French workers forced to ask bosses if they need pee break

Workers at a French call centre are up in arms after a new rule that forces them to have to email their bosses if they want to take a pee break.

French workers forced to ask bosses if they need pee break
Photo: Dawn Huczek/AFP

French workers at a call centre are threatening to strike over their right to pee without having to get permission from their bosses.

Some 200 workers at the Teleperformance call centre at Blagnac, near Toulouse, have been told they must send a message to their bosses every time they step away from their desk and that includes trips to relieve themselves.

Their superiors then have to give the green light for each “pause-pipi”.

“It's degrading,” Eric Dengean, a representative for the workers' CFDT union, told The Local.

“It's like we're in kindergarten where we are forced to raise our hands to be able to go for a pee.”

The system was implemented on Wednesday and is a result of Teleperfomance meeting a request from their client, French mobile operator SFR-Numericable, for whom they operate the call centre.

“It's a form of blackmail on the part of SFR-Numericable,” Dengean said, describing how staff have to press an icon to flag to their superiors what kind of a break they are planning to take.

“There's a coffee cup icon and then there's a toilet icon and so on,” he said. 

The rule has been brought in to try to limit the time the workers are away from their post in order to maximise their output. Out of their seven hour day, workers are allowed a maximum of 30 minutes away from their desks that includes for toilet trips.

“It's the same for everyone, whether they have a disability or not,” Dengean said.

An anonymous employee told local newspaper La Dépêche that 7 percent of the workforce were older or had disabilities and should not be forced to get green light from management if they want to satisfy a natural need.

Unions have made a joint call for workers to stage a walkout on Friday.

Thierry Godec, a representative from the CFDT union described the problems that workers will face.

“There’s a huge risk that managers won’t respond [to the requests for a pee break],” he told La Dépêche newspaper. “According to stats managers are only at their desks 55 percent of the time. So if it’s the 45 percent of time and an employee gets stuck on a long call they will burst a pipe.”

Teleperformance is the global leader for call centres and managers 65 call centres around the world for various clients.

The company declined to respond to The Local’s request for an explanation saying that all enquiries must go through their US press office.

L’Express newspaper reported that in 2012 the call centre was fined €750 by a labour tribunal for punishing an employee who took too many pee breaks.



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French ‘have more sex while working from home’, poll claims

For most people working from home means rarely changing out of PJs and spending a lot of time on zoom calls - but respondents to one French poll said for them it's an opportunity to have more sex.

French 'have more sex while working from home', poll claims
A change from the classic work-from-home outfit of pyjamas. Photo: AFP

A poll conducted by Ifop for extra-marital dating site Gleeden reported one third of respondents (34 percent) saying they had had sex during working hours while on télétravail (home working) and one third of people said they had more desire for their partner since the second lockdown in October.

In total 18 percent of people said they are having more sex now than they did before the pandemic.

“I've got into the habit, since I've been working at home, of taking a little nap in the middle of the day,” web designer Tomas told Le Parsien, “and my girlfriend often joins me”.

“Sometimes we even warm up beforehand with very explicit messages. In the end, it doesn't take us long, we are very relaxed afterwards and just as efficient when we get back behind our screens to work. Frankly, it's better than a cigarette break in the cold outside the office.”
The trend was particularly marked among couples with children, when working hours have become time spent together at home without the children around.
“Unlike in the spring, the children are at school and without our travel time, our days are longer,” said Sophie, a civil servant based in Strasbourg, who works two days a week at home with her husband.
However, some of the participants told pollsters that lockdown and working from home had lead to a drop in morale and libido, while others said being with their partners all day dampened their desire.
The French government still recommends télétravail for those who can, but in January released an updated protocol adding extra days in office for those who wanted them, recognising the impact of loneliness and isolation on many home-workers.
The poll – entitled The sexual and emotional life of the French during the second lockdown – was carried out on 2,017 over-18s between November 24th and 30th.