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Another heatwave! How to manage employees when temperatures soar.

The longest day of the year is already here! Which, in fact, gives you more time to ponder how you will deal with this seemingly unprecedented sunshine. We are British, and far more comfortable moaning about the rain than dealing with the sun. This makes the following events which are likely to unfold within your workforce oh so predictable.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Are you prone to falling for the maximum temperature myth? We’ve all thought or heard ‘it’s too hot to work, you have to send us home’. But the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 state a reasonable temperature must be maintained at work. There is no mention of a maximum! In this weather you need to carry out a risk assessment. This should look at the environment, type of work being carried out and the impact on any staff with particular needs – such as a pregnant employee.  You should then address any issues. For example could outside workers start earlier or later to avoid the noon day sun?
  • Faced with employees arguing that wearing a low-cut dress and flipflops will keep them cool when it’s ‘too hot’? It is definitely time to relax the dress code a little, but standards of decency must be maintained. So no very short skirts or shorts. We suggest casual, smart, loose-fitting clothing, and a temporary relaxing of suits and ties so that the company image is maintained.  People do silly things in the sun, so watch out for staff failing to wear protective clothing to keep cool. It is not cool to land in hospital! High-factor suncream for those working outside seems a sensible approach.
  • Is your fan just another object in the office which blends in but remains untouched? Use it, and try keeping blinds closed, moving people away from direct sunlight and having the windows open. Have plenty of cold water available so staff remain hydrated.
  • Jumping to conclusions regarding an employee’s sickness absence on a hot sunny day could be unfair. The warm weather generally increases the risk of sickness, especially sunstroke or hayfever. As we always recommend, you should carry out a return-to-work interview.
  • Small gestures can go a long way. Why not use the summer months as an opportunity to boost morale? Simply buying your employees each an ice cream, or a cold canned drink at lunch could boost staff morale. It may even make them see you as the best manager ever! A great, easy motivational tool to have at hand when you catch a slump in performance.

Although some employees may believe a bit of sun relaxes the workplace rules, you need to manage consistently and fairly. If you require support, The HR Dept is here to help. Contact your local office today.

  • Anne Taylor

    Think someone needs to tell our Directors they can’t wear shorts!