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13 July 2022 

An amber weather warning has been put in place for large parts of the UK due to soaring temperatures. In particular, on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July 2022, places could see temperatures hit 36 degrees! As such, employers should prepare for the issues the hot weather can cause in the workplace.

Summer issues for employers and how to deal with them

1. Keep everyone cool!

Whilst the law does not say how hot or cold your workplace should be, temperatures need to be ‘reasonable’.

Keep staff cool by allowing them to switch on fans and air conditioning or ‘dress down’ on hotter days if possible.

2. Remember more vulnerable workers

Some members of staff may be more affected by hot weather, such as those with a disability or pregnant women.

You can help by allowing these employees to take more breaks, move to cooler areas or even work from home temporarily.

3. Prepare for transport disruption

Hot weather can cause issues in the daily commute and you should try to be more understanding if staff are late for work. For example, trains may go slower to prevent tracks from buckling.

Employees should also be encouraged to plan ahead of their journeys and make allowances for delays.

4. Be ready for holiday requests

Everyone can’t be off at once and leave requests are likely to overlap, for instance during the school summer holidays.

It is a good idea to have a first-come, first-served system in place. That way, you can help to avoid one employee being prioritised over another.

5. Look out for unauthorised time off

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’.

It is important not to jump to conclusions and conduct a full investigation into the absence. From here, it may become a disciplinary issue.

6. Check on your homeworkers

You aren't expected to install air conditioning in your employees' homes, but 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.

7. Factor in time off for dependants 

Some nurseries are expected to close due to high temperatures creating an unsafe environment for children. As such, employees may need to take emergency time off for dependants to make alternative childcare arrangements. 

Employers who temporarily close should consider how they will manage staff. With correct notice, some may be able to enforce annual leave. However, others may need to review existing lay off clauses and assess whether these apply to the situation, or maintain full pay for the period of closure.