Understanding essential workplace summer laws

How can you provide the best support for your workforce during these summer months?

During the summer holiday season, it is essential for businesses to adapt to the changing weather, meaning air con on, and jackets and cardigans off. But there is much more to know as an employer about supporting your workforce in the rising temperature.

  1. Maximum office temperatures

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace needs to be “reasonable”. However, the Regulations do not provide a maximum workplace temperature.

What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the workplace and the work being carried out by employees. Factors such as whether or not the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account

  1. Unauthorised time off

If a holiday request is refused but the employee goes ahead and takes the time off anyway, it’s important not to jump to conclusions.

You should carry out an investigation to establish whether or not the absence was for genuine reasons.

If, however, there is no credible explanation from the worker, it may become a disciplinary issue and the employer’s disciplinary process will need to be followed.

  1. Summer dress codes

It may be reasonable for employers to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months. However, the extent to which an employee may be allowed to dress down when the temperature rises will in part depend on the role he or she performs.

In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. Equally, for health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing, irrespective of summer heat.

One way or the other, organisations should ensure that the dress code is reasonable, appropriate to the needs of the particular business and does not discriminate between groups of employees.

  1. Competing summer holiday requests

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are not obliged to agree to a worker’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the employment contract provides otherwise.

If competing requests for a holiday are received from different workers, managers may prioritise requests, provided that they do this in a way which is fair and consistent, for example on a first-come, first-served basis.

To avoid the short periods of notice for requests and refusals, it makes sense for a company to have its own holiday policy in which it can set out its own notice provisions and other arrangements relating to the holiday.

  1. Late return from summer holiday

Issues may also arise in the case of a worker who returns late from his or her summer holiday. In the first instance, you should allow the employee the opportunity to provide an explanation.

Supporting evidence, for example, a medical certificate in the case of ill health, may be sought.

However, if the explanation does not appear genuine, the employer will need to consider following its disciplinary policy.

  1. Summer work experience

The school summer holidays are typically a time when employers offer school-age children the opportunity to carry out work experience. You do not have to pay a child of compulsory school age while on work experience.

However, all other rules and restrictions on employing young people will apply, and relevant approvals from the local authority or school governing body will need to be obtained.

These are some of the many written and unwritten laws about working in the summer, there are plenty more hidden in the fine print but as long as you follow these rules then you should be able to enjoy the summer sun. At People Business we are more than just specialists in HR, we are people who are dedicated to giving you personalised help in your specific area of need, there is no problem too big or too small we cannot handle. If you would like some more information on the formal arrangements between employer and the employee then click here

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If you would like any advice on family-friendly working practices, absence issues and work experience placements, please get in contact with us on info@peoplebusiness.co.uk or call 01932 874 944.

Leave a comment down below of anything you are unsure about regarding summer laws.

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