Boss wants us log restroom breaks

Boss wants us log restroom breaks

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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Dear Career Advisor:

I often read your column and find it interesting. As you have guided others, I hope you will be able to assist me as well.

I am a full-time employee serving as an administrative assistant at a small engineering firm. I work extra time every day without compensation for overtime. I do all this without complaint. What irks me though is that my boss has made it mandatory to complete a detailed log stating what is done for all breaks, even the shortest restroom break. Is it right or fair for my employer to require this?


Dear KW:

The Career Advisor appreciates your affirmation and thanks you for reading the Jamaica Observer.

I am deducing from your letter that you are not reckoned as an hourly paid employee whose pay may be docked for breaks taken, but that you are concerned with what you perceive to be an invasion of privacy.

Whereas your employer might be interested in clinically analysing every minute of employment-time for purposes of productivity measurements, this might be at the expense of providing a stress-free, supportive work environment. Trying to maximise productivity at the expense of employee comfort is short-sighted and not likely to be sustainable. The Career Advisor would not be surprised if the employment turnover at your company is very high.

In addition to that, while he is well within his right to keep a record for each week of “the times at which intervals for meals are allowed and the duration of each interval” as per the Shops and Offices Act schedule 11 b, it does not appear that your employer has any basis in law for documenting restroom breaks.

If your employment contract does not state it specifically, please seek clarification from your employer as to the number of break periods you are allowed, including lunchtime, and the duration of each. Many companies allow for one short break in the morning and one in the afternoon, not including the minimum of 45 minutes for lunch.

If you meet with reluctance to discontinue the requirement to log restroom breaks, you could get around it by arranging your restroom use within set break times and simply indicating “break” or “lunch” as the case may be on the log.

We trust that you and your employer will be able to arrive at an amicable solution with both parties appreciating and understanding the needs of the other — a stress-free environment for you and maximum productivity for your employer.

All the best.


Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at

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