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Salary Deductions (Toilet Breaks)

Volume 588: debated on Thursday 20 November 2014

18. What steps he is taking to prevent employers deducting money from staff salaries for toilet breaks. (906152)

The Government would strongly encourage all employers, as a matter of good management practice, not to make deductions in pay for necessary and unavoidable interruptions to work. Employers who do not pay for toilet breaks may find themselves in breach of the Equality Act 2010 or of individual employment contracts.

I thank the Minister for that reply. A young constituent of mine was alerted, having just been sent details of his salary to his mobile phone. He was not told what the deductions were for. When he inquired, he was told they were for toilet breaks. The company tells me it makes ad hoc deductions for breaks away from the work station. Does the Minister agree that this is unacceptable, and if ad hoc deductions are made, they must be detailed and explained?

Absolutely: workers have rights to rest breaks, which there is a requirement for under law, and if deductions are made from pay, they have to be very clearly outlined—and if they take somebody below the national minimum wage, the employer could find themselves in breach of that law. I very much encourage the hon. Lady’s constituent to seek advice from the pay and work rights helpline on 0800 917 2368, and I am very happy that she has raised this issue and awareness of it in the House.

Will the Minister update the House on how many businesses to date have taken up her Government’s unpopular and much derided shares for rights scheme, taking away people’s rights at work in exchange for shares?

There is an interesting link between the issue of toilet breaks and that question, but in answer to the point about the employee shareholder policy, there is no requirement for companies to inform the Government when they have undertaken that model of employment, and therefore accurate figures would not be available to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question.

I was, frankly, too generous, but the Minister, being the accomplished parliamentarian that she is, was ready with an answer.