Call centre employees at Norwegian insurance company are protesting against a new surveillance system that sets off an alarm if they spend more than eight minutes per day in the toilet.
Flashing lights alert managers if an employee is away from his or her desk for a loo break or other "personal activities" beyond the allotted time, the Telegraph reported. But unions and workplace inspectors have dubbed the practice at insurance company DNB as "highly intrusive" and a potential breach of their human rights.
Norway's privacy regulator named Datatilsynet has now written to DNB, telling them that their monitoring system is "a major violation of privacy".
"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," it said. The employees union Finansforbundet insisted that the rules are completely unacceptable.
"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," a spokesman said. Defending their move, the firm has asserted that their intention behind the checks was not to measure the breaks taken by individual workers but to assess staffing needs to ensure all calls from customers were answered and it would now be reviewing the policy.