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We have entered those few weeks of the year when the sun comes out and the temperature rises – causing office work to become at best uncomfortable and at best unbearable. The good old British Summertime!

With forecasters predicting the heat wave to continue into August, the question regarding what amounts to acceptable office attire is being pondered the length and breadth of Britain.

 Of course, it varies greatly depending on your working environment: whether or not you are customer facing; the industry in which you work, health & safety requirements of your role etc. Clearly, a customer-facing environment will generally have a less relaxed approach to worker attire during the summer months than say, the construction industry.

Whilst there are legal limits on minimum working temperatures, currently 160C or 130C for those doing physically exertive work, there are no such maximum working temperatures. 

Keeping work comfortable

During the summer months, a pragmatic approach needs to be taken by employers and employees alike, to ensure a comfortable working environment for all. The Health and Safety Executive has published on its website an article on heat stress, highlighting the risks to employees of working in overtly warm working environments. In particular, hot workplaces greatly increase the risk of fatigue and have a detrimental impact on productivity. 

I would recommend that it is clearly in the best interests of employers to ensure their employees are as productive as possible throughout the day. Therefore, compromise is required during the summer months to create a comfortable working environment. 

Create a cohesive dress code policy

A practical step for employers would be to create a workplace dress code policy so that there can be no ambiguity as to what is acceptable and what is not. This will obviously vary from industry to industry. A practical dress code policy will ensure from employers perspective that you continue to convey the image you want to your customers, whilst also keeping your employees comfortable and productive. 

Want to learn more about your obligations and options as an employer? Read Howells’ HELP guide to employment law today. 

(Image: Michael Gil under CC BY 2.0)

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