What are the single-sex toilets rules as new law required in restaurants and offices?

The law only applies to England
Martin Keene / PA
Nuray Bulbul3 minutes ago

The Government is proposing new rules that will mandate the provision of single-sex restrooms in all newly constructed pubs, restaurants, offices, and shopping centres.

Only new construction and properties that experience a significant change in use are covered by the law, and it only applies to England.

This comes after 81 per cent of respondents in a consultation on the proposals agreed "with the intention for separate single-sex toilet facilities", while 82 per cent "agreed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space allows".

It found that gender-neutral restrooms "where users share cubicle and hand-washing facilities", "unfairly disadvantaged" women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

The Government said "This leads to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice, and less privacy and dignity.”

What are the single sex toilets rules?

According to the law, newly constructed non-domestic buildings must provide separate restrooms for men and women. If space is limited, self-contained universal restrooms – a completely enclosed restroom with a sink and hand dryer – must be installed.

These include restaurants, shopping centres, offices and public toilets.

This does not, however, apply to schools, residential homes, ensuite amenities in individual rooms for residential purposes, residential rooms in care homes, cells in correctional institutions, and properties used fully or mostly for early years provision.

Schools must already have separate restrooms for boys and girls who are eight years of age or older, unless the restroom is located in a room that can be locked from the inside and is only meant to be used by one student at a time.

Current buildings are also exempt from the new law.

How will the new law impact transgender people?

Campaigners claim that because they may experience harassment and discrimination in single-sex facilities, transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming individuals would rather use gender-neutral restrooms, and the new rule does not account for this.

Currently, transgender people are allowed to use the restroom of their choice.

However, in 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission stated that, in accordance with the Equality Act, individuals lacking a gender recognition certificate may be denied access to single-sex services or facilities, such as restrooms, if doing so is "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.