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 /

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