iLaw shares employment advice as temperatures soar

With temperatures set to reach the mid-30s this week, employers need to think about the safety and comfort of staff.

Julian Cox, Head of Employment at iLaw, said: “The coming week looks like it’s going to be one of the hottest weeks on record, with temperatures in parts of the UK set to soar to 37 degrees.

“Although there are very specific rules about minimum temperatures, the UK does not have any guidance on what is the maximum temperature at which employees are expected to work.

“Unions, such as the TUC, have tried to encourage upper limits as well for indoor work environments but so far to no avail and this may not be practical for some types of work, where higher temperatures are required for the manufacturing process.

“Getting hot in a stuffy office or while working out on a construction site or while driving can cause drowsiness, loss of concentration and in the most severe cases heat stroke, which can lead to higher instances of absenteeism and accidents.

“Employers, although not bound by law to do so, should consider what steps they can take to ensure staff remain safe and healthy during this heatwave.”

Julian added that the iLaw team, which are based in London, have already relaxed their dress code so that it is appropriate for the hot weather and is encouraging other employers to follow suit.

iLaw’s top five tips for employers:

  • Be flexible – Employers should consider offering more flexible working patterns where practical, including offering the option to work from home, where staff may feel more comfortable.
  • Relax dress codes – As the mercury rises employers should, where appropriate, encourage staff to wear more loose-fitting clothing. This doesn’t mean flip flops and shorts but could mean removing the need to wear a tie and jacket and allowing for cooler cotton clothing.
  • Monitor staff health – Employers should take extra care to make sure staff members are hydrated and are not getting too hot. This can be as simple as just spending more time talking with staff and making sure they are OK. Remember, employers must provide staff with suitable drinking water in the workplace.
  • Provide fans or air conditioning – Although this may prove costly, it could drastically improve the performance of employees and make them feel ‘cared for’ which can be important in retaining talent.
  • Think outside the box – Depending on the size of the businesses think about what additional steps you can take to be a stand out employer. Maybe get someone to do an ice cream run or learn from other hot nations and offer a longer break during the hottest hours of the day.