The UK is currently experiencing a heatwave with temperatures to rival all of our favourite holiday destinations. Great if you have the luxury of lounging by a crystal clear pool with a cool drink in your hand but the heat can be difficult to cope with when you’re trying to work. A rare red warning which means there is risk to life is now in place for much of the UK. A red warning is the most serious and means it is very likely there will be a risk to life.  

As an employer you are responsible for the welfare of those that work for you, so will need to carefully consider how best to respond to the warm weather. There is no law that sets out a maximum temperature for a workplace but HSE guidance states that a workplace temperature must be “reasonable”.

Listen to your employees if they raise concerns about the heat and think about the ways you can help to cool things down. Bear in mind that some employees may have medical conditions that can be made worse by the high temperatures so make sure you carry out a risk assessment to identify the risks and take steps to minimise of eliminate them. Consider practical steps like:

1. allowing employees to work from home where this may be helpful

2. relaxing dress codes a little

3. allowing temporary adjustments to working hours e.g. to avoid rush hour commuting and the hottest parts of the day

4. supplying cool refreshments and plenty of drinking water

5. allowing additional breaks

6. allowing the use of fans and air conditioning and switching off any electronic equipment that is not being used

7. being prepared to consider short notice requests for annual leave

For those working outdoors, make sure they have access to shade and / or air conditioned break areas. Give them frequent breaks, access to plentiful water and encourage the use of sunscreen, protective clothing and head protection.

Keep cool and carry on!