It’s Getting Hot in Here
Summer has finally arrived in full force…
How many times over the past weeks have you said the word, ‘hot’?
We have experienced unusually high temperatures, hitting 38 degrees in some places. If the news is anything to go by, this type of weather may become more frequent.
A heatwave can have a massive impact on the workforce, and staff are going to struggle to be productive in such soaring temperatures.
What can you do to help your employees?
There is no upper limit to the temperature of a workplace environment (there is a minimum!), the law (The Workplace (Health, Safety, Welfare) Regulations 1992 (specifically in relation to indoor workspaces)) and guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) helpfully state the temperature has to be ‘reasonable’.
This can obviously vary depending on the type of workplace.
To help employees feel more comfortable during a heatwave and thus, maintain a good level of productivity, there are number of considerations an employer could make:
- Allow employees to work more flexibly this can be in terms of hours, times or work location (remember an employee can make a flexible working request if they have been employed for 26 weeks);
- Allow employees to take more frequent, but shorter breaks;
- Relax the dress code so employees can feel more comfortable (of course, this may not always be possible);
- Set up water spots for employees to grab a drink whilst they work;
- Use blinds or curtains to block out the sun.
A heatwave can impact public transport, in particular, it can affect train services. Trains can often be cancelled or delayed, so it may be worth considering employees who may be impacted by this. You could look at whether an employee could come into work later or leave earlier to catch a train (if cancellations are looking likely), or staff could work from home.
It may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment of a workplace to ensure the environment is safe, given the high temperatures.
Employees are generally going to be more energised in the morning so it could be wise to have the more strenuous/demanding work take place in the mornings.
There is no legal obligation for an organisation to have air conditioning in its office spaces; however, it goes without saying that such equipment can be a huge help in dealing with soaring temperatures.
We’ll never moan about the rain again I hear you say!! If you would like any specific advice on this or any other topic, please contact a legal advisor today.