Civil servants have been limited to spending a maximum of ten minutes in the toilets – after timers were installed.
Dozens of workers have been caught out since the cost-cutting measures were introduced at the Government Office for the West Midlands (GOWM).
A hidden sensor switches off the toilet light after ten minutes of use.
Staff have condemned the GOWM for the move, which was introduced in a bid to help save millions of pounds.
One worker at the offices in Birmingham said: ”This was brought in without any staff consultation and is both humiliating and degrading.
”Timers have been installed on the lights in the toilets, but everyone was already complying with requests to switch the lights off as we left.
”Can you imagine the indignity of being in a cubicle, letting nature take its course, when suddenly the lights go out, and you have to fumble in the dark to make yourself decent, before struggling to make your way out towards the main door to the toilets where the switch is?
”All the while you are praying someone doesn’t enter the toilets and see you struggling in the dark with your trousers round your ankles.
”This is an undignified and unsafe practice, implemented in a misguided attempt to save cash and energy.”
Similar changes are expected to be rolled out around the country to meet Treasury targets for Whitehall departments to make “efficiency savings” worth £11 billion a year.
The GOWM is in charge of delivering Whitehall’s policies on Health, Justice and Education in the Midlands, and reports back to Westminster on the region’s needs.
A spokeswoman for the government office defended their toilet light switches insisting they save money and energy.
She said: ”We have introduced a range of measures across Government Office buildings to reduce avoidable energy consumption and we are continuing with that work.
”The introduction of sensor switches has not raised comments from staff or visitors and we will continue to explore ways in which to reduce further our carbon footprint.”
Fiona McEvoy, West Midlands Spokeswoman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ”What planet are GOWM bosses living on if they think installing this ridiculous device equates to an efficiency saving?
”At best this is an inconvenience for staff, at worst it’s a hazard and a ludicrous waste of public money.
”Perhaps executives at GOWM haven’t enough to do if they’ve been dreaming up ways of making savings that look more like schoolboy pranks.”
Source: Telegraph, 29 Mar 2010