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Britain's bosses are being pressed to treat their staff with respect and allow them sufficient time to take pee breaks.

Launching a campaign today the TUC highlights a legal loophole which says that employers have got to provide lavatories for their staff, but don't have to let them go when they want.

Call centres - where there is great pressure to respond to customer enquiries - have been singled out as one area where this problem can be particularly acute.

Some employers time exactly how long workers are away from their workstations - information that can be used at a later date during work-related assessments. Others insist that employees have to put up their hands and get permission when they want to visit the lavvy.

TUC General Secretary Elect Brendan Barber said: "It's incredible to think that in the twenty first century, workers are still being penalised for going to the loo.

"Employers clinging to Dickensian bathroom break policies should understand that if they trusted and respected their staff, and treated them as adults, not naughty children, they would end up with a healthier, better motivated, more productive workforce," he said. ®

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