John Lewis Partnership, Magna Specialist Confectioners and Synergy Health Sterilisation accused of not providing professional drivers with toilet access

Carol Millett
December 1, 2017


We asked and you answered our call in numbers, highlighting that the problem of companies refusing professional drivers access to toilets is widespread. Offenders range from one of the high street’s best-known names to international IT companies and family haulage firms.

Some of those identified by drivers maintain their policy is for “security reasons”, while others declined to comment, and few were aware of HSE plans to update its guidelines to clarify that the provision of toilet facilities for visiting drivers is mandatory.

Unite is warning it will pursue companies flouting the HSE guidance. The union's national officer Adrian Jones said: “If employers continue to refuse our members access to toilets we will pursue them through all avenues open to us, and that will include naming and shaming companies that deny drivers the right to spend a penny.”

FTA road network policy head Malcolm Bingham said unless the problem is tackled it will prevent the logistics industry tackling the current driver shortage problem.

“At a time when we are trying to attract people into the industry this is a really important issue that has to be addressed,” he said. “Strengthening the HSE regulations will help get the message out there, so we fully support the HSE in making that clear. 

Taking the piss?

John Lewis Partnership

A John Lewis driver raised concern about the difficulty in accessing toilets at the retailer’s sites.

He said: “For the past 18 months drivers have been making ‘live tips’, which means unloading at night time, using a key fob, alone, in a loading area in which we have no access to toilets. 

“Some of our stores are up to 3.5 hours’ drive, with the nearest toilets between 10 to 30 minutes away. Drivers have complained. We have been told by upper management and even our CPC driver trainers that we need to teach ourselves to hold it in! They refuse to let us use toilets on-site even if they are within 20 metres of where we are unloading, due to those areas being alarmed.”

He added: “Some drivers have been close to nature’s call while unloading and have had to find a bush to [defecate] out of the view of our live security cameras. 

“We are on-site for a minimum of one hour and in that time have no access to water or toilets.”

Access to toilets in the store is not possible once the store or shopping centre closes, and nearby garages often close their toilets for security reasons in the evening.

A John Lewis spokeswoman told CM: “Before we introduced these night deliveries at selected shops, we considered the effect on partner-drivers and sought advice from both the FTA and the HSE, which have confirmed they are happy with our arrangements. 

“In addition to the facilities in our DCs, our night drivers all have access to facilities either on the shop site or adjacent to them, and they are also given details of all the facilities en route to their destination.”

The FTA added: "The consultation with John Lewis, which we supported, was that drivers are provided with access to facilities either on the shop site or adjacent to them, and in addition, details are provided to each driver of facilities on the way to their destinations.

"We have been working hard with DFT in recent months to ensure that driver facilities are adequate and consistent across the country and asking drivers to provide information to us about facilities that they encounter (both good and bad) via a Twitter hashtag.  We are in constant contact with them to maintain pressure on the government to deliver Chris Grayling’s promise to improve facilities available to drivers across the country," the FTA statement said.

Magna Specialist Confectioners, Stafford Park, Telford

One driver delivering to confectionary manufacturer Magna Specialist Confectioners complained about its impersonal attitude to drivers. He criticised the portable toilet on-site (pictured below), which he told CM was kept in “a very unhygienic condition”.

“We load at Magna in Telford. They’ve never allowed drivers to use their toilets and have a portable toilet sited outside. I’ve confronted them – through the totally impersonal ‘little hatch-hole’ that is our only point of contact – over this on several occasions.

“Their reply is to point to either the portable toilet or direct us to the nearby Greggs.”

A spokeswoman for Magna Specialist Confectioners said: “We provide adequate portable toilet facilities on-site that are regularly cleaned.” 
She added that there is also a service station near the site that drivers can use.


Ace Forwarding, Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Aberdeen

One driver contacted CM to complain that he had been refused access to the freight-forwarding and dangerous goods management company’s toilet facilities.

Ace Forwarding logistics manager Raymond Reaper confirmed that company policy does not allow drivers to access the building.

“It is a secure area under Civil Aviation Authority regulations so there is definitely no public access to our toilets.”

Asked where drivers should go to the toilet, Reaper said: “There is a café over the road.”


Also mentioned by readers who contacted us were:

  • Fraser Haulage, Coatbridge, Scotland. Sign reads: “No toilets for drivers on this site.” The company declined to comment.
  • Dana UK Axle, Birmingham. “There is a new policy that no driver is allowed to use the toilet.” The company had not responded as CM went to print.
  • Synergy Health Sterilisation, Elgin Industrial Estate, Swindon. Despite drivers having to spend considerable time on-site, they are not allowed access to healthcare provider’s toilets. The company declined to comment.
  • XMA, Nottingham. “I’ve just been refused access to the toilet on security grounds! I am absolutely bursting!” The company had not responded as CM went to print.

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About the Author


Carol Millett

Carol Millett is an award-winning freelance journalist and currently a regular contributor to a variety of DVV Media titles including Motor Transport Magazine, Commercial Motor and Transport News.

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