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HR News Round-Up September 2018

Posted On: 03/09/2018

This month’s news round-up is all about the heatwave and what a scorcher it was. There is a rumour it may be returning. It’s fabulous when you can relax in glorious weather and dip your toes in the cooling waters of the sea – but not so great when you’re working indoors.

Let’s look at some of the problems encountered by the UK workforces and explore some solutions.

Productivity suffers

Heat has a direct impact on productivity, and not for the best. As core temperatures rise, our bodies expend their energy looking for ways to keep it cool which has a negative impact on our brain’s ability to function, effecting our cognitive performance.

The rising temperature affects the way we think, learn and process information – it quite literally slows us down. [1]

Employment law and the heat

Contrary to what a lot of employees believe, there is no fixed minimum or maximum temperature requirement for the workplace. The Health & Safety Executive state that it should be ‘reasonable’. [2]

If you haven’t put in place a policy on ‘hot weather’, then it might be a good idea to create one and share its contents with your employees.

Introduction of a maximum workplace temperature

MPs have urged the government to introduce a maximum workplace temperature, especially for work that involves physical effort. [3]

The environmental audit committee have recommended that a series of measures need to be taken to help employees cope with these rising temperatures. This is to include flexible working patterns and changing building regulations to prevent overheating.

The committee have reported that extreme temperature events in Europe are 10 times more likely now than they were in the early 2000s which could result in significant economic loss. In 2010, around 5 million staff days were lost due to overheating above 26°C which resulted in economic losses of £770million.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the TUC, said the recent hot weather has shown the need for a maximum limit. “It’s great to have support from MPs for this common-sense policy, and we hope the government will take quick action.”

In addition, Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee said: “The government must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure.”

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more news about this and will let you know when we hear more about this story.

Keeping cool

We tend to work at our optimum in temperatures between 16°C and 24 °C. It’s a legal duty for all employers to ensure the safety and comfort of their employees, if they don’t comply with this they could be at risk of legal action. [4]

There are ways to keep your workforce cool this summer and to keep brains in great shape!

If you’d like to discuss any issues raised in this blog or share your experiences on how the heat impacted you, please call our friendly team on 0161 941 2426.

[1] Personnel Today

[2] HR Review

[3] Personnel Today

[4] I News

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