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Lucie Mitchell

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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HR tip: Too hot to work?


These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Some of our employees complained during some recent hot weather that it was too hot to work and that they should therefore have been sent home. How do we stand?

I find it uncomfortable to work in hot weather and would much rather sit in the garden at home with a glass of Pimms and a good book. However, we have to be realistic and recognise that we do have spells of hot weather, work must go on, and people in hot countries manage alright to compete with us.

There is a difference between the weather being uncomfortably hot and unbearably hot. In the latter case, if you cannot in some way alleviate your employees’ distress, then you should send them home. Otherwise do what you can to cool the air, encourage them to wear light clothing, give them more breaks, and treat them to cold drinks. Not Pimms of course. Unless I am visiting you.

One Response

  1. Uncomfortable… bad for health and bad for business
    In 2003 I worked in a prestigious IT company. Our offices did not have air conditioning and were a converted warehouse. It was a very hot summer and office temperatures averaged at 33 degrees peaking at 41 degrees.

    I recall there was quite a lot of flippant talk of Pimms in the garden by our management at the time. Although those of us who had little choice but to endure the heat (no “off-site meetings” or “working from home” for us) were not so light-hearted.

    I was in the very early stages of pregnancy at the time and the high heat I had to endure I believe to be a factor in my son’s disability. A colleague subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown and had months off with depression. Many people later left the company (including me).

    I am not lazy. I enjoy hard work. I’m not fond of lounging around in the garden when there is work to be done.
    Employers have a legal (and moral) responsibility to provide REASONABLE working temperatures.
    For office work that is considered to be 27 degrees centigrade maximum. If the temperature is regularly more than this then you should send your staff home – or risk the damage to your business and your employee’s health.

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Lucie Mitchell

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Lucie Mitchell

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