Neves Solicitors’ advice on surviving summer in the office

Legal Eagle column: Elizabeth McGlone is a Partner and employment law specialist at Neves Solicitors. Here, she looks at the challenges that unusually hot summer months in the UK can pose for employers – and how to stay within the law.

Air conditioning:

AC can be a welcome relief or cause untold misery for some. Before you crank up the AC and freeze your colleagues, try and ensure a balance before you risk upsetting anyone.

It may be that someone suffers from a health condition that is exacerbated by icy air or another person cannot tolerate extreme heat.

Try to find a temperature that works for everyone.

If you’re not lucky enough to have AC open the windows, top up the water cooler and invest in some ice creams, always a winner for staff morale.

Workplace Dress:

When the thermometer creeps up the layers often come off, sometimes general attire can become inappropriate or too casual for your business or office.

You simply cannot expect people to dress in suits, ties and jackets during a heat wave, it is an issue in itself.

On relaxing the dress code or accepting that people may make efforts to keep cool establish what is and is not acceptable and explain why i.e. customer facing, inappropriateness or even health and safety reasons.

If you communicate what the company policy is or what your expectations are you will achieve a higher level of compliance with less back lash.

Annual leave and staff shortages:

The summer months can be a nightmare for employers with school summer holidays.

If it is a critical trading period for you this can have major repercussions.

Ensure that you have a robust holiday policy in place and that all annual leave is requested and approved in the same way to eliminate complaints of unfairness.

Make it clear that holidays are on a first come first served basis.

Those that do not request their dates do not get the leave they want. Simple.

To avoid the need to ask that people compromise on dates be careful when approving holidays.

If an employee is refused the dates they want and mysteriously goes ‘off sick’ during that period, this could be dealt with by way of your disciplinary procedure warranting an investigation into their absence.

You can call Elizabeth at Neves Solicitors on 01908 304560.

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