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Ask Slashdot: When Does Time Tracking at Work Go Too Far? 630

An anonymous reader writes "I work in a call center, full time, for a large mail order pharmacy. Recently, as part of their campaign to better track time spent both at and away from our desks, they have started tracking bathroom breaks. They use a Cisco phone system, and there is now a clock out option that says 'Bathroom.' My question is whether or not this is in any way acceptable in a large corporate environment (Around 800 people work at this same pharmacy) and is it even legal? How invasive would this really be considered, and beyond privacy concerns, how are they going to deal with the humiliation that their employees feel as a result of this? Has this happened to any of you?"
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Ask Slashdot: When Does Time Tracking at Work Go Too Far?

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  • Unionize (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:20AM (#41351837)

    You need a union. It's the only way to fix this kind of thing.

    • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Insightful)

      by leromarinvit ( 1462031 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:22AM (#41351853)

      You need a union. It's the only way to fix this kind of thing.

      This. So much this. You don't have to put up with this bullshit. And it will only get worse unless you fight back.

      • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Interesting)

        by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:47AM (#41352047)

        Although I agree with the sentiment, as a former vicidial / polycom consultant in all cases where I had to log toilet breaks the underlying reason was always driven by the clients, not the call agent employers. The call centers would prefer to log nothing at all, but the clients pay good money for analysis of the dialler logging. Take a look at the contracts and you'll get an idea of how detailed these agreements are. It sucks, but that's where the pay check comes from. If you push back too hard there are a hundred more centers that could be up and running with the same product in a few days.

        • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Informative)

          by InsectOverlord ( 1758006 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:25AM (#41352797)
          When I worked as a consultant for a software company I had to log every break I took, no matter how short, for billing purposes. While that sucks, it's understandable. But one didn't have to log "bathroom". One just logged "personal" and that could be a private call, coffee, bathroom, fresh air, whatever. Requiring the employee to log bathroom breaks strikes me as a totally unacceptable violation of privacy.
          • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
            Seems to me that they need the first person that is leaving anyway to file a sexual harassment complaint.
        • True enough, but some push back is required. Some of these clients are finding out that the bottom of the barrel perform on the phones much worse than they perform on their bathroom breaks.

      • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Informative)

        by alere ( 2731427 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:55AM (#41352103)
        Joined just to comment on this. Used to work at a unionized call center for a major corporation, they did the exact same thing. Tracked bathroom breaks, had people coming to work while contagious and ill, wouldn't let you use PTO you earned because it was "not available that day". The only thing the union did for me before I quit was take my money. Now I am extremely happy in a non unionized job making a fair wage, infinitely better benefits, and I actually enjoy going to work (not so much getting up to go to work though :) ). I've been on both sides of the fence, and my experience with unions have been they are more worried about their bottom line than helping the people who pay them. They may be good for some people and really help them, but I have not experienced one that does.
        • Let me guess, all the shop stewards must also be employees? You don't have the choice to elect a processional shop steward employed by the union because he's not an employee of the company, right?
          • by ryanov ( 193048 )

            And if they weren't, you'd be hearing "he doesn't care what happens to us -- he doesn't work here."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jawnn ( 445279 )
          Right. So unions are always a bad thing..., because of your limited experience. See: provincialism. When you've finished learning why your argument is bullshit, please take the time to study some history, and learn why your premise is bullshit as well. There was a time, not that long ago, when working conditions, virtually everywhere, were nowhere near what they are now. The only thing that made that change was unionization and laws that allowed them to exist.
          • >>>laws that allowed them to exist.

            In a free country like the U.S. you don't need the permission of the government to peaceably-assemble your coworkers & hold meetings to present a unified voice to the company.

            • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @03:15PM (#41354893)

              Um, yes you do. Where the hell did you ever get the idea that the USA is a "free country", or that there's freedom of assembly here? Did you never hear of "free speech zones"? In case you didn't know, it's now illegal [] to protest anywhere the Secret Service may be; taking part in a protest against the government will now make you a felon and earn you a 10-year prison sentence.

      • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:24AM (#41352321)
        OR... you could just find a new job.
        • OR... you could just find a new job.

          Have you ever changed jobs? I'm not talking about moving from one Starbucks to another three blocks away. It can initially be quite expensive to do so. It could require new commuting expenses or even moving expenses, even if you get help from your new employer, multiplied by the number of people in your family. Unless you're expecting a giant increase in pay, and especially if you aren't, you'd better have an appropriate surplus of cash available to you because you're surely going to need some for both seen

          • You don't need to move 3 blocks to change jobs within Starbucks; you can easily do it in just one block, frequently less.

            How that place manages to stay in business in this crappy economy, selling massively overpriced poor-quality drinks, I have no idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      USA to china: "when I grow up, I want to be just like you!"

      (think about that..)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dmacleod808 ( 729707 )
        Unions will results in layoffs. Corporations will not just accept lower profits because their labor unionizes, they will layoff (Or go to India or the Philippines) until the costs are back in line to where they were.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          and to fight back, any attempt at a layoff causes ALL the workforce to strike.

          THAT is why you have a union. 100% that.

          its high time we bring back unions. corps have shown they are not good at self-managing and self-policing. left alone, they will squeeze you dry. they used to! study your history!!

          • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:29AM (#41351907)
            Until the United States passes union laws, this will just result in the entire workforce being laid off and non - union talent being hired. There are plenty of people who want a job.
            • that's why you hire teamsters (etc) to 'manage' the picket lines.

              to counter a brut regime, you bring in your own hired thugs.

              seriously, its the only way to fight fire. the bosses are not about to give in voluntarily. again, study your history. what we lost over the last 50 yrs, we have to fight AGAIN to get back.

              the repubs are busy trying to destroy organized labor. and they are winning, too ;(

          • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Insightful)

            by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:37AM (#41351961)

            Exactly. The right has demonized unions while ignoring that they level the playing field between an employee and an employer. Without them, you get abuses like this. That doesn't mean that a union needs to drive a business into the ground. Typically they both understand that a strong business means a strong profit means a strong workforce. If things get unbalanced too much to one side, you end up with either corrupt management, or a company that goes out of business.

          • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Karlt1 ( 231423 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:39AM (#41351983)

            Hate to say it but it's not a highly technical job. If people start complaining they just outsource to India.

            • Re:Unionize (Score:4, Insightful)

              by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:49AM (#41352055)

              and then we need to counter that with laws (and tax codes) that, uhm, 'motivate' against such anti-american behavior.

              I'd be all for it.

              since corp ethics is on 'perma vacation', we need some teeth in the law system to stop this kind of continuing bad corp behavior.

              if we don't take care of our own people, we will slip into being a 2nd world country. you want that??

    • by yog ( 19073 ) * on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:58AM (#41352141) Homepage Journal

      Better than unionizing -- just take your wireless headset to the toilet. You can stay on your calls, and there can be an LCD monitor in the stall if you need to reference information, read from a script, check your Facebook page, etc.

      At the end of a particularly annoying call, the sound of a toilet flushing would be entirely appropriate, too!

    • Re:Unionize (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:57AM (#41353077) Homepage
      The OSHA rules for bathroom breaks are that the employer cannot deny reasonable access to the bathroom and can't REFUSE an employee's ability to take a bathroom break unless the employees absence would put other people on jeopardy (such as requiring a certain number of people to run a piece of machinery, which would require somebody else to fill in for the employee while on bathroom break).

      There are no laws that prohibit or restrict the employer from tracking bathroom breaks but the employee must be paid for all breaks less than 20 minutes. Also, from what I've read, there is nothing to prevent an employer from letting an employee go for excessive time away from their work area.

