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6-minute bathroom rule: Chicago company rewards 6-min poopers, penalizes laggers

If you think the rules governing non-work time in your office are strict, spend some time working at (the ironically titled) WaterSaver Faucet Company. This Chicago-based manufacturer, which provides faucets, valves and such to science laboratories, has a message for its staff: Keep your business to six minutes or less, or get dinged for your dung.

Six minutes and counting...
Bathroom gender sign / Wikimedia Commons

Reports CNBC via MSN: “If you work at WaterSaver Faucet Co., when you gotta go, you might not want to go. The Chicago company installed a new system that monitors bathroom breaks and penalizes employees who spend more than six minutes a day in the washroom outside their normal breaks.”

In order to gain access to the bathrooms, employees have to enter an access card in a reader that tracks their time. Sort of a “swipe to wipe” policy.

The local union, as you can imagine, is squarely against the potty policy. An attorney for Teamsters Local 743, which represents about 80 workers at the plant, says that the micromanaging minutiae is an invasion of privacy. Workers have been picketing outside, saying that the company hired humans, not robots, and from time to time, we humans need a few minutes of uninterrupted peace to pinch and wash up.

Nineteen sink-builders have already been disciplined, the union says.

“The company has spreadsheets on every union employee on how long they were in the bathroom,” union representative Nick Kreitman said. “There have been meetings with workers and human resources where the workers had to explain what they were doing in the bathroom.”

The company says they were forced to take the extreme measures after they realized that man hours were being lost on the manufacturing line because employees were abusing the bathrooms and taking “excessive” time on the john.

WaterSaver’s owner, Steve Kersten, somehow determined that approximately 120 hours of production were lost in May because his workers were in the bathroom too much.

“Our point of view is that anyone can go to the washroom when they need to but what bothers us is extended periods of time and multiple trips that cause lost productivity,” Kersten.

And nothing motivates better than cash, correct? So if employees keep their white t.p. usage to a minimum, they get some extra green. Incredulously, WaterSaver will give up to $20 each month, per employee, if they don’t take any bathroom breaks during their shift, which means they have to hold it until their allotted break time.

“They offered $1 per day for anyone who doesn’t go to the bathroom at all,” Kreitman said.

CNBC says that a “12-page rule list given to employees is also pretty strict about how to take care of your personal business at the company.”

As an example, policy in writing actually instructs employees to “place all toilet paper in the toilet and make sure that the toilet is completely flushed,” and to refrain from “malicious gossip” and “derogatory or inflammatory comments about the company” while spending one’s six-minutes or less in the bathroom.

Is six minutes enough time to take a load off?

“I'm 61 years old,” said 33-year veteran employee Rudy Dixon. “How are you going to tell me how to use the bathroom?”

Perhaps the company can modify their rules and grant roll-over minutes. Hold it all week, and then on Friday, when the gang gets together for lunch at Taco Bell, have the afternoon to yourself with the crossword puzzle.

Think this company's policy is fair? Sound off below.

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