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OFF BEAT: Norwegian insurance company monitors workers' bathroom breaks


Employees at a Norwegian insurance company have eight minutes per day to do their business before an alarm alerts managers of time spent away from their desks, including bathroom breaks.

Using a new surveillance system, managers at a life insurance unit of Oslo, Norway-based DNB Bank A.S.A. are alerted by flashing lights when an employee has been away from their desk for “personal activities” beyond the allotted time, according to news reports.

Employees and unions are balking at the new practice, worried that the monitoring system is a violation of privacy.

"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 for the employee union Finansforbundet told The Telegraph.

This isn’t the first Norwegian lavatory lockdown implemented against employees.

Norway’s chief workplace ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon told The Telegraph that one firm required employees to wear a red bracelet during their menstrual cycles to indicate the need for more restroom visits.

"Toilet codes relating to menstrual cycles are clear violations of privacy and is very insulting to the people concerned,” Mr. Thon told the newspaper.

DNB said the monitoring system’s purpose was to take measurements over time to ensure that phones were properly staffed to handle customers’ calls, according to newspaper. DNB said it is now reviewing its policy.