We’re not really set up in the UK for extreme weather conditions so when it does happen, it takes us rather by surprise. You can’t have failed to notice that the past couple of months have been sweltering, with comparisons being drawn to the summer of ’76 (not that any of us can remember as we are, naturally, far too young). Since we moved into our lovely new office in February this year, we have experienced heavy snow fall and a heatwave which is unprecedented in Amber’s world and has left us asking what does this mean for our daily working life?
In the snow, when it became too heavy, we closed the office early and worked from home. In the heat, when it became too hot, we closed the office and worked from home. But as employees in the UK do we have the right to do so? The official line from the Health and Safety Executive, in particular, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 is that ‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’ In other words, there is no minimum or maximum temperature, so it is left to common sense.
In practical terms, there are steps that can be taken by employers to ensure the safety of their employees. A quick straw poll in our office came up with suggestions such as free ice cream on demand, naked working and Pimms on tap.
More palatable options are relaxing the dress code if possible, allowing employees to travel out of peak times (especially if using the underground), providing the capability to work from home and the provision of cold drinks to encourage employees to keep hydrated.
At the end of the day, we have no control over the weather, so just enjoy it for what it is as experience tells us it can change at the drop of a sunhat!