Too Hot to Work in the Office?

Too hot to work in the office - thermomenter

Too Hot to Work in the Office?

Unlike in 2018, when the sun came out the beginning of May and stayed out for three glorious months, the summer of 2019 has been a bit of a slow starter. It took until well into June to get any weather that might have created a situation of it being too hot to work in the office.

At this point it’s worth noting though that the Met Office’s meteorological definition of summer isn’t the traditional one. If we’re going to be proper about it, summer begins (in the northern hemisphere) on the summer solstice. Depending on the shift of the calendar the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice takes place between the 20th and 22nd June.  So as grotty as early June was, summer began pretty much bang on time.

Anyway – to the point. There’s a heatwave going on, and your offices don’t have air conditioning and what you want to know is:

  • Can your staff leave work if it’s too hot?
  • Is there a maximum workplace temperature?

The gospel according to the Gov.UK website states that: ‘During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.’ But there’s no law decreeing maximum or minimum working temperatures. The best there is, is guidance on the minimum temperature when employees are engaged in physical labour.

All the above said, the TUC have stated a belief that employers should set a maximum temperature of 30c, with a top note of 27c for those doing strenuous work.

Too hot to work in the office - thermomenter

Despite the absence of a legal high temperature, it goes without saying that, as an employer, you must abide by health and safety at work a law and do all you can to provide your staff with:

  • A temperature maintained at a comfortable and reasonable level.**
  • Clean, fresh air

**Reasonable being defined by the HSE as: dependent on the type of work being done (manual, office, etc) and the type of workplace (kitchen, air-conditioned office, etc).

In addition to the Workplace Regulations, the 1999 Management of Health and Safey at Work Regulations call on you the employer, to make appropriate assessments of their employee’s health and safety risks. Then take necessary and practicable actions.

And of course, the workplace temperature is a potential hazard.

Six Steps to a Safe Hot Weather Workplace

The Health and Safety Executive spells out six factorsthat you the employer must consider in assessing if your workplace is safe. They are:

  1. Air temperature
  2. Radiant temperature
  3. Air velocity
  4. Humidity
  5. What clothing your staff wear
  6. The average age at which they work.

To help you, they have a thermal comfort checklist. They recommend that you get your employees to fill it out so you can determine if they’re experiencing thermal discomfort.

Desk fan

The right air conditioning

A word about air conditioning. Should you work in offices with air conditioning, and should you be in a position to influence its settings. And should you have female staff members, you might want to take note of this article in The Metro from a couple of years back.

Everyday sexism is alive and well in the temperature at which most air conditioning is set. A study carried out by two Dutch scientists at Maastricht University, found that the thermostats in most offices are based on the resting metabolic rate of a 40-year-old-man. This as per standard air con guidelines that date back to the 1960s. All of which fails to consider that women tend to be smaller and to naturally have more body fat – it’s to do with biology. Ergo they have slower metabolic rates. So, while your male employees are nice and comfortable thank you, your female staff members could well be turning blue.

So, if you are in a position to influence it – do it.

If you’re at all unsure of your obligations in keeping your staff as comfortable as possible in hot weather, or you’d like help with any of it then speak to Go-Legal and we’ll advise. No sweat!!

 

 

Outsourcing your HR functions: the benefits

Outsourcing your HR functions: the benefits

Go-Legal HR - The benefits of outsourcing your HR functions

Expanding your business and taking on staff brings many things – HR responsibilities included. One of which  is the mental health of your staff. Add more staff to the payroll and you’re entering the realms of diversity issues, office relationships, banter and employment tribunals. A lot of potential HR headaches there!

That’s a lot of HR issues for one small business to handle. As if all that weren’t enough, as this article from Forbes about the benefits of HR outsourcing points out, ‘With today’s emphasis on company culture and loyalty, the role of human resources management and the types of benefits a company offers has become increasingly important for a business’s future.’

But how can you be competitive in these areas if you’re a small or medium-sized business? That’s one heck of an ask.

As a small company you won’t have the budget to have the requisite personnel on your own payroll. And, even if you do, HR issues are often a minefield. And minefields, as we all know, are things fraught with danger. They need experts to traverse them without causing an epic explosion. And anyway, having your own in-house HR department might not be the best use of company funds. Wouldn’t you be better off investing the cost of a HR department on your businesses core activities? An investment that will, over time, fuel your business success.

As for the HR – Outsourcing is Your Saviour

According to the CIPD, the main HR function that businesses outsource is payroll. Hot on payroll’s heels is the provision of complex advice, including case management.

The CIPD cites increased efficiency and access to expertise amongst the benefits of outsourcing. To return to Forbes: ‘some mistakes in HR management will not only hurt employee loyalty, but can lead to fines.’  It’s not sound business sense to trust HR responsibilities to an employee who either:

  • Deals with these issues on a part-time basis only
  • And/or has not had enough training in HR matters

Any mistakes made could turn out to be expensive indeed, and in more ways than one. It’s better by far to bolster areas of weakness with an outsourced HR solution that is both cost-effective and expertise-effective.

Note that the CIPD voices a note of caution about HR outsourcing. They suggest that ‘it can also present challenges, such as loss of local knowledge and processes and fragmentation of the service provided.’ That’s a fair point. But one that you can address by finding, where it’s possible, your HR outsourcing support in your locality.

Should you be a Swindon or Wiltshire business in need of experienced HR outsourcing support then look no further than Go-Legal HR. That said, Go-Legal HR supports clients across the country.

About Go-Legal HR

Go Legal HR offer a comprehensive service focusing on all aspects of the legal compliance that goes hand-in-hand with employing people.

Bringing his thirty-two years of experience to the job in hand, Paul works with small to medium sized businesses. These are businesses that employ staff but neither have nor need a full-time, in-house HR advisor or manager. He also supports internal HR personnel lacking the necessary expertise in employment law.

The Go-Legal expert advice and hands-on help covers four key areas:

  1. Employment contracts, and policies and procedures
  2. Employee relations including dispute resolution and mediation
  3. Employment tribunal preparation and support
  4. Recruitment and selection

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