Be prepared for summer sun issues, employers urged
It’s the season of holidays and, if we’re lucky, the occasional heatwave but employers in the Midlands are being warned to be prepared for the issues that the summer sun brings with it.
Workers falling ill while on holiday, flight delays and hot and humid workplaces could all have an impact on productivity, said employment specialist Amber Bate.
But Amber, a lawyer with FBC Manby Bowdler, said companies must be aware of the appropriate legal response in each situation to ensure they don’t fall foul of the law.
“Many businesses, especially small firms, are already stretched over the summer period with workers on leave and it’s unlucky if an employee falls ill while on holiday or is delayed by flight cancellations or strikes. But you must have the right policies in place to deal with these problems.
“Following a number of cases from Europe, the law is now clear that an employee who falls ill before or during a period of pre-arranged statutory holiday should be allowed to take the holiday at a later date. But the agreement on when the leave can be taken in the future should be in line with the usual company policy.
“Problems can also arise if employees are delayed when returning from holiday, either due to flight cancellations or delays, strikes or, as we’ve seen, by volcanic ash clouds.
“Employers will usually tend to require workers to use up extra days of holiday when this happens, but be careful with any plans to withhold pay as this could, in some cases, be unlawful as a deduction in wages.”
If a sudden heatwave hits and the mercury pushes up office temperatures, what is the legal position?
“There is no maximum limit for a workplace according to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations although there is a movement among MPs to introduce one,” explained Amber.
“They want to see water provided and air conditioning to be legally enforced to combat uncomfortably high workplace temperatures if temperatures rise about 30c or 27c if people are doing strenuous work.
“Although there’s no enforceable upper limit, employers have a legal duty to provide ‘a reasonably comfortable temperature’ so consider how your workers will cope on the rare occasion we reach those temperatures and be proactive to provide a manageable environment.”