In the UK there is no legal limit to what the temperature should be in the workplace, instead the HSE states that, “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”. A reasonable temperature will depend on the working environment and the work being done.
When getting to work, high temperatures should not affect employees when traveling by car. However, High temperatures can affect public transport such as trains. Train companies usually slow trains down during periods of hot weather due to the train tracks. Tracks are particularly susceptible to extreme heat, as it can cause them to buckle, they can reach up to 20°C more than the air temperature. In this instance, employees traveling by train should be aware of the disruption and plan this in into their morning commute where possible. An Adverse Weather Policy should also be put in place by the company to ensure that there is fair treatment of the employee should problems occur when commuting.
For businesses that have strict dress codes it is worth considering relaxing them during periods of hot weather, or if this is not possible allowing employees to arrive and leave in casual wear. This will affect employees’ comfort levels, particularly in a workplace that would ordinarily require staff to wear formal clothing or a uniform.
Employers are not under a legal obligation to relax dress codes during these periods, but most are likely to consider it a reasonable and simple step to take during extreme heat.
Employees are increasingly interested in the environment in a way not previously noted. Employees are becoming increasingly concerned about waste, sustainability and carbon emissions. A lot of employees are now putting pressure on Employers to make their business more sustainable. HR should be at the forefront of creating a more sustainable working area by implementing an environmental policy to make sure the business is as sustainable as it possibly can be.
It is important for your organisation to be flexible when it comes to warm weather. If there is no air-conditioning available, consider using fans, this will increase morale and productivity among employees. A slight relaxation of the dress code should be implemented where possible for employees to feel cooler and more relaxed while working. Finally, be aware of the long-term issues surrounding hot weather such as climate change. Ensure you have an environmental policy as well as an adverse weather policy to help with any issues when dealing with hot weather.