‘Disgustingly dirty’: Female workers lack access to proper toilet facilities

Female workers are forced to use “dirty” toilet facilities and some reveal there are none where they work, an investigation has found.

Research carried out by the Unite union found from a survey of more than 12,000 women that only 14% said they sometimes or occasionally had access to toilets at work.

It said 1% of respondents said they never have access to a toilet at work.

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

“I’ve had several urinary infections since starting and have had to take sick days because of them,” one woman told Unite.

“I had the constant urge to walk, which is not good for driving a bus four hours at a time. I think these are caused by not being able to walk when you need to sometimes,” she added .

“Toilets have been broken/unfixed for months and months, leaving inadequate supply with the number of women workers,” said another.

One said: “I work in a male environment and outside the office the toilets are disgusting. I have raised this several times with no success.”

Others said sanitary bins in some facilities “have not been emptied for months or even a year” – and “very rarely have toilet paper and are disgustingly dirty”.

When asked about the cleanliness of the facilities, including hot and cold running water, soap and toilet paper, 17% of respondents said the facilities were occasionally or sometimes up to standard, while 2% said they never have access to clean and hygienic facilities.

Another shared their experience of having to use mostly “closed” public facilities while out on the road that are “disgustingly dirty”.

“I struggle with this and try not to drink fluids for certain tasks,” she added.

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

The lack of accessibility and “toilet dignity” in the workplace is a “national disgrace”, she added.

Unite’s research also found that access to clean and properly stocked toilets was a serious problem for civilian air transport workers, with 27% saying 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 proper toilets in the workplace. This is a very serious industrial problem.”

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