Wales politics

Toilet breaks are a worker's right, minister tells MPs

toilets direction sign
Image caption Trade unions have called for a change in the law to stop pay deductions for comfort breaks

Workers have a right to toilet breaks, a UK government minister has confirmed, after a Welsh MP raised the case of a man who had his pay docked.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said firms could be breaking the law if they made deductions from salaries for visits to the toilet.

She said people who lost money could call a helpline for advice.

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon has told MPs a local call centre worker was docked £50 for taking toilet breaks.

'Toilet tax'

Raising the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday, Ms Moon told MPs the man had been sent a text message on his phone telling him there were deductions in his salary.

She said: "He was not told what the deductions were for. When he inquired he was told it was toilet breaks. The company tells me they make ad hoc deductions for breaks away from the work station."

Image caption Firms could be breaking the law if they docked pay, says Jo Swinson

In response, Ms Swinson said: "Workers have a right to rest breaks, which they do have a requirement for under law and indeed if deductions are made from pay they have to be very clearly outlined, and indeed if they take somebody below the national minimum wage, then the employer could find themselves in breach of that law."

She advised people who had deductions made to seek advice from the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 9172368.

However, the TUC has called for the law to be changed to make it clear that workers should not have pay deducted for toilet breaks.

Ms Moon had previously told MPs that her constituent had lost £50 from his pay over the issue, claiming he had suffered a "toilet tax".

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