Tom Long comments on office dress code during a heatwave
Commenting on the current heatwave, Tom Long
, legal director and employment lawyer said:
“Employers may wish to re-assess office dress codes in light of the current heatwave and make adjustments where necessary in the interests of maintaining a happy and productive workplace.
“Currently, the law does not specify a range of safe working temperatures, although guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests 16 degrees centigrade as a reasonable minimum temperature, with no maximum. It would be difficult to impose a maximum temperature as clearly, this is likely to be reached much more quickly in some workplaces than others, such as in a bakery or a foundry.
“Whilst employers have no legal obligation to ensure certain working temperatures, they do owe a duty of care to their employees to ensure that the environment that they work in is safe.
“In situations where workers are wearing clothes that could be classed as restrictive, for example ties, employers should consider relaxing dress codes where appropriate.
“Productivity should be at the forefront of any employer’s mind and if workers are uncomfortably hot, they will not be able to perform at their best. Relaxing dress codes is one approach, however if temperatures reach extremely high levels, employers may want to consider introducing further adjustments. Flexible working is an option and early starts and late finishes during the summer months are common in hot countries: allowing workers to rest during the hottest part of the day.
“Ignoring workplace temperature is not advisable. If workers with health conditions or disabilities fall ill from the heat, employers could find themselves liable for personal injury claims if they fail to make reasonable adjustments.”