I went to the toilet at least 4 time a day on my last job.

However my boss would restrict access to the bathrooms after 4PM, saying that we could easily hold it until work ends at 5PM.

Is that legal?

2 Answers 2


It is mandatory for the employer to provide sufficient restrooms (“cabinets d'aisance”), as per article R4228-10. Other provisions regulate evacuation, ventilation, heating, disabled access, etc.

There is no provision regarding when employees are permitted to use the restrooms. There can't be a single rule that works for every profession: some jobs don't let you leave your post whenever you like (e.g. machine operator, driver, guard, teacher, etc.).

The most common dispute regarding restroom use is whether employees should be paid during that time. Some employers want to count restroom use as unpaid pause time. Strictly speaking, that's legal: an employee who is in a restroom is not at the employer's disposal, therefore this doesn't count as work time. However enforcing this is often logistically difficult and wildly unpopular, so in practice it's only done in places where employees must clock out to reach a restroom.

I could only find one case with actual jurisprudence. In 1995, an industrial butchering company (Bigard) decided to limit restroom breaks to three fixed times a day. This was, as you might expect, unpopular; the employees went on strike, and eventually the labor court struck down this measure.

That's a precedent, but it doesn't seem to have made its way to the appellate court. Your case is also slightly different in that the restrooms would only be inaccessible for an hour, which is shorter than in the Bigard case. So legally speaking, it isn't clear who will win. You'll have a better chance of success by banking on the unpopularity of the measure. Talk with your colleagues and your representatives and shop stewards. Point out that employees who are trying to hold it in are unlikely to be at the top of their productivity.


Not sure about France, but I would assume that it is legal if they have alternative restrooms for use that meet the laws in the area.

They will still have to allow you to use the nearest restroom in the area ( and pay you while you walk there).

The reason is because the bathroom in theory could may not be accessible for normal reasons such as maintenance, normal cleaning, busted pipes, ect. They would still have to provide reasonable accommodations for your needs to use a restroom. This may include having the other sex bathroom be joint use with some sort of office policy on how to enter, an alternate bathroom, so on. Cleaning of a restroom is normal and will shut it down from operations, that does not remove their obligation to provide adequate restroom services.

Him saying you could hold it until work ends could be a violation of your ADA (Not sure what the equivalent in France is) and Labor rights. I would have him put the statement in writing and then talk to the labor department. If he is doing things like that, they most likely are violating other rights.

  • @nomenagentis - sorry, ADA is what I was talking about. ill edit the answer
    – Jdahern
    Jul 3, 2015 at 16:21
  • Labour law is a very general term, and almost always dependent on the location, in the U.S. the major resources for this would be OSHA's sanitation standard for general industry 29 CFR §1910.141(c). Each state / county / city may add on.
    – Jdahern
    Jul 3, 2015 at 22:39
  • ADA enters into this in a weird way, It's the aspect that a person with a disability must have access to a restroom that is ADA compliant (2010ADAStandards). There are exceptions to this where cost is prohibitive. It would be really hard to prove that keeping the restroom open for another hour is cost prohibitive. By shutting down the restrooms and not letting employees use them, he is in fact violating the 2010 ADA Standards. Now, this is a minor point, I think OSHA would have a bigger fuss with it.
    – Jdahern
    Jul 3, 2015 at 22:50

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