Plea for workplace dress codes to be relaxed during heatwave

A group of office workers
A group of office workers

Employers are being urged by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to temporarily relax workplace dress codes to help their staff work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible.

With the temperatures set to hit 30C in the south of the country and the mid to high 20s in West Yorkshire the sudden increase in temperatures means that many workplaces may become unbearably hot, warns the TUC.

While there is a legal limit below which workplace temperatures should not fall (16C), the TUC says that most people may be surprised to learn there is no upper limit.

For many years the TUC has been pushing for a change in safety regulations to introduce a new maximum temperature of 30C – or 27C for those doing strenuous work – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24C.

This week employers can help their staff by allowing them to leave their more formal office attire at home, says the TUC, as the most simple way for staff to keep cool inside when it’s scorching outside is for them to be able to come to work in more casual clothing.

Bosses who provide cool and comfortable work environments will get more out of their staff when it’s sweltering, says the TUC.

Workers who are unable to dress in cool summer clothing and who work where there is no air-conditioning, fans or cold drinking water will feel lethargic, and lack inspiration and creativity.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s no fun working in a baking office or factory and employers should do all they can to take the temperature down. Clearly vest tops and shorts are not suitable attire for all front line staff, but those not dealing with the public should be able to discard their tights, ties and suits.

“Extreme heat can be as unpleasant to work in as extreme cold, and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will also be affecting their productivity.

“With temperatures set to soar this week, now is the time for employers to relax the dress code rules temporarily and allow their staff to dress down. Making sure that everyone has access to fans, portable air conditioning units and cold drinking water should help reduce the heat in offices, factories, shops, hospitals, schools and other workplaces across the country.”

The Chartered Management Institute have echoed the TUC’s comments, claiming that many businesses underestimated the effect that weather conditions could have on staff output.