      As far as 'when does time tracking go too far?' An employer should definitely be able to track when employees are NOT actually working, I don't see a problem here unless the employer is restricting bathroom usage.
  • Short answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:24AM (#41351869) Homepage

    Time to start sending out resumes.

    • by yog ( 19073 ) *

      I was thinking the same thing.

      The job market's bad, but it's not THAT bad.

    • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:56AM (#41352115) Journal
      Or simply time to get everybody to constantly hit the "Bathroom" button. When management realise that every cubicle is occupied by an average of 17 workers every minute of the working day and work is still getting done, they'll realise it's pointless. A virtual dirty protest if you will.
      • Re:Short answer (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CrashandDie ( 1114135 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:43AM (#41352453)

        They can't. If they hit the bathroom break button, it changes their state, and they won't get any calls.

        I'm the lead dev / product manager for a software VoIP callcentre solution. We've had to develop features such as "don't allow an agent to take a bathroom break if there aren't enough agents available, or the waiting queue is too big, or if the estimated waiting is over X".

        Supervisors will spend the day looking at the monitor, constantly checking how many calls are waiting, how long each agent is on the line. They will put themselves in "whisper" mode, so they can yell at the agent, without the customer hearing anything. If you're ever on the line with a callcentre drone, and he suddenly starts taking time to answer, or suddenly starts having trouble finding his words, it's probably a sign you're using up too much of his allotted per-call time, and getting the poor lad into trouble.

        We operate in France, so we've had to deal with a lot of employee-protection laws, but more often that not, our customers (the callcentre) will force us to override specific settings (the mandatory 2 second break after each call can be revoked if the last call was too long; hence not effective enough), even if they violate the law.

  • Honestly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:24AM (#41351871)
    Get another job. You are just being treated like cattle and there is NOTHING you can do. If you were to sue, they will find some reason to fire you. If you were to Unionize, there would be massive layoffs. In my company, I don't clock in, I don't clock out, I can work 5 hours per week overtime without approval. And I work for a fortune 300 company who you think would be soulless. I see how our CSRs are treated, and it is a damn sight better than anywhere else. And we have metrics in the upper 90% range for hold times (Less than 90 seconds) and call backs. Customer first will always make you profitable.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      ..not to offend hard working call center people, but wouldn't that be the usual recommendation to anyone working at one regardless of if they're tracking bathroom breaks?

    • Yeah, getting out is the only sane option. I used to work at a place which implemented a tracking scheme like that, and after two weeks they had lost about two thirds of the people. Too many to have the remaining people work overtime. I was among the people who left, but heard from someone who stayed that they stopped that silliness only a month after introducing it.

      So getting out will make one of two things happen: Either you are free from a horrible employment situation, or you help make them see the erro

    • This was my first thought upon reading the question as well. When I did business to business marketing for a Big Hardware Producer, I was treated much the same. We had certain call center goals - 120 "dials", 2 leads a day, 5-6 personalized emails. I quit about the time they raised the goal to 200 dials a day. Although they weren't cold calls, it was still telemarketing in the end, and the salary wasn't enough to justify the stress. I quit a week before I got married (since hey, I'm a lady and that sor
  • by overlook77 ( 988190 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:27AM (#41351887)
    Your company should track all "Personal Breaks" together and not specify whether it's a bathroom break or not. A personal break would be a smoke break, getting water/food, bathroom, etc. There is no reason to break it down further in my opinion. I'm a call center manager, and at our company we lump all that stuff together. At the end of the month if someone is not meeting their percent time work goals we can see how much of the problem is attributed to personal breaks vs. other things, such as off the phone research. But I personally don't want to know that someone was taking a dump for 20 min.
  • by TenAngryPistols ( 2519272 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:28AM (#41351897)
    of chinese/taco bell for lunch... They did this at my first job (tech support) a few years ago. I just did everything like I always did.. if I had to drop a huge deuce and it took 10-15 minutes... then whatever. What're they gonna say? "You're fired for taking big long dumps?" Besides, with those Cisco soft phones when you "log out" and choose the available options for why you're logging out, most people will select the most generic answer like "asking a question" or "helping a customer" or whatever. You'll eventually see that people in your apartment spend a LOT of time "asking questions/helping customers" and almost nobody has to poop anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      What this guy said. Any REAL action is going to take a lot of work on your part and give you no real benefit. Meanwhile, if you just game the system, you win! That's why we love the system. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a new job. Couldn't hurt.
    • Re:eat a lot.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:36AM (#41352403)

