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How to manage the workforce in a Heatwave

A heatwave is expected to arrive over the British Isles, bringing temperatures in line with our continental neighbours like Spain and Portugal – though it may get a lot hotter. Although many you will be thinking about BBQs and visiting the beach, some unlucky folks will be stuck in work.

Employers should be aware of the potential effects of the heatwave on their employees. Employees at work may be at risk of suffering from heat exhaustion, dehydration, heatstroke all of which can be life threatening.  In addition to these risks, high temperatures can also cause lethargy and loss of concentration, increasing the chances of accidents at work. 

It is important for employers, as part of their duty of care towards their employees to take steps to minimise the potential risk. 

Steps to take:

  • Ensure airflow through the building is sufficient
  • Where possible, open windows and doors or provide fans
  • Consider increasing rest breaks to allow employee to grab fresh air and cool drinks
  • If possible, consider alternative shift patterns or working hours ie earlier start and finish times
  • If possible, introduce a comfort zone where the temperature can be controlled and allow managed access to it
  • Relax the dress code, within reason. To avoid employees dressing inappropriately you should issue guidelines or a dress code 
  • Investigate the possibility of alternative working environments. eg. Another office, home, outside
  • Pay particular attention to those at higher risk i.e. pregnant or older employees

Point to Remember

Ensure you have an effective sickness absence policy to manage those employees who seem to have ‘pulled a sickie’ to make the most of the red hot temperature whilst it lasts.

It may now be a good time to remind employees about the formal procedure for requesting holiday, reporting sickness and the disciplinary policy applicable when it comes to dealing with those who take unauthorised absence.

As always if I can provide you with any further assistance on any of the employee issues identified above, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation on 0113 350 4030 or samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk.


Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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