Allow flexible working during heatwave, says union

Avoiding the sweltering daily commute and dressing casually can help people keep cool, advises the TUC.

With temperatures predicted to nudge 37°C in East Anglia today, employers have been called upon to allow flexible working and to keep workplaces cool, so staff can work as comfortably as possible during the heatwave.

The call comes from trade union body, TUC, which has urged bosses to allow staff to work at different times of the day or from home, so they can avoid the sweltering and unpleasant conditions of the rush hour commute.

The TUC’s regional secretary for the East of England, Sam Gurney, said: “It’s about looking genuinely at when the work needs to be done, maybe so people can start earlier or finish later and take more breaks in the middle part of the day when temperatures are at their highest.”

The organisation has also called on companies to take simple steps to keep offices cool, such as opening windows, using fans and moving staff away from windows. It has also suggested temporarily relaxing strict workplace dress codes, so people are able to remove ties and jackets and wear more casual, lightweight clothes whilst temperatures are soaring.

“Most of this is about using common sense, being flexible and people talking to each other about what will help,” continued Mr Gurney.

“It is in everyone’s interest to co-operate and talk to each other – I’ve been sitting in a meeting today and it’s been sweltering. It [the heat] needs to be taken into account and dealt with in a practical way.”

And while this current heatwave is expected to break by the weekend, Mr Gurney says the lessons learnt during this hot spell might lead to businesses reflecting on their working arrangements.

“This weather is not going to last forever,” he continued, “but people might take lessons from the benefits of flexible working.

“Flexible working works both ways – it’s not all on the side of the employee. It can benefit employees who have caring responsibilities and help with work-life balance and all the studies show that with good flexible working arrangements productivity goes up and the workforce is happier.”

Mr Gurney added that the hot weather is also a particular problem in East Anglia for people working outside in agriculture.

He said employers should make sure workers in the field have shade cover, are able to recognise the signs of heat stroke, have access to water and can take adequate time off for breaks.

Courtesy of The EDP– 29/07/2019

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