It’s Getting HOT! HOT! HOT!.

By Andrew Knorpel on 11th August 2016

Forecasters are predicting a rapid warm up over the next five days with temperatures expected to hit a sizzling peak just after the weekend. The mercury is apparently poised to soar above 30ºC, breaking 2003 summer record of 38.5ºC. With a potential sizzling heatwave around the corner coupled with Rio beckoning, here are our Hot Tips on summer staff management:

1. Temperature: Acas have recently published a (short) guidance on Working Temperature. As there is no legal requirement regarding minimum or maximum temperatures, the employer should determine what is reasonable in the particular circumstances. Regardless of the soaring temperature outside, Acas suggests a minimum temperature of at least 16ºC for a general office environment. Listen to your staff and keep an eye on the mercury.
2. Dress Codes: dust down the dress code policy – check if it refers to hot weather. If it does not, consider whether it may be appropriate to vary the policy in light of changing weather. For instance, it may be possible to relax the dress code for office based staff when they are not meeting customers. Ensure you are clear whether you are making permanent changes to the policy (ie. allowing for particularly hot weather) or applying a one-off discretion due to the unexpected hot weather. You should still provide clear guidance on what is acceptable attire, bearing in mind appropriateness in the workplace and general health and safety (ie.no flip flops). Ensure the staff are appropriately informed and any change or discretion is applied consistently.
3. Absences: whether your employee has decided to bask in the sunshine or catch up with events from Rio, ensure you monitor any absences closely if they are not at work when they should be. If you suspect they are pulling a sickie, ensure you investigate thoroughly. In the recent case of Ajaj v Metroline West Limited, the EAT stated that employees who ‘pull a sickie’ when they are not sick, are dishonest and if this is found to be the case, employees can be dismissed fairly for misconduct after following due procedure.
4. Sickness on leave: check whether your sickness policy adequately covers what happens if your employee gets sick during their time on leave. Employees can claim their annual leave back, but you should ensure you have adequate procedures in place to prevent any abuse. For instance, you could require them to report their sickness and obtainl evidence from local medical specialists before any annual leave can be clawed back.
5. Holiday pay: if your employees are taking holiday, ensure you pay them the correct pay. Acas have recently published guidance on calculating holiday pay. This was also previously covered in our bulletin. The essential principle is that an employee should not be dissuaded from taking holiday on the basis that if they did so they would not be paid their normal pay.

In summary: ensure you have adequately provided for hot weather in your existing policies, be flexible and update where necessary. Enjoy the holiday season!

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