What are the legal / best practices for businesses when it comes to their teams?
The British weather does not generally result in extreme temperatures but what about when this does happen and the team find themselves working in a hot environment?
What is the maximum temperature a workplace can be?
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that your employer must maintain a reasonable temperature where you work, but it does not specify a maximum temperature. There is a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°Cif your work involves considerable physical activity.
What steps can be taken?
Employers are not legally obliged to provide air conditioning in workplaces. Instead they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures as outline in the law above.
In that respect the steps, which, employers can take, will vary from employer to employer but practical steps might include turning on air conditioning if it is available or using blinds or curtains to block out sunlight.
However, employers must provide employees with suitable drinking water in the workplace. There is no requirement that the water is chilled.
Can my boss tell me what to wear?
Yes, employers are allowed to tell their workers to dress in a particular way in the workplace, regardless of what the weather is like outside. This might be written into a contract or an employee handbook.
Although men in the workplace might feel unfairly treated if they are required to wear a tie the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that requiring men to wear a collar and tie did not necessarily amount to sex discrimination if that was the only way of achieving equal levels of smartness for men and women.
While employers are under no obligation to relax their dress code or uniform requirements during hot weather, some may allow workers to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days. Such days allow staff to dress more temperature appropriately and can be a useful way of bolstering morale.
As temperature rise; so can tempers.
Employers should be sympathetic to their employee’s needs but equally employees need to remember that they are getting paid by their employer to work – even if it is uncomfortable.
At Consensus HR we advise our customers on these odd occasions when the weather is very hot to discuss the issues with the team and see if there is anyway of making the working environment more comfortable such as purchasing fans if they have none or getting some bottles of water put into the office for everyone to drink or even if its possible and members of the team wish to, take the afternoon off as holiday.
By discussing the issue with everyone, you can generally find a suitable solution that ensures the business continues to run but demonstrates that the business understands the implications of the heat and will try to ensure reasonably measures are taken.