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do i have to clean toilets?

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johnbikemad | 20:10 Fri 18th Dec 2009 | Law
28 Answers
I am employed at a large national retail store and my job title is customer service assistant and asa penny pinching exercise the manager is drawing up rotas for the staff to clean the toilets as the cleaner left months ago, i know many staff do not wish to do this job but seem to be doing it against there wish,afraid to say no in case they may lose there job, does any body know whether we have a choice.


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Seeing as she has posted the question in the Law section I'm assuming she'd like to know where she stands legally if she were to decline. So answer the question somebody and stop preaching....
21:49 Fri 18th Dec 2009
As long as you are not cleaning toilets for the major part of your job i can't see the problem. Are you being paid more than the cleaner got paid?
Tell yourself you have a new incentive scheme for cleaning the toilets called continuity of employment. Sometimes we all have to do things just to keep our organisations running so we can keep the business going and keep our jobs. I worked for a company where we could not afford cleaners, so we did the toilet and other cleaning ourselves - it kept the business running and ensured we could pay our salaries. It ain't nice, but somebody has to do it!
Seeing as she has posted the question in the Law section I'm assuming she'd like to know where she stands legally if she were to decline. So answer the question somebody and stop preaching....
Question Author
thanks confusedCH, you have read my question right were do i stand legally? every one appreciates there job but if they are told to do a task they were not employed to do are they legally bound to do it?? or by refusing could you be fired?
The point, Confused CH and JBM, is that there may not be a legal answer as clear cut as you would want. You can look at the contract of employment and see what it says. You can look at the job description, if there is one, and see what it says. Probably if the drafter had any sense it will say something on the lines of "such other tasks as may from time to time be necessary for effective working" or similar.

Then there is the situation if everybody else says OK, we want to keep the firm going and you are the one who says no, what will the work situation with the rest of the staff be like?

The boss may take a "legal" line and say" I am giving you notice that this is now included in your job". Then it is up to you take it, or leave and claim constructive dismissal. Then it will be a matter of whether that change is considered reasonable or not, so there is no absolute definitive on this. It will be down to a tribunal to decide on the facts of the case. I think the "preaching" was just to give you the feel that you may not be in the best position to stand on your high horse.
A large national retail store - does this sound like everyone's favorite supermarket? Do you think they can't afford to employ a cleaner? This is suspiciously like the beginning of getting rid of staff for not complying with new working arrangements instead of making them redundant and all that entails.
How long have you worked there, johnbikemad? If it's less than 12 months they can dismiss you for almost any reason- including complaining about being asked to take part in the rota.
I suppose if they are making everyone do it then you'd best just get stuck in. I worked in a shop once where it was only the female staff who had to clean the toilets - thing is, it was only the male staff who really used them and they left them in a right bloody state....
I've just asked a union rep. As factor30 says, as long as it doesn't become a major part of your job, and you are given the correct tools and equipment for the job, it's not illegal.

Chances are you will have a sentence somewhere in your job description that reads "other duties as required by management". It comes under that.

However (and this is not a legal thing), any decent manager will not ask his/her staff to do a task they wouldn't undertake themselves. In other words, if the manager is any good, he/she will pitch in and do their share.
The choice as I see it, when we are heading for 3 million unemployed before long, may well be the difference between you having a job and being served with a redundancy notice. Your manager has probably been given a directive to cut business costs and in many businesses, the difference between profit and loss could well be the cost of one person's salary for that particular business unit. Each individual branch of a large retail store will still have its own profit targets which have to be met.

Over my working life there were many, many occasions when I had to do something that was not in my job description when the organisation I worked through was going through difficult times. I asked myself whether I would rather do these things, or find myself out of work.

As to the legal issue, what is in your job description? You can refuse to clean toilets if your job description does not include a clause to the effect "and any other tasks which you may from time to time be required to undertake" but taking the company to a Tribunal on this issue when there are probably a large number of people queueing up desperate to take your jjob if you leave is possibly not a sensible thing to do in the current economic climate.
Question Author
thanks everyone for your answers ,just to put you in the picture the company has over 300 stores nationwide and are opening up a dozen or so every year ,and over 20 staff have left in the last 18 months and have not been replaced so its not they cannot afford a cleaner, also a 1.5 billion turnover ,
John, look at it on the positive side, you'll have additional job description to add to your CV.
And another positive is that you'll hopefully still have a job and not be running up debts on your credit card or falling into arrears with your rent or your mortgage. Every cloud has a silver lining, even if it doesn't appear so at the time. Cleaning toilets occasionally or being in a queue at the Citizen Advice Bureau trying to get advice on how to cope financially when you're unemployed and can't meet your debts is pretty much a no brainer in my book. I'm not unsympathetic to your position. I suspect the retail outlet you work for probably doesn't inspire much loyalty from many of its employees in terms of being an employer you would be proud to work for because of its ethical practices, but when it comes to being in employment, or on the dole, one has to be a little pragmatic.
your contract probably states that you may on occasion be asked to perform other duties other than those you were contracted to do and which you are perfectly capable of. I hope one does not need a degree to clean a toilet these days ?

As a junior quality inspector I happily changed a toilet system without complaint, I know many people thought I was lowering myself but actually it was more fun that my normal stupid paperwork job. I wouldn't clean my company toilets out of choice (the animals that work where I work do make it a horrible job having pissed all over the seats) but if it meant my job I would do it if asked.

We had a guy sacked because he refused to sweet up, he said his family would not like him to be doing such a job (a muslim nutter - good ridence !)
that above was meant to be sweep up, sorry for the keyboard slip
As an old friend and work colleague of mine once sagely remarked "S*D the law, never let your pride come between you and your mortgage"
The point everyone is missing is that to operate as a cleaning operative in any workplace the operator has to provide full training in the use and application of all cleaning substances and comply with the COSHH regulations and Health and Safety regulations, Unless the cleaning operator is provided with the correct information under COSHH for evrything they use and unless they are provided with access to materials to prevent reactions and contanination by any cleaning substance then they are not allowed to work at the job as the company insurance would not cover them.
legally i do not know ,this job is never stated in your contract ,but could i ask would you not prefer to use a clean toilet ,i presume you are a guy but surely you do sit on the toilet occasionally,you could try reasoning with your manager as no manager should tell someone to do something that they wouldn't do themselves but you have to go about this the right way or you could possibly be fired ,cleaning toilets wasn't in any of my contracts although keeping store clean and tidy is i.e cleaning toilets just worded different
see thats why i refuse to clean my bathroom at home, but I don't care that my sister is not insured to clean it either nor was she ever given a manual !

I think most sustances have indications and SAFETY warnings on the containers ??? of course this is assuming we don't need a degree too now to read a flaming label !

Is there anything left in this country that one cannot do for ones self without having every minute detail explained because by default every worker is an idiot that can't deal with the simple practicalities of life ?

the more people are treated like idiots the more they will become so and its convenient isn't it to say errrrrr I don't know how, not my job, i'm not paid to do such and such. Well great, yes just go right down that road britain, looks like i have huge prospects of getting any job anywhere as i can do most every day things without requiring the attention a 3 year old requires and nobody else can anymore !
This is nothing to do with keeping your job and preferring a clean toilet, unless you have been on a COSHH training course you cannot do the cleaning properly.

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