Issue date
19 Jul 2016

With the temperatures set to hit over 30oC in parts of the UK tomorrow (Tuesday) the TUC is calling on employers to temporarily relax workplace dress codes so staff can work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible. 

For many years the TUC has been pushing for a change in safety regulations to introduce a new maximum indoor temperature. The TUC wants this set at 300C – or 270C for those doing strenuous jobs – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 240C.

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

The TUC says that this week employers can help their staff by allowing them to leave their more formal work attire at home, says the TUC. Often the simplest way for staff to keep cool when it’s scorching outside is for them to be able to come to work in more casual clothing.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.

“Employers should relax dress code rules temporarily and ensure staff doing outside work are protected.

“While shorts and vest tops may not be appropriate attire for all, nobody should be made to wilt in the heat for the sake of keeping up appearances.”

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

·    allow staff to adopt less formal attire – with jackets and ties out, and short sleeves, vest tops and shorts in

·    ensure that outdoor workers are supplied with 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

·    install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave

·    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

·    move desks away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film

·    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 www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews