In Hamilton, Ont., the union representing bus drivers reached a last-minute cope with town on Wednesday to narrowly keep away from a strike.

A week earlier, Ottawa’s bus service got here beneath hearth when one in every of their drivers wrote a scathing open letter regarding his working situations.

Last month, a bus drivers’ union in Vancouver averted a strike by coming to an settlement with town.

In all of these circumstances, the problem of bathroom breaks was a major concern for bus drivers who work lengthy hours on tight schedules with few alternatives for bathroom breaks.

Bus drivers aren’t alone, both.

For workers in different industries, corresponding to trucking, meals manufacturing, or auto components meeting, the place an abrupt pause can delay the whole operation, bathroom breaks generally is a level of competition between employers and workers.

In the case of the Ottawa bus operator, Chris Grover, he wrote in his open letter to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper that OC Transpo drivers have just about no time between runs and generally don’t even get a minute for a bathroom break.

“I have personally worked a ten-hour shift where the longest break on paper was 5 minutes, and I was 29 minutes late after my second trip,” he wrote.

And whereas Grover is a member of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 279, which is advocating for his and his colleagues’ rights, different non-unionized workers in Canada have little recourse in the event that they’re penalized for taking too lengthy or too many bathroom breaks within the office.

That’s as a result of there aren’t any statutes in any jurisdiction in Canada that deal immediately with bathroom breaks or unscheduled private breaks.

Under the Canada Labour Code, all workers are entitled to an unpaid 30-minute break after a interval of 5 consecutive hours of labor. However, that’s often meant for meals and never bathroom breaks, particularly. These breaks may also be cancelled by employers so long as the employee is paid to work by way of that point.

Paul Champ, an Ottawa-based labour and human rights lawyer, stated bathroom breaks aren’t particularly addressed in provincial labour legal guidelines as a result of they’re left up to the “reasonableness and common sense” of employers.

“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,” he instructed throughout a phone interview on Friday morning.

Most of the time, common visits to the bathroom are usually not a “big deal” for employers, Champ stated.

However, there are occasions when workers require particular lodging, for example, when a medical situation or incapacity requires them to go to the bathroom extra typically or for longer intervals of time.

In these circumstances, Champ stated a physician’s be aware will often deal with the issue. If not, he stated the worker could find a way to file a human rights criticism for monetary compensation.

“There are some court cases like that in Canada where people get $2,000 – $3,000 for being denied a medically required bathroom break,” Champ stated.

If the worker doesn’t have a medical requirement they usually’re being refused a bathroom break, Champ stated they may both have to motive with their employer immediately or depend on their union to advocate on their behalf if they’ve one.

“In some of these workplaces, people are very vulnerable. Food processing and so forth, they’re usually lower income jobs, vulnerable workers, and it’s very hard for them to raise those issues,” he stated.

Alternatively, Champ stated workers can proceed visiting the bathroom on their very own schedule and in the event that they’re fired for it, he stated they could have trigger for a constructive dismissal case, which issues unjust dismissals.


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