According to The Guardian, couriers claim Government laws stipulating that people making deliveries should continue to have access to toilets during the pandemic have been widely flouted by food outlets that are currently restricted to offering delivery and takeaway services only.
Instances where toilets were locked or barricaded off have been highlighted by the couriers who described the situation as humiliating, unhealthy, discriminatory against female couriers, and unjust given how much money they are making for restaurants.
One male courier in Southampton told The Guardian: “I’ve asked KFC, Subway and McDonald’s and I’ve never been allowed to use their customer toilets during lockdown.
"It’s like being treated as a second-rate human.”
Meanwhile, a female courier operating in north London said: “As a woman I can hardly just pop behind the bins like the lads, and besides, that’s illegal, unsanitary and disgusting.
"This whole situation is humiliating, degrading and unhealthy and it’s affecting my income – I’ve only been able to book single three-and-half-hour shift because there’s no guarantee I’ll find a loo, I can’t risk booking in for a six-hour shift.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated that denying couriers access to toilets is unlawful.
“Any prevention of a driver to access welfare facilities is a breach of law, but more importantly is not the decent thing to do," said the Government agency.
"Failure to allow access to welfare facilities increases the risk of failing to control the virus.
"Drivers should remind those in control of the premises they visit of the legal requirement.”
The chains deny the problem is widespread, but have agreed to remind outlets of the law.
Some have also apologised to couriers.
McDonald’s, Nando’s, KFC and Subway all said drivers should have access to toilet facilities in their restaurants and they would be reminding their stores that this was the case.
Wagamama, which was also implicated in The Guardian's report, stated it was company policy to allow couriers access to toilets.