Q&A  

What are the rules regarding temperature?

What are the rules regarding temperature?

Q. With summer fast approaching, what do I need to know about hot weather in the workplace?

A. As the days get longer and the weather becomes warmer it can cause tensions in the workplace to heat up and productivity levels to fall. 

Employers should be aware that despite popular belief, there is no maximum workplace temperature that, once reached, gives employees the right to be sent home from work. Instead, health and safety legislation simply states workplace temperatures should remain ‘reasonable’.

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This does not mean you should dismiss attempts to moderate workplace temperatures. Employers are encouraged to carry out a risk assessment to determine the specific challenges rising temperatures pose to their own workforce. The potential for risks will likely differ depending on the type of work and the nature of the workplace. Special consideration should also be paid to more vulnerable staff members, including pregnant and disabled employees, who may be disproportionately affected by the heat.

Ignoring temperature complaints from employees could result into these developing into formal grievances. While nearly every employee will have a different idea of what is a comfortable working temperature is, employers can consider amending the office temperature, moving people away from or closer to air conditioning units, or providing desk fans. 

Employers could also relax rules surrounding dress codes and uniforms as formal wear can be particularly uncom-fortable during warmer weather. 

However, those who work in a customer-facing setting may wish to lay down ground rules on suitable clothing to avoid any potential pitfalls.

Summertime temperatures can often increase drastically without much notice, meaning staff may want to book annual leave on short notice to take advantage of the warmer weather. Employers are advised to follow standard holiday booking procedures, including reminding staff of the need to request holidays with sufficient notice to avoid disappointment. 

However, to appease staff and show a level of understanding, some may consider relaxing rules surrounding the number of employees who may be off at any one time. Productivity and morale can take a hit when the weather outside is nice. Inexpensive perks such as providing cold refreshments and ice lollies can help create a fun and jovial atmosphere. Additionally, granting longer lunch breaks and early finishes as performance incentives could also be considered.

Overall, it is important that employers plan accordingly ahead of the summer months. While company approaches may differ, it is vital that employers take a proactive and measured approachto lessen the impact ofrising temperatures. 

 

Peter Done is group managing director at Peninsula