robbryanassociates

Heatwave help: keep your team comfortable & productive

In business principles, health and safety on July 18, 2022 at 9:49 am

As record-breaking heatwave conditions sweep across the country, employers need to be prepared to manage their employees in the heat. Here are a few tips to keep your staff comfortable and productive during a heatwave:

  • Allow for more frequent breaks, and make sure employees have access to plenty of water.
  • Move outdoor work to cooler hours if possible, or provide shade for workers who have to be outside during the day.
  • If possible, let employees work from home or take advantage of any cooling amenities that may be available, such as air conditioning or fans.
  • Encourage employees to dress comfortably in light, loose clothing.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of heat stress, such as dizziness, headaches, or nausea.  If someone does start to feel unwell, move them to a cool area and seek medical help if necessary. Some employees may have conditions that make them more susceptible to heat-related illness.
  • Be aware of potential disruption your employees may have to deal with such as school closures or travel delays.

This kind of heat is exceptional for the UK and will pass; by next week we’ll probably be complaining about the rain! However, in the next days, everyone’s safety and well-being must be the top consideration.

Stress Awareness

In absence, business principles, health and safety on June 20, 2022 at 11:40 am

April was stress awareness month, although, of course, stress can occur at any time throughout the year. As an employer, it’s good to check in on your own stress levels and that of your employees.

It’s not practical to ask every employee if they are stressed and it probably would not give you any real insight into how they really feel; some people hide that they are struggling through fear of seeming incapable and would not want to share this with the boss.

Another way to help with stress in the workplace is to have regular 121’s with your employees. This is essential to keep communication flowing and an opportunity to get an update on work progress and any issues the employee may be experiencing.

Work-related stress can be the result of different causes and with low staffing and absences, those who are in work are often covering for others and may have increased workloads. Without the right support they are at risk of stress. Communicate regularly with your employees, show appreciation for those working hard to keep the business operational. Remind them of the importance of taking a break.

Another good option to help support employees is to have an Employee Assistance Programme. Health Assured are one provider we have worked with.

A Health Assured EAP is considered a strong and cost-effective measure in promoting a healthy mind, body and financially sound workforce. They are becoming very popular with employers as a way to give a welfare benefit to employees. Some of the services are:

  • A true 24/7, 365 in the moment support by a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) accredited counsellors.
  • Up to 6 or 8 sessions of structured telephone, online or face to face counselling sessions, per issue, per year
  • Unlimited access to their very own in-house – legal, financial and medical support teams
  • Active Care- Day 1 intervention for stress-related absences
  • Access to the online portal and mobile app- My Health Advantage offering self-help guides, health checks and 4 week programmes to stay healthy in mind, body and financial state.
  • Work Health Assessments for incoming new members of staff and night worker personnel to receive the required health screening before commencing employment and working outside of daylight hours.

Premiums start from £500 ex VAT based on agreement for up to 57 staff as well as their immediate family members (spouse, partner and dependants 16-24 years old).

This could well be a positive benefit to introduce to employees if you do not already have one. If you are interested please contact your consultant who can provide more information.

If you would like to know more about this topic contact Rob Bryan Associates – 01462 732444 / rob@robertbryan.co.uk

Summer Q and A’s

In business principles, discipline and grievance, Employment law, health and safety, holiday on June 20, 2022 at 11:23 am

With the hottest day of the year last week, summer is well and truly underway. But as much as the sun puts a smile on our faces, hot weather can cause issues in the workplace. Here are some of the questions we get asked about summer-time working:   

1. Is it too hot to work?

You may hear from employees, “it’s too hot to work, you have to send us home.” However, the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 state a reasonable temperature must be maintained at work. There is no mention of a maximum! Keep staff cool by allowing them to switch on fans and air conditioning or ‘dress down’ on hotter days if possible. Could outside workers start earlier or later to avoid the midday sun?

2. How do I look after vulnerable employees in extreme weather?

Are any of your employees pregnant or do they have a disability? They may be more affected by hot weather. Have a discussion with them – you may be able to help by allowing them to work in a cooler area, take more frequent breaks, or work from home temporarily.

For some employees, hot weather may exacerbate medical conditions. Don’t jump to conclusions regarding an employee’s sickness absence on a hot sunny day as they may have sunstroke or severe hayfever. We always recommend that you should carry out a return-to-work interview.

3. What about home workers in hot weather?

There’s no expectation that you should install air conditioning in your employees’ homes! However, they should have the same rights as those working in the office. For example, more vulnerable staff should take more breaks, even when working remotely.

Check in with homeworkers and encourage them to put in place measures to keep cool and hydrated – such as ventilation, keeping blinds closed, drinking plenty of water, taking breaks.

If staff working from home feel that the temperature is unreasonable they should speak to their manager about what arrangements can be made.

4. How do I manage holiday requests?

As the sun comes out thoughts turn to holidays. Now is a good time to remind employees of your holiday policies and procedures.

Your mechanisms for handling holiday requests are important, ensuring operational cover and communicating the need for approval before bookings are made and how conflicting requests will be treated i.e., first come first served, or alternating priority for popular periods. Good holiday policies will also consider cancellations, travel disruptions on returning, and what would happen if sickness overlapped with holiday.

5. What do I do if I think my employee is ‘pulling a sickie’ to enjoy the sun?

Employees who are refused a holiday request may take the time off anyway. Alternatively, you may suspect a member of staff is ‘pulling a sickie’ so that they can take advantage of the good weather.

Don’t jump to conclusions – conduct a full investigation into the absence. From here, it may become a disciplinary issue.

6. What if there is travel disruption?

Trains may travel slower in hot weather to prevent the tracks from buckling, or there may be traffic jams due to holidaymakers or tourists.

Employees should also be encouraged to plan ahead for their journeys where it is known that this is likely to be a problem and make allowances for delays.

If you would like to know more about this topic contact Rob Bryan Associates – 01462 732444 / rob@robertbryan.co.uk