We are currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with a trade union. Two of the items they want to be inserted in the agreement are free drinking water to all the employees and classic new style washrooms which we find to be expensive for the company to bear. We would like to get your views if these demands have any legal backup.
The Occupational Safety and Health (First Aid and Welfare Facilities) Rules, 2015 imposes an obligation on the employer to provide the employees with a lot of welfare facilities at a workplace. Rule 12 of the said Rules obligates the employer to supply the employees with adequate safe and clean drinking water at the workplace. The employer should ensure the employees have adequate cups when drinking water from coolers or containers and not allow the use of shared cups.
Rule 7 imposes an obligation on the employer to provide the employees with sanitary facilities at the workplace. To mention a few, the employer is bound to provide the employees with: (a) water or toilet paper; (b) water closet pan designed to have a seat, with a seat cover; (c) sanitary towel disposal bins for female employees; (d) toilet soap or similar cleansing agent; (e) running hot and cold water or premixed hot and cold water for the washbasins in the cold areas.
The washrooms should have signs outside the entrance indicating the sex of the persons for whom the room is intended. Every washroom should be naturally or artificially ventilated to allow the outside air to hit directly. These requirements might look expensive to the employer but they are statutory. In your case we are not sure what classic new style washrooms means, but normal washrooms as stated above must be provided. The trade union seems to want the obligation to be in the collective bargaining agreement for them to be able to enforce directly.