      You'll eventually see that people in your apartment spend a LOT of time "asking questions/helping customers" and almost nobody has to poop anymore.

      And you've just discovered the REAL purpose of rolling something like this out. Anyone mgmt likes (hotties, brownnosers, relatives, etc) will ignored when they falsify records, but anyone they want to get rid of (wrong race, wrong church, wrong political party, whatever) will be fired with cause due to documented fraud resulting in no unemployment benefits because they were falsifying timesheet documents by taking a dump instead of "asking questions". I mean they'd got a timesheet showing you were "asking a question" and a avi file from the security cameras clearly showing you walk into the bathroom, it seems an open and shut case?

      This also goes higher level than just employee. Now any team lead / supvr / manager can be disciplined at any time for allowing the falsification to happen ... or perhaps not disciplined ... depending on how much the boss of the lead / supvr / mgr likes the victims race, church, political party, etc.

      • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:05AM (#41352613)

        This is the real evil of overly draconian regulations or laws. Sure, the subjects can choose to ignore them, and the authorities can choose not to enforce them -- but the authorities can also choose to enforce them, at their own discretion, and with no apparent legal recourse for those they single out. As far as I can tell, "everybody else was doing it" is not a valid defense.

  • don't overthink it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:29AM (#41351903)

    You're in a call center, so when you get up today, you already have to hit something to stop receiving calls that were in queue. I would say the purpose of that button is to separate out a bit more detail on the reporting side vs, checking up on individuals. I came from a prior call-center environment, on the backend network/telephony team, and having to "check-in/out" each time you walk away from the phone/cube was normal. This was a 600 person call center, also healthcare.

  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:34AM (#41351941) Homepage

    You can be pretty confident the management doesn't impose this on themselves.

    It's up to a human manager to determine if you're abusing bathroom breaks or not. Sometimes there are good reasons. A robot isn't going to give any leeway.

  • I see it both ways (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:38AM (#41351963)
    I do have to say I do feel a bit of empathy for OP. I'm sure if I had to 'time' my bathroom breaks after going to a Mongolian grill for lunch, I'd be a bit embarrassed to mark that down as well. All jokes aside, I do go back and forth on this subject of time tracking. I'd say inherently, company time gets more abused than treated as a flexible privilege. At my work in salaried careers, I see people taking 'multiple' breaks during the day that total up to 'hours' (yes not an hour, hours), plus smoke breaks, plus water cooler talk, plus BS about random subjects at their desk, 2+ hour lunch breaks, showing-up-late-leave-early enough, work-from-home-because-I'm-expecting-the-UPS-guy, etc. that I start to question who tracks all this or even matches this all up on their time sheet at the end of the pay period. I don't have enough experience in call centers to really say why they are really driven on 'time' as their measurement medium. Bottom line, I like to keep things simple: Either some suit thought it would be a good idea to do that so they get a bonus for meeting some silly 'goal' they had to dream up or it's been enough of a abuse problem because employees have figured out bathroom breaks aren't measured against you and do not effect your bonus incentives, so to get an extra break, they claim a weak blatter.
  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:38AM (#41351967)
    If you care about your rights, working in a call center is not the right job for you. Only drones can tolerate it for long. It seems you have hit your limit, so go take a permanent bathroom break and find yourself a new job.
  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:39AM (#41351973)

