Unpredictable British weather is part and parcel of the winter months. While we can’t always rely on the forecast to predict an overnight snowfall or dangerous road conditions, it makes sense for employers to prepare for eventualities such as these. This also includes the sudden flu bug that can go around the office!
In a recent press release, Karen Dykes (Recruitment Partner at Anne Corder Recruitment) offered her advice on tackling these common winter workplace challenges. Keep reading for the full release:
Winter weather presents many challenges for both employers and employees. Frustrating commutes into the office, a car engine that refuses to start on a frosty morning, or an unwell child; there are many events that are beyond our control.
However, with common sense, best practice and a contingency plan, many businesses can stave off the winter blues.
When it comes to minimum or maximum working temperatures, there are no laws that stipulate when it is too hot or cold to work. However, guidance from the Health and Safety Executive suggests a minimum office temperate of 16 degrees is comfortable.
Employers must also bear in mind that they are required to abide by health and safety at work laws. This includes keeping the temperature at a comfortable level and providing clean, fresh air.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 ‘require employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable’.
Employees should not be afraid to approach their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable. Risk assessments should be carried out to ensure that the workplace is kept at an appropriate temperature, reducing the risk to the health and safety of employees.
Alongside a statutory duty of care, many employers should consider other factors of cold weather that may impact their staff:
- An opportunity may arise to introduce flexible or remote working – if commutes and journeys into the workplace become difficult due to the weather conditions.
- You may want to make allowances for late arrivals, or leaving the office early due to road conditions or bad weather forecasts.
- Ensure workers have access to hot drinks through the day.
- Allow staff to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.
- Advise your workforce of any bugs or seasonal-related illnesses which are affecting the office – and send employees home if they are unwell.
- Monitor the workplace temperature and conditions, bringing in additional heating if the temperature falls below a reasonable level.
- Be vigilant when it comes to employees’ whereabouts, particularly if they are working outdoors and ensure there is two-way contact.