Toilet dignity, like pay, terms and conditions, is an industrial issue for Unite
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Unite Press Release


For immediate release: Monday 27 November 2023


Unite survey of over 12,000 women shows female workers still struggling for access to clean toilets


Toilet dignity, like pay, terms and conditions, is an industrial issue for Unite


Women workers are still struggling for access to toilets a major new survey by Unite, the UK’s leading union, has revealed.


More than 12,000 women responded to the survey, which revealed that 14 per cent only sometimes or occasionally have access to toilets at work. One per cent said they never have access to a toilet in the workplace. 

(See notes to editors for a representative sample of the more than 3,000, often shocking, anonymised comments submitted by respondents).


Unite is building on the survey to identify specific employers who are failing in their legal duty to provide clean and accessible toilets and hold them to account.


Asked about whether toilets are clean with hot and cold running water, soap and toilet paper, 17 per cent said occasionally or sometimes and two per cent said never.


Nearly half of female bus workers (44 per cent) reported only sometimes or occasionally having access to a toilet. Four per cent said they never have access to a toilet. Just under half of female bus drivers (40 per cent) also reported that the toilets they have access to are sometimes or occasionally clean with hot and cold water, soap and toilet paper. Five per cent said they never have access to such toilets.  


Access to clean and properly stocked toilets was a serious issue for civil air transport workers as well, with 27 per cent reporting they only sometimes or occasionally have access to them. Four per cent said they never do.  


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that so many female workers still do not have decent toilets within the workplace. This is a very serious industrial issue.”


Unite national equalities officer Alison Spenser-Scragg said: “It is a legal requirement for employers to provide accessible and clean toilets, including sanitary bins, yet this survey shows that many are in contravention of the law. The fact that so many women are being left without toilet dignity at work is a national disgrace. Unite will challenge it in every workplace it is found to be occurring.”  




Notes to editors:


“I have had multiple urine infections since starting and have had to take sick days because of them. I had the constant urge to go which is not good for driving buses four hours at a time. I believe these have been caused by not being able to go when you need to sometimes.”


“I mostly use public facilities as out on the road there are very few of them and more often than not they are closed. Very rarely do they have toilet paper and are disgustingly filthy. I struggle with this and try not to drink any fluids on certain duties.”


“For people with certain conditions there are not always enough accessible facilities available near our work and restroom areas. Sanitary bins in some of the facilities have not been emptied for months or even a year.”


“Toilets have been left broken/unfixed for months and months leaving inadequate provision for the number of female workers."


“I work in a male environment and out of office the toilets are disgusting. I have raised this several times to no avail.”


“I have to use shared toilets most of the time. These are very frequently smelly with pee all over seats and sometimes floor and rarely cleaned if at all. There are no sanitary products or bins available.”


“I was using toilet frequently and for a bit longer than usual, I have PCOS (was undiagnosed at the time) so my periods are very heavy. Manager pulled me aside to ask why I was spending so much time in the toilet. It was quite embarrassing to be asked and made me feel like they're keeping track of toilet breaks.”


“I am a carer that works out the community so having a toilet break is unlikely. Carers don't have a place for break times - no facilities at all.”


“Due to cancer around eight years ago, I have ongoing problems with toilet issues. I was in an office in my area but they took that office away. Now I have nowhere to go when I’m working in my area. Sometimes I just need to go to the toilet as I cannot wait due to my operation and issues. It sometimes ends up that I have an accident and must go home which is a 10-minute drive to my house and have a shower and change. This can happen up to at least three times a week."


For media enquires ONLY contact senior Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215 or 020 3371 2065. 




Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.

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