    I worked for a couple years in a helpdesk organization where breaks were tracked. In my country you are legally entitled to 10 minutes break every hour. You can take 10x 1 minute, or 1x 10 minute, or even skip a few breaks and take a larger one. At the end of the day though, you should not have more than 90 minutes of breaks.
    This was tracked through Avaya CMS and usually there was no action taken even if those breaks were exceeded, as long as the offended didn't blatantly exceed his break quota for an extended amount of days.
    It depends a lot on how does the employer interpret that data. In my company, the processes and procedures are lax, there's usually no follow up unless someone really abuses breaks.
    Another reason for monitoring is capacity management. You wouldn't want all your employees to go on breaks at the same time (some tend to group up when going for a smoke, that affects call flow and customers). There was a live report publicly displayed on every center using projectors, so that everyone could see whether they affect call flow or not by going in a break. Sometimes agents had a particularly nasty call and they needed to lay off the pressure by stepping away for a few minutes, and all they needed to do was ask for an exception, that was always granted. There was a guy who tried abusing that as well, so I had to talk to him for a few times and he finally got back in line.
    Monitoring your behavior while at work is okay. being absurd about the data is not. Fine line between those two.

  • by EngrBohn ( 5364 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:51AM (#41352063)

    I can give you an answer, but it'll have to take less than three minutes to explain. More than three minutes gets rounded to six minutes, a billable tenth of an hour.

  • by upuv ( 1201447 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:58AM (#41352139) Journal

    Most countries this is 100% legal. They can also listen in on all phone conversations work related or not. They can also place a video camera pointed at your face from 1 foot away.

    Is it good for the people working there. NOPE.
    Does it instil a sense of corporate loyalty. NOPE.

    I've been through these call centres. I feel depressed just entering the floor. It's a cattle station with better flooring.

    Get a trade, skill, education, anything and move on out.

  • by way2slo ( 151122 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:59AM (#41352149) Journal

    Lots of companies force employees to track their time. Even salary employees who legally do not have to punch a clock to get paid. That's fine. It helps them for future estimates and proposals involving labor hours. It can be a very valuable tool.

    However, all too often management begins to use these time tracking systems to try and shift overhead expenses to something billable to a customer. You walk in and read e-mails on billing guidance on how regular staff meetings, training, and even fire drills are billable to customers. Then another e-mail on billing guidance informs you that the normal overhead related billing is now forbidden unless given explicit authorization (that you will never get). Essentially, they are lying to themselves, that they have zero overhead when running their business. That nothing ever goes wrong and no one has to wait for anything.

    But the one thing they forget is that by charging their customers for everything, they are charging them too much for services. The business is now vulnerable to any other business that can provide the same service and not charge their overhead to the customer.

  • by CaroKann ( 795685 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:22AM (#41352303)
    I've noticed that when companies start to go overboard with the amount of time and/or project tracking detail people need to record, employees resort to just making stuff up. I'm not saying they out-right lie, but because it's impossible to have a system detailed enough to record every little thing that may happen in a work day, people will often just pick a generic bucket to dump time into for things they don't remember or don't know how to categorize.

    This defeats the purpose of installing these types of systems. Instead of simply not knowing exactly what employees are spending their time on, they now have an inaccurate or down-right false picture of what employees are doing. This can lead the management to make the wrong decisions on things such as when to hire or how to allocate resources, especially when they believe the data over their lower level managers.
  • Manager here (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:28AM (#41352351)

    I'm a manager at a call center. We track time away from calls, not because we care how long it takes you to take a smoke, or to take a crap, but for metrics. We have over 25,000 people on the phones world wide and how many minutes a call takes vs. how many workers are available for a call vs. how many workers are away from their desk (for whatever reason, we don't care) is critical to improving wait time.

    As usual for the paranoia gang around here, it's not really about you. It's a big wad of data that is considered on the whole to make better business decisions.

