Summer HR Policies

When the May Bank Holiday is over it feels as though Summer is just around the corner.

It’s a time of year that many of us look forward to; planning holidays, a change in wardrobe and the therapeutic feeling of sunshine on our skin.

However, for a business owner, these summertime joys can feel more like a nightmare; juggling tasks whilst members of staff are off, a little bit too much flesh being displayed and soaring temperatures making working conditions uncomfortable.

Whilst it’s not possible for these stresses to disappear, it is possible to assuage them by having clear policies set out in the employee handbook.

Summer HR Policies

Summer HR Policies

Annual Leave, Dress Code, Severe Weather

Annual Leave Policy

Your Annual Leave Policy needs to deal with a number of key areas, including:

  1. Statutory rights to employee leave – what is their entitlement?
  2. Holiday notice periods – what is the minimum period to give?
  3. How is that notice given? – written, verbally or through online applications
  4. How the business plans for annual leave
  5. Effective tracking and approval of annual leave
  6. Maximum amount of leave that can be taken at one time
  7. Fixed periods where the employer can stipulate when leave is taken
  8. The right of the employer to refuse annual leave
  9. How leave can be accrued and how much of the entitlement can be accrued
  10. What happens when sickness coincides with annual leave
  11. Parental leave entitlement and annual leave
  12. Unused annual leave when employment is severed
  13. How annual leave and bank holidays are pro-rated for part time staff

Dress Code Policy

The dress code might depend on your industry. The official dress code may need to be relaxed during hot weather, in which case your employees need to be completely clear about what is and isn’t acceptable. For example T-shirts and flip flops may not be acceptable, but polo shirts and deck shoes are acceptable. These guidelines need to be clear and understood.

Other considerations for your Dress Code policy are:

  1. Do ensure that it applies to both men and women, although they may have differing requirements
  2. That there is no unlawful discrimination of any kind
  3. That your workers are properly protected in their environment
  4. Suitable allowances are made for people with disabilities
  5. Allowances are made for certain occasions

More information on Dress Code Policy.

Severe (hot) Weather Policy

Your severe weather policy will apply to both extremes; hot and cold. The following applies to severe hot weather (should we experience it!):

1. Whilst there is a guideline for minimum temperature of 16˚C or 13˚C if the work is physical, when it come to maximum temperature, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

2. Well what is reasonable? Especially as people are affected differently by temperature. At what point should you conduct an assessment of the situation?

The Health & Safety Executive suggest that:

  • For air conditioned offices – if more than 10% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • For naturally ventilated offices – if more than 15% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • For retail businesses, warehouses, factories and all other indoor environments that may not have air conditioning– if more than 20% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • In short, you should take adequate steps to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature. This could be as simple as making sure there are enough fans to go around the office.
  • Purchase your fans before the hot weather comes! When you need them they’ll be either out of stock or too large (or too small) for the job.

3. Encourage your employees to drink plenty of water. Do you have a water machine? Perhaps it would be a good time to invest in one before the hot weather arrives. Keeping hydrated will help to keep productivity levels up.

4. The beautiful sunny weather can be the cause of increased absenteeism. For some the temptation is to turn the weekend into a sunny long weekend. How do you tackle this problem?

If you do not have a company handbook or feel that your handbook should be reviewed and updated, please contact us on 01737 336 336 or email

Severe Weather Policy

Be prepared for unsettled weather

Who knows what type of weather we shall experience this winter but it pays to be prepared. And in our world of HR that means having a Severe Weather Policy in place.

Whether we experience chaos caused by high winds or disruption brought by a blanket of snow, you’d be wise to be prepared for the disturbance that bad weather can bring to your business. In this event your employees need to be aware of what to do.

Communication is key. Do your employees know what to do if they can’t get into work because of extreme weather conditions?

But there’s more to consider as an employer than clear lines of communication. What about pay? What about flexible working? What about the temperature in the office?

Our tips and advice are designed to help you prepare ahead for the severe weather when it inevitably arrives.

  • Having a Severe Weather policy in place is a great start. It will explain to employees what to do on days of severe weather.
  • Pay – this subject always comes with different opinions:
    • If you decide to close the office then the employee has a right to be paid. Failure to pay can result in a claim for breach of contract, unless the employment contract has a clause which entitles the employee to be laid off without pay.
    • Employees cannot be forced to take unpaid holiday, unless this is written into the employment contract. If you would like employees to take time off as holiday then this needs to be agreed beforehand.
    • Employees are not automatically entitled to get paid if they cannot make it into work.
  • Employees should not be put at risk when commuting to work. They should not feel pressurised to risk their own safety and should not be forced to attempt the journey if it is disrupted.
  • Keep an eye on the weather report and recommend employees to allow extra time for their commute.
  • Consider working hours and place of work. Can this be adapted i.e. different hours or working from home?
  • Consider how the cold weather can impact the workplace. The office should be kept at 16 degrees Celsius.
  • Talk to your employees. Come to an arrangement before the severe weather arrives.
  • Employees have the right to emergency unpaid leave to look after their children or other dependents in a crisis situation e.g. a child’s school being closed at short notice due to severe weather. (Extreme weather conditions can be seen as an emergency situation.)
  • Make sure you have current contact details for your employees and your employees have contact details to contact their work.
  • One option could be for the employee to make time up at a different date and still get paid their salary.

If you would like us to help you create a severe weather policy to include in your employee handbook contact us on 01737 336336 or email me.