It's not something that people talk about often because of what it involves, but going to the bathroom is an important daily ritual. However, not everyone gets to do that while at work. It turns out that bathroom breaks at work aren't actually something you're legally obligated to get in Canada.

According to the Canadian Labour Code, all workers are entitled to an unpaid 30-minute break after working for five consecutive hours, but that is for meals, not bathroom breaks.

Trips to the bathroom aren't addressed in provincial labour laws either.

"It's left to the common sense and reasonableness of the employer and in most cases, you would hope that common sense and basic dignity would win out," said Paul Champ, Ottawa-based labour and human rights lawyer, to CTV News.

While some employers don't worry about bathroom breaks, that's not the case for all of them.

This is being brought to the forefront recently because of disputes between employers and unions in Hamilton, Ottawa and Vancouver when it comes to bathroom breaks and working conditions.

In the case of bus drivers, tight scheduling doesn't give them time to go to the bathroom, and other industries like trucking or ones where a single pause can delay an entire day are the same.

Not having employers be legally obligated to give employees bathroom breaks doesn't sit well with some Canadians on Twitter.

One person said, "try and stop us. I dare you."

Others had some creative alternatives to bathroom breaks like "all these workers should wear diapers and deposit the used diapers in the corporate boardrooms."

Sometimes a doctor's note can take care of a problem between an employer and a worker when it comes to bathroom breaks if there's a medical reason.

Champ said that if an employee is being refused a bathroom break and there's no medical requirement, they'll have to take on their employer directly or have their union do it if they have one. 

The bathroom break has long been under fire and people have been talking about it for years.

In an Ontario Reddit post from two years ago, one person said that their employer was threatening to time their bathroom breaks, three over an eight hour day, and dock their pay.

Also, in the U.K., a startup company actually created a toilet that slopes forward to a certain degree that makes sitting on it for more than five minutes unbearable. 

While there are no laws about letting people take bathroom breaks, there is a law in Canada that says how many bathrooms an employer needs to provide.

So they have to have them, even if they aren't required to let you use them. 


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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