It’s Far Too Hot to Work!

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maximum working temperature office
With hot weather across the UK, we’re hearing from clients facing issues with staff complaining that it’s “too hot” to work, calling in sick and making last-minute requests to take holiday. Here are some questions we’ve received and some tips on how to respond…..

What is the maximum temperature you can expect someone to work in?
  • Rather oddly there is no maximum workplace stipulated in the legislation – simply saying that workplace temperatures must be “reasonable” and it will be up to the employer to decide what is reasonable in their particular circumstances.
  • Treat all complaints seriously.
  • Some will be quite happy to work in the heat, but others may find it difficult – consider whether they could temporarily sit near a door or window for increased ventilation.
  • Make sure you have a plentiful supply of drinking water and how about offering ice creams to everyone? Encourage employees to drink water frequently to avoid dehydration.
  • Could employees temporarily work from home?
Do we have to provide suntan lotion for our outdoor workers?
  • There is no requirement in the legislation to provide sun tan cream. However, you do have a duty as an employer to your staff and we all know how harmful too much sun can be to the skin. Anyone exposed to high levels of sunlight must be careful, particularly those with fairer skin so encourage them to keep covered up and why not offer some high factor sun tan lotion.
  • You could perhaps provide hats with a flap that covers the back of the neck.
  • Can they work in the shade during the hottest part of the day?
  • Again, make sure they have access to plenty of cool water to remain hydrated
Several employees have asked to take a few days of holiday – do we have to agree?
  • If you have rules about the length of notice you require for holiday to be booked, then stick to those.
  • If you don’t have specific company rules on this subject, then stick to the Working Time Regulations which state than an employee must give twice as much notice as the length of holiday they are wishing to book.
Some of our employees are wearing next to nothing in this hot weather. How do we deal with that?
  • What is deemed “appropriate” by one person may not be the same as another person. However, provided you use the same standards for both male and female employees, then you should be okay.
  • Speak to the individuals concerned and explain to them why you consider their dress is unsuitable for the workplace, compare what they are wearing with what others are wearing carrying out a similar role and ask them to modify their attire.
  • Deal with the issues sensitively.
  • If they persist and you have requested a reasonable modification in what they are wearing, you could take disciplinary action as a last resort.

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