Are toilets in cafes mandatory

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getpooh | 22:54 Sat 04th Feb 2012 | Law
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In my local bakers there is a customers toilet with a notice on the door stating "Not for customer use". Is this allowed. The cafe has a large seating area of 20 X 2 person tables. The sign has been like this for months. I have now covertly filmed staff going using a key to use the toilet. I have asked to use the toilet and have been told that it is not for customer use. Any ideas?


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You need to phone your local council and ask them, there are many factors that would affect whether toilets are required and each council has different rules.
A customers toilet that's not for customers use. Mmm.
I think that this thread is taking the pooh.....
A local deli served light lunches, coffees etc when it opened but the local council made them remove them as there were no toilet facilities, but after many protests by customers and such they were allowed to bring back the tables and start serving light meals again, still unsure about the whole customer toilet provision thing though so maybe there is some legislation about customer toilets somewhere
From fadeouts link it would seem cafes do have to but restaurants don't .....

But then what are the rules as regards a smaller establishment. A small sandwich bar with only 6 or seats, do they need to ahve toilets? Actual one near me doesn't!
I have always been led to believe that if a cafe has tables for customer to sit in to eat, there should be toilet and (more importantly) hand washing facilities for the customers to use.
There is no specific law which states that a café or restaurant has to provide toilets. Some local authorities impose such a condition when planning permission is sought to create a new food service facility, but such conditions can't be imposed retrospectively. (so long-established cafés in such areas still won't be under any obligation to provide toilet facilities for their customers)

The majority of the smaller cafés in central London (under the control of Westminster council), for example, don't have customer toilet facilities. (Some don't even have facilities for their staff. They have to use public toilets or come to an arrangement with neighbouring premises. As long as there are adequate hand-washing facilities for the staff the law is complied with). Unless things have changed recently, there are still a couple of pubs in England where customers have to walk down the road to use the public toilets, as they're not available in those pubs.

I must admit I always thought that toilets and hand washing facilities have to be provided in places where you sit down to eat.
Have never come across a place where these facilities were not provided and if I did, then I wouldn't eat there.
Go to the toilet and wash your hands before you leave home to the cafe or pub. Shouldn't expect to get to use someone else's toilets just because you decide to buy a brew there. If you offer your postman or builder a brew, You ain't offering him the privilege to do a dump in your loo and stink it out are you? Maybe the cafe don't want that happening in their premises after previous instances.
I thought that if they sold alcohol they had to provide customer loos. I try to avoid public loos like the plague anyway .
i find ab fascinating. There have been 3 questions about public facilities providing loos in as many weeks (optician; books`shops; cafes). There have also been about 4/5 questions about children who own properties jointly with their parents and what happens/ed why the parent died/went into care. All very peculiar (although perhaps not quite as peculiar as the OP covertly filming staff going to the loo)
Premises selling alcohol are different
And they only have to have toilers in certain crics
Cafes do not have to have loos although, as already stated, some councils will have rules and condition's on opening one
I think it will be found that the provision of toilet facilitates is covered by the Supply of goods and services act 1982.This requires that toilet facilities must be available for staff in a restaurant & wherever possible for customers, where the restaurant has a drinks licence or is open after 11pm they must have toilet facilities for customers. So it will depend if your local bakery has a drinks licence or is open after 11pm or not as to whether they must have toilets for customers use.
Perhaps a little common sense is lacking on the part of the bakery? They certainly should provide toilet facilities for any customers eating in their establishment. Failing to do so is poor customer relations and shows what little respect or regard they have for their customers. It's hardly a professional approach to running a business.

I wouldn't eat there getpooh. However, they sound as if they're the sort of people who wouldn't care anyway!
That is very odd. A customer toilet usually states that it is only for customer use. You could always go before you visit there or show your distaste for their rules by not going there at all.
Getpooh is an unfortunate name for someone enquiring about toilets...
While I take your point about 'customer service', Andyvon, the reality is that many small café owners can't afford to pay for the vandalism which can often occur when toilets are made available to the public.

I was in a small bakery/sandwich shop/café in Sawston (Cambs) recently. It's quite an upmarket area and certainly not the type of town which you'd associate with hooliganism. However the owner of the one-woman business told me that she'd given up trying to provide toilet facilities for customers, after several instances of vandalism had cost her over £1000 in under a year. (It wasn't actually smashing anything up but, for example, someone had deliberately rammed an apple so solidly into the U-bend that the plumber had to remove and replace the bowl in order to remove it).

Having run a railway station (where the toilet facilities suffered some form of vandalism every few days) I know only too well that providing customer toilets can result in major expenditure for a business which is simply trying to provide good customer service.
Just a point which comes to mind here:

There's a branch of Burger King on London's Oxford Street where they employ security staff solely to ensure that only bona fide customers use their toilet facilities. Given the lengthy hours which the branch is open that must be costing them at least £500 per week (for a couple of staff on minimum wage) and possibly much more. No business would pay out that much money unless it was less than the cost of cleaning and repairs which they'd otherwise face. Providing toilet facilities isn't cheap!

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