must be kept in a “clean and orderly condition”. You also need to provide a supply of clean hot and cold (or warm) water, soap (or other suitable means of cleaning) and towels (or other suitable means of drying) and the rooms need to be adequately ventilated and lit. As such, it’s important that you keep a close eye on the state of your toilets. Whilst you might have them cleaned daily, between cleans they can often get into a filthy and untidy state, particularly if they’re subject to heavy use. As you still need to ensure that you’re complying with the requirements of the Regulations, this means not allowing the facilities to get dirty or messy and ensuring soap, toilet roll and other essentials are replenished when they run out. In addition, if your clients or customers also use those toilets, it’s not going to reflect well on your business for them to find rubbish all over the floor, open sanitary bins, dirty toilets and no toilet roll or hand towels. Your memo could therefore include rules covering:

  • the correct disposal of sanitary and other non-toilet paper products
  • proper use of the toilet
  • the removal of rubbish
  • the replacement of finished toilet rolls, liquid soap and paper hand towels
  • proper hand washing requirements
  • maintenance of the sink basin areas in a clean and dry condition
  • how to report any problems, e.g. if toilets, toilet door locks, taps, lights or hand dryers aren’t working properly.

It’s also worth carrying out your own check at least once a day, and in advance of important client or customer visits. That way, you can spot regular problems, and tackle the culprit(s) if you can work out who they are. Finally, add a sentence to your memo confirming that any employee caught wilfully misusing or abusing the toilet and washroom facilities will be subject to disciplinary action. You can institute disciplinary proceedings where an employee has left your facilities in a clearly appalling state. Serious damage to company property may justify summary dismissal for gross misconduct.

You are entitled to remind staff of the need to keep your toilet and washroom facilities clean and tidy when they use them and that it’s not down to your cleaning staff to mop up after them. One useful way to do this is to set out a list of basic rules covering health and hygiene standards and proper use of the facilities.

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