    Now back to your extended shitter break.

    • Re:Manager here (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gigne ( 990887 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:12PM (#41353675) Homepage Journal

      This. I also work in the industry. There is a massive amount of truth to what you say here, but there is some truth to the submitters fears.
      I deal daily with several large call centres all over the world. Each want different things from their "Bathroom break" metrics.

      1) Some outsourcer call centres' clients pay for these metrics. Usually as a summary figure on the campaign they paid for. These cleint pay big money for a campaign to be run, so they want to know everything... time waiting for a call, time on a call, time wrapping, time crapping etc etc.

      2) Call centres themselves want to know about their own figures. Everyone has targets, SLAs to work to. Knowing how productive you have been is sumarised, and not focussed on individuals. Sure if 50% of the day was spend in the bathroom, you need to do something about it!

      3) To use as ammo. If you have an underperformer, pain int he arse, or otherwise undesirable person you want rid of, this is good ammo. Getting rid of someone for putting "bathroom break" while actually smoking/talking/whatever is great for a falsifying records offense. Sickening but have seen done.

      3 is a little tinfoil hat, but I have seen this done more than once.

      In short, there is probably nothing to worry about here, its pretty normal in call centres.

      Also, submitter, dude, you posted on slashdot with a reasoned question... Surely a call centre is not for you? (ignore me if I am not seeing some big picture)

  • by theedgeofoblivious ( 2474916 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:18AM (#41352729)

    When I worked in a call center, it was the reps' responsibility to hit a button on the phone so that after the call our phone would be put into a special mode, not dropped right back into the queue. This let us have enough time to document the call. After documenting the call, we were supposed to hit the button again to be dropped back into the queue to get another call.

    We had to have an average of less than 30 seconds per call in this mode.

    At the times of day when we weren't getting calls, I wouldn't hit the button. I'd go straight back into the queue and know with about 90% certainty that I wasn't going to get a call.

    I kept track of the number of times I went straight back into the queue, and at the times when we were getting slammed the hardest, I'd use up the extra time I had saved up, and stay out of the queue for a minute or 90 seconds, until we stopped being slammed again.

    I was really good at the job, and my average call time was about half of the average of most people on the floor, and for the ~6 months I was there, my lowest review was 97%.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:26PM (#41353307) Homepage Journal

    If they're going to treat you like a small child, act like one.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:02PM (#41354127) Homepage Journal

    Yes, yes it is, tho it may not be good for morale

    You get x minutes of break time according to your contract/law. Bathroom breaks come out of that time, not the companies time.

    If you ever worked on an assembly line, or a construction job site you would already know this is how it works. Office people really don't have a clue these days on what real work is it seems.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:13AM (#41360319) Homepage Journal

    I used to work full-time in an elected position representing employee interests, so I do have a bit of expertise on the subject.

    That said, I can not comment on "legal", because that is a matter of your local laws, and I only know my local laws well enough to say that.

    Aside from legal, however, this is completely inacceptable. The employer does have an interest to track whether or not you are working, but when you are not working, you are spending private time, and what you do in your private time is your business.

    If you are in a position to negotiate, ask what the real interest of the employer is. Almost certainly, he doesn't really care if you take a piss or bone his secretary. What he wants to know is that you are not working and probably what kind of break you are taking in the sense of an answer to the question how soon you will be back. A solution here would be to make two options of breaks, one regular and one short break, where the short break option does the employer that you'll be back shortly (duh).

    Then again, he just might be a Big Brother control freak, in which case you need to get enough support from co-workers to put pressure on him and tell him that you and lots of others are not willing to accept that invasion of your private time and that either the bathroom breaks are paid time, or you will continue to book them as regular breaks and he can take you to court if he thinks he stands a chance of winning. Do consult a lawyer before telling him that last piece, though. In my country, you would almost certainly win, but your laws may vary.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.