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Seasonal woes

View profile for Chloe Pereira
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You can spot patterns in most areas of life, and the world of work and employment issues are no different.

Winter brings us ice, snow and travel chaos – can or can’t employees get to work? What happens if they don’t? What should company policy say? 

Christmas is full of festive cheer - which means parties, booze… and increased opportunity for sexual harassment and alcohol related misconduct. 

Sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup can result in suspicious sick days and last minute holiday requests. Allow the holiday, or risk an unplanned absence impacting on business continuity?

What about the Summer of 2018? It’s all about legs. (Bear with me). 

Us Brits are obsessed with whether we’ll feel the warm sun on our faces and stay dry in the process, or suffer yet another washed out bank holiday weekend.  We LOVE to talk about the weather: All. Year. Round. But this summer has taken the biscuit; in fact we’re all dry like biscuits and melting from the inside out. 

For those lucky enough to work in an air conditioned office, the working day is like a treat. In fact, why am I working from home this afternoon – I miss this morning when my skin felt chilled and even goose-bumped from the air con. Spare a thought for those who work outdoors, in hot kitchens, or other environments which feel hotter than the sun. Or even those of us who have to travel using less than salubrious public transport, or walk – how does it feel turning up to work to start your day looking like you’ve just got out of the shower ( but definitely not smelling like it)?

It comes back to legs, and arms in fact. We need to feel as cool as possible, allow as little sweat to cling to us as possible and by all things good hopefully smell half decent. This means fewer clothes. 

No matter what environment or line of work you’re in, this can be a contentious issue. At the risk of venturing into the realms of a boring legal article, just for the record, there is no maximum working temperature. It all comes down to what’s reasonable, and it’s up to the employer to conduct relevant health and safety assessments. Let’s face it, we all want to try to stay as comfortable as possible, but we also have a job to do, a company to represent, and some sort of professional image to maintain.

Is it really going to destroy your company image if staff enjoy a relaxed dress code for a few weeks? Well, maybe if they’re front of house in a 5* hotel and wearing speedos – but perhaps colour/material/style appropriate shorts for men is a fair compromise (particularly when women will almost undoubtedly be allowed to wear skirts or dresses).

My advice is to exercise common sense, balance, and be clear up front. Not one size fits all (literally, and figuratively) and you may need to consider other potential complications, like the heat and humidity affecting certain medical conditions.

Above all, stay cool, safe and professional, and make the most of it…before long I’ll be writing about whether staff can be expected to ski 3 miles to work because they can’t get their car through the snow…