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What issues do employers face in the summer?

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Employers face a range of issues to consider in the summer months, from competing summer holiday requests to providing work experience opportunities. In our latest blog, we explore how businesses can handle these issues fairly and lawfully.

In the vain hope that we are to get some pleasant weather – are you aware of how to deal with it?

 

  1. Maximum office temperatures

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace needs to be “reasonable”. However, there is no actual maximum temperature.

What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the workplace and the work being carried out by employees. Factors such as whether the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account.

 

  1. Unauthorised time off

If a holiday request is refused but the worker goes ahead and takes the time off anyway, it’s important not to jump to conclusions.

An employer should carry out an investigation to establish whether the absence was for genuine reasons.

If, however, there is no credible explanation from the worker, it may become a disciplinary issue and the employer’s disciplinary process will need to be followed.

 

  1. Summer dress codes

It may be reasonable for employers to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months, however, the extent to which an employee may be allowed to dress down when the temperature rises will, in part, depend on the role that he or she performs.

In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. Equally, for health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing irrespective of summer heat.

One way or another, organisations should ensure that the dress code is; reasonable, appropriate to the needs of the business and does not discriminate between groups of employees.

 

  1. Competing summer holiday requests

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are not obliged to agree to a worker’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the employment contract provides otherwise.

If competing requests for holiday are received from different workers, managers may prioritise requests, as long as they do this in a way which is fair and consistent, for example on a first come, first served basis.

To avoid short periods of notice for requests and refusals, it is logical for an employer to put a holiday policy in place that can set out notice provisions and other arrangements relating to holidays.

 

  1. Late return from summer holiday

Issues may also arise in the case of a worker who returns late from his or her summer holiday. In the first instance, an employer should allow the employee the opportunity to provide an explanation.

Supporting evidence, for example a medical certificate in the case of ill health, may be sought.

However, if the explanation does not appear genuine, the employer will need to consider following its disciplinary procedures.

 

  1. Summer work experience

The school summer holidays are typically a time when employers offer school-age children the opportunity to carry out work experience. An employer does not have to pay a child of compulsory school age whilst on work experience.

However, all other rules and restrictions on employing young people will apply, and relevant approvals from the local authority or school governing body will need to be obtained.