Heatwave: British employers urged to relax dress codes and distribute fans during hot weather

Trade unions call on employers to protect staff from sweltering heat


Tourists and office workers enjoy the sun at St Paul's Cathedral, London | File photo: PA Images

The umbrella body for British trade unions has called on employers to temporarily relax workplace dress codes and provide staff with fans as temperatures soar.

TUC is also asking businesses to consider reviewing rosters so that employees can work in the morning and afternoon, avoiding the midday heat.

The national trade union centre is urging employers to allow staff to ditch jackets and ties in these scorching days.

Frances O’Grady, TUC’s general secretary, said: “Working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.

“Employers should relax dress code rules temporarily and ensure staff doing outside work are protected.

“While shorts and vest tops may not be appropriate attire for all, nobody should be made to wilt in the heat for the sake of keeping up appearances.”

Employers have also been encouraged to:

  • ensure outdoor workers are supplied with sunscreen and water;
  • provide portable air-cooling cabinets and install air conditioning;
  • allow flexible working so staff have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the rush-hour commute;
  • move desks away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film;
  • permit staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.

TUC has pushed in recent years for the introduction of legal maximum temperatures – 27°C for strenuous work and and 30°C for all other areas of employment.

There is no set limit currently in place, meaning employers cannot be sued if an employee dies as a result of heat.

Parts of the UK are forecast to see temperatures of up to 30°C today. Ireland is also in the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures expected to reach 27°C.