The law states that employers must provide ‘suitable and sufficient’ welfare facilities for the well-being of their employees while at work.

Welfare facilities cover such areas as toilets, washing, somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks and changing facilities.

What welfare facilities do I need to provide?

The extent of the facilities you need to have in place will depend somewhat on the number of people you employ and the work they will be undertaking but as a general guide you will need to provide:

  • enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them, including disabled toilets
  • where possible, separate male and female facilities
  • clean, well-lit and ventilated facilities
  • hot and cold running water
  • a supply of toilet paper, soap and means for drying hands, for example paper towels
  • an area for eating and drinking with a way of getting a hot drink, for example a kettle or vending machine
  • a way of heating food, for example a microwave, if hot food cannot be purchased near by
  • a supply of clean drinking water either tap or bottled
  • changing facilities if the work involves wearing specialist clothing
  • rest facilities for pregnant and nursing mothers

What toilet and washing facilities do I need to provide?

You have to provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for your employees. ‘Adequate’ means you have to provide:

  • enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them - people should not have to queue for long periods to go to the toilet
  • where possible, separate facilities for men and women - failing that, rooms with lockable doors
  • clean facilities - to help achieve this walls and floors should preferably be tiled (or covered in suitable waterproof material) to make them easier to clean
  • a supply of toilet paper and, for female employees, a means of disposing of sanitary dressings
  • facilities that are well lit and ventilated
  • facilities with hot and cold running water
  • enough soap or other washing agents
  • a basin large enough to wash hands and forearms if necessary
  • a means for drying hands, for example paper towels or a hot air dryer
  • showers where necessary, for example for particularly dirty work

Do I need to provide drinking water?

Yes. The law requires that you provide drinking water and ensure that:

  • it is free from contamination and is preferably from the public water supply - bottled water dispensers are acceptable as a secondary supply
  • it is easily accessible by all employees
  • there are adequate supplies taking into consideration the temperature of the working environment and types of work activity
  • cups or a drinking fountain are provided

What arrangements should I make for meal breaks?

There should be a suitable seating area for workers to use during breaks - it needs to be clean and located where food will not get contaminated.

There should be washing facilities nearby, and a means of heating food or water for hot drinks. You must maintain good hygiene standards.


Key legislation

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.