It’s Hot in the City….!.

By Andrew Knorpel on 2nd July 2015

As we sizzle from June into July, here are some Hot Tips for you to ensure your employees stay cool in the office:

1. Is your employee’s outfit more suited to the beach than the boardroom? Now is a good time to review that dress code policy ensuring that it relates to your business and does not discriminate unlawfully. Dress codes need to strike a fair balance between not being too restrictive, whilst at the same time practical. Dress code policies should be communicated to all staff and applied consistently to avoid any claims of discrimination. Do remember that recent case law shows that employees should be entitled to wear items that demonstrate their faith (such as a head scarf or a cross symbol), unless there are good health & safety reasons for requiring a particular alternative standard of dress.

2. Time to pull the perfect ‘sickie’? With some employees “distracted” by the sunshine outside, employers must remember to remain consistent with their treatment of absences. Ensure that absences are monitored closely. If an employee fails to provide a good reason for their absence, this will be ‘unauthorised’ and should be investigated as possible misconduct. It can also be ‘misconduct’ where an employee makes false statements about their ‘sickness’. However, this can be difficult to prove. Don’t make assumptions just because it is a scorching sunny day – you should investigate fully (sometimes social media gives the game away!), follow your disciplinary procedure and act consistently.

3. Hot in here! Although there is no legal minimum temperature for a workplace, health & safety guidance states that a reasonable minimum indoor temperature is considered to be at least 16°C or 13°C if much of the work is physical. There is no guidance to a maximum temperature. Workplace temperatures should be reasonable and that will depend very much on the work activity and the environmental conditions. Bear in mind, if you have different environments in your workplace ie. office and warehouse, there will be different health & safety requirements for each. If a certain number of employees start to complain about the temperature, you should carry out additional risk assessments http://www.hse.gov.uk/index.htm You should note that your liability in respect of health & safety also extends to employment law. If you terminate their employment and the employee claims unfair dismissal for reasons connected with health & safety, they do not need the ordinary two year qualifying period in order to bring the claim and any compensation awarded will be uncapped. Also don’t forget that there are special duties that apply in respect of new or expectant mothers in the workplace! http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/docs/pregnant-workers-flow-chart.pdf

In summary, dust down your policies, ensure they are relevant to your business needs and make sure you apply them consistently!

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