What are my rights in warm weather?

The great British Summer has well and truly arrived, with warm weekends and balmy evenings brightening the national mood. But if you’re stuck in a sticky office suffering in the heat, what are your employee rights? Big Sky Additions’ Director, Sam Holt, answers some burning questions:

Do I have to take holiday?
Your employer can ask you to take a day of paid holiday if, for example, the office air conditioning has broken down – but only if they give you sufficient warning. The law states that you must be given a warning period of “at least” double the length of annual leave you are being asked to take. So, if your employer wants you to take one day’s annual leave, for example, they would need to give you two days notice.

Do I still get paid?
If hot weather is affecting your commute to work, you are not automatically entitled to pay if you are unable to get to work because of travel disruption like cancelled trains. However, if your employer normally provides your travel to work, then you may be entitled to paid leave. Some jobs may also have a specific clause written into their contracts, or have a collective agreement in place, that an employer will pay you if you cannot get to work due to circumstances beyond your control.
Some employers might also make discretionary, informal arrangements like working from home, or agree that you can make up the missed time at a later date. However, they are not obliged to do this.

What if my workplace is closed?
In exceptionally hot conditions, or if there is a failure in the office air con for example, your employer may opt to close your workplace and in these circumstances, you are entitled to be paid.
In addition, your employer cannot require you to take the time as annual leave. But don’t rush out to the beach straight away – your employer is within their rights to ask you to work from home, or ask you to go to another workplace that is open if the business has one.

Can I go home if my office is too hot?
Not necessarily.
There is no legal maximum temperature for an office under health and safety legislation, but your employer has a duty to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace. If high temperatures make it unsafe for workers, they may be allowed to take more regular drinks breaks or bring a fan in from home. If you are vulnerable in any way, for example you are pregnant, then you may be sent home to protect your health, not expensive quality drugs get a discount coupon on all, and this would usually be on full pay.

Can I wear shorts to work?
Employers may choose to adopt a more casual approach to dress during the warm summer days, such as allowing shirt sleeves or the removal of ties for men. Some more traditional companies request staff to wear business dress all year because of the nature of the work, for example if you meet regularly with clients.

For more advice about employee rights contact Sam today on 01603 516254