Here in the South West (and most of the UK) the temperatures have been soaring. It’s wonderful to see the sunshine but as with all adverse weather conditions it can also create some issues in the workplace. As an employer, it is best to be prepared and know what your legal obligations are when it comes to hot weather in the workplace.
The Legal bit
As an employer you have a legal obligation to provide a working environment within a ‘reasonable temperature’. This depends on the nature of the work conducted and conditions of the workplace.
Interestingly, the law does not set a maximum working temperature, but it is recommended a minimum of 16 degrees Celsius (if work involves physical efforts it’s 13 degrees Celsius). However, employers are required to conduct an assessment of the risks that affect health and safety of their employees – temperature is an item that needs to be considered here.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to keeping your workplace, workable in the hot weather:
Air conditioning and Ventilation
You may have an air conditioning unit already, be sure to check this is working with regular services. When air conditioning is in operation, communicate to your staff it’s on so that windows remain closed and the unit can function most effectively. If you don’t have built in air conditioning – there are mobile air conditioning units which can be hired for a period of time. Additionally, cooler fans, and desk fans will all help keep the workplace cool and air circulating.
If you don’t have built in air conditioning nor the space to hire a unit, the traditional – windows open approach will certainly help keep the office well ventilated. Where necessary, pull down blinds when the sun is at its peak.
Water (and ice creams)
Sounds simple but keeping you and your teams fully hydrated in this weather is very important. If you have a water cooler, check your supplies to ensure you have enough to last the hot period. Encourage your team to take additional water/refreshment breaks.
A fun, slightly unhealthy, suggestion could be to offer a weekly ice-cream run – helping boost morale in the hot weather.
Local Bristol architect firm, Make, have a relaxed dress code – allowing flip flops at client meetings. Flip flops may not be appropriate, or indeed safe in many organisations but where possible be mindful to your employees and consider relaxing your dress code for the hot season. It’s important to ensure you are fair and not discriminating between men and women. To an extent, dress code does vary depending on the business – whether uniforms are required, whether it’s safe to wear less clothing etc. We would recommend having something within your employee handbook specifying the dress code in order to manage expectations. Get in touch if you need help with this!
We all know the importance of sun cream, but it’s easy to forget to apply when we are out of habit. Consider providing a bottle of sun cream in the bathrooms for employees to apply as and when required.
Despite there not being a specific maximum temperature legally stated, the logic is there, if it’s too hot for you – it’s too hot for your staff. We all know productivity levels decline when we are hot, and tired.
If you have any questions about this or have any other suggestions on how to manage the heat, we would love to hear from you. Please do get in touch with us direct: CitrusHR Consulting, call us on 0844 854 6704 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org