Concerns rise as temperatures and absence rates soar

A
legal helpline for employers has reported rocketing sickness absence as
temperatures soar during the current heatwave.

Law
firm Peninsula claimed that calls to it’s employment law helpline shot up by 42
per cent yesterday, with the majority of bosses raising concerns about staff
missing work.

Many
managers were concerned that a rise in employees taking sick days coincided
with the hot summer weather.

However,
Russell Guest head of corporate development at Peninsula warned employers not
to take action against staff, unless there was evidence that suggested the hot
spell was directly responsible for the unauthorised absence.

"Employers
should not take action on employees that call in sick without a thorough
investigation. We often see a trend in rising absenteeism during the summer but
employers should not presume the weather conditions are the main reason,"
he said.

Guest
also advised HR professionals to be aware of conditions for those staff who are
in the workplace during these unusually high temperatures.

He
said employers should introduce a comfort zone where the temperature is three
degrees below the outside temperature and ensure the air flow through the
building is sufficient.

"It
is extremely important to ensure employees take regular breaks and that drinks
are made available," he said.

"If
you fail to comply… you may be breaking health and safety laws and could face
prosecution. If you have an employee who becomes unwell in the workplace, you
may feel the individual is taking advantage of the weather, but for the safety
of your employees it is advisable to side with caution and give them the
benefit of the doubt."

By Ross Wigham

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