How to Support Your Employees During a Heatwave

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“For the first time on record temperatures in the UK have exceeded 40 degrees C,” opened a bulletin from the Met Office on 19th July.

With the first Red Extreme Heat warning covering parts of England, and a larger Amber Extreme Heat warning covering much of the rest of the UK, employers were advised to introduce a range of supportive measures for their staff.

When does it become too hot to work?

In the UK, there are no laws governing what temperature a workplace should be.  The HSE advises a minimum temperature of “at least 16 degrees Celsius” but suggests that employers must determine “what reasonable comfort will be in particular circumstances.”

How should employers approach working in extreme temperatures?

The HSE states that a suitable risk assessment must be carried out under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and that “the temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should address to meet their legal obligations.”

Companies should also consult with their employees or representatives, in order to determine what reasonable levels of support should be provided when the mercury rises.

What should employers do to support their employees in the heat?

Along with others, the GMB union has called for a maximum working temperature to be enshrined in law, and that employers should at the very least consider relaxing dress codes, and provide “proper hydration.”

The CIPD urges employers to implement flexible working arrangements that allow people to work from home, or “stagger their start and finish times to avoid travelling at peak rush hour.”

In their run-down of expert guidance, People Management magazine asks that employers do not jump to conclusions about their employees’ reasons for absence if taking time off sick on extremely hot days. 

They also advise that employers should be mindful of employees with health conditions, or those who are vulnerable.

For further guidance about how to support your employees – whatever the weather – please contact our friendly team at Viridian HR.

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