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TUC: Relax workplace dress codes during heatwave

With temperatures hitting over 30oC in parts of the UK this week, the TUC is calling on employers to temporarily relax their workplace dress codes so staff can work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible. 

  • Temperatures hitting over 30oC in parts of the UK this week
  • TUC calls on employers to relax workplace dress codes temporarily to help staff cope

Where people are working outdoors, employers should consider reviewing working times so that, where possible, work is done in the morning and afternoon, rather than around midday when temperatures are highest.

Bosses can also help their workers keep cool by letting them come to work in more casual clothing.

While staff are not expected to work when the temperature drops below 16oC (or 13oC if they are do physically demanding work) there are no restrictions for when the workplace becomes too hot.

0The TUC would like to see a change in the law to introduce a new maximum indoor temperature, set at 30oC – or 27oC for those doing strenuous jobs – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24oC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “While many of us will welcome the sunshine and warm temperatures this week, working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.

“Employers can give their staff a break by relaxing dress code rules temporarily and ensuring staff doing outside work are protected.

“Obviously shorts and flip flops won’t be the right attire for all workers, but no one should be made to suffer unnecessarily in the heat for the sake of appearances.”

To keep work cool, the TUC would like to see employers: 

  • allow staff to adopt less formal attire – with jackets off, and casual lightweight clothes in.
  • ensure that outdoor workers have sun-screen and water and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun
  • distribute fans to staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets
  • allow flexible working so that staff can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute
  • allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.

Notes to Editors:

  • Although the law states that staff should work in a reasonable temperature, the TUC says there is no legal maximum. Employees are not expected to work when the temperature drops below 16oC (or 13oC if they are do physically demanding work), but there are no similar restrictions for when the workplace becomes too hot. The TUC would like to see the law changed so there is an absolute indoor maximum of 30oC, with employers forced to introduce cooling measures when the temperature hits 24oC.
  • The TUC’s advice on how to handle working through a heatwave is at www.worksmart.org.uk/health/summer_heat
  • All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
  • TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews

 

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