Here in the UK there’s no telling how long warm weather is likely to last. In fact, you often can’t even rely on the weathermen to give you an accurate outlook, so it’s just a case of enjoying it while you can, or if you’re very typically British, hoping and praying that it ends soon.
But there are a couple of things that you CAN guarantee when the temperatures start to soar….
Beer gardens will be packed full of punters. You won’t be able to find any burgers in the supermarkets for love nor money. You’ll be bombarded with leaflets from your local barbecue equipment supplier. And up and down the country, clammy office workers will be throwing open the windows and counting down the minutes until 5pm.
No one wants to be at work when the weather’s glorious outside, but as an employer, what are your responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a comfortable working environment?
Currently, no concrete legislation exists on temperatures at work
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace must be “reasonable”. There is, however, no maximum temperature. What constitutes as reasonable is open to interpretation, but you should consider the nature of your workplace, and the kind of work that is being carried out. It goes without saying that if the temperatures hit the 30s, then workers carrying out manual jobs outside are going to experience discomfort, and you need to consider their general health and wellbeing, as well as reconsidering any performance targets that they might have.
Workplace polices in the UK don’t tend to cover this either
Worrying about warmer weather and the impact that it might have on your workforce is something that we rarely experience in the UK. We’re more likely to have to think about how our staff will get into work if a snowstorm brings the roads to a standstill, or what will happen if the heating packs in during the darkest depths of winter.
But you do need to take the health and comfort of your employees seriously….
The bottom line? Exercise some common sense. Keep the best interests of your staff at the front of your mind. In practical terms, this might mean:
- Introducing air conditioning – although you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t get too cold!
- Turning off lights/electrical appliance when not in use – these can contribute to the heat levels in the office
- Amending the dress code – with a focus on lightweight, breathable clothing
- Supplying desk fans – but make sure they are properly tested and always turned off outside office hours
- Keeping the water cooler topped up – staying hydrated is more crucial then ever when the mercury rises
- And lastly, try and enjoy it while it lasts! – it’s almost definitely not going to last long…
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