Relaxed dress codes 'a must' during heatwave, says TUC

Published: 08 August 2018 Ezine

All employers should temporarily relax workplace dress codes to enable staff to work comfortably and safely following a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee.

The TUC recommends that "Public Health England should issue formal guidance to employers to relax dress codes and allow flexible working when heatwave alerts are issued. Additionally, the government should consult on introducing maximum workplace temperatures, especially for work that involves significant physical effort."

The TUC has previously argued for a change in the law so that a maximum indoor working temperature is set at 30 degrees centigrade or 27 degrees for those undertaking physical work, and that employers should be compelled take measures to cool the workplace down once temperatures reach 24 degrees.

The Heatwaves: adapting to climate change report says, "Overheating bring risks to public health. During the 2015 heatwave, Public Health England advised employers to let their staff travel at less busy times."

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Heatwaves threaten health, wellbeing and productivity. The Met Office has projected that UK summer temperatures could regularly reach 38.5°C by the 2040s. The Government must stop playing pass the parcel with local councils and the NHS."

The committee has also called on the government to:

  1. Ensure NHS England issues guidance on planning for summer pressures, to ensure that adequate steps are taken to prepare the NHS for more frequent heatwaves. NHS organisations should submit annual heatwave plans to ensure they are prepared for the sudden onset of a heatwave.
  2. Inspect resilience to heatwaves in hospitals through the Care Quality Commission and NHS England.

See the full report.