When the Weather Gets Hot…

Anyone for tennis?!

Okay, I’m well aware that at the moment everyone is talking about football and the World Cup, but my minds already turned to strawberries and cream, a pint of Pims and Wimbledon!

And along with that comes the sunshine; at least we hope that it does! Sunshine means heat, which can have an impact on your staff and your business.

As an employer you have a responsibility for the wellbeing of your staff whilst in working hours. Employees need to be aware of the policies and procedures that apply when we are experiencing extremes of temperature.

The aspects to consider cover Health and Safety, Dress Code and Absenteeism.

I have complied my top tips to help you deal with HR matters that might arise due to extreme heat.

  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:

    1. For air conditioned offices – if more than 10% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
    2. For naturally ventilated offices – if more than 15% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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. Do you have a dress code policy? If you don’t maybe you should. The dress code will 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 be unacceptable but polo shirts and deck shoes are acceptable. You need to be very clear and the guidelines need to be understood.
  5. 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?