Managers are alerted by flashing lights if an employee is away from their desk for a toilet break or other "personal activities" beyond the allotted time. It is the latest example of lavatory rules in Norwegian companies. Last year the country's workplace ombudsman said one firm was reported for making women workers wear a red bracelet when they were having their period to justify more frequent trips to the loo. Another company made staff sign a lavatory "visitors book" while a third issued employees with an electronic key card to gain access to the lavatories so they could monitor breaks.
But unions and workplace inspectors have branded the practice at insurance company DNB as "highly intrusive" and a potential breach of their human rights. Norway's privacy regulator called Datatilsynet has now written to DNB telling them the monitoring system is "a major violation of privacy". It said: "Each individual worker has different needs and these kinds of strict controls deprive the employees of all freedoms over the course of their working day."
The employees union Finansforbundet described the rules as unacceptable. A spokesman added: "Surveying staff to limit lavatory visits, cigarette breaks, personal phone calls and other personal needs to a total of eight minutes per day is highly restrictive and intrusive and must be stopped."