TUC calls for casual approach to heatwave

The TUC has launched a ‘cool work’ campaign which urges employers in the UK to follow the lead of Japanese businesses and relax dress codes as the temperatures soar.

Last year, in an attempt to reduce energy use, Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, took off his tie and urged his country’s workforce to leave their jackets and ties at home.

The TUC said the best way for staff to keep cool inside when it’s hot outside is for employees to be able to wear more casual attire in the office, perhaps coming in jacket and tie-less, or wearing shorts.

Employers who provide staff with a cool and comfortable work environment will get more out of them, the union group said. And bosses who give summer garb the green light could also save on their energy bills, by turning down or even turning off the air conditioning system.

General secretary Brendan Barber said: “We’d like British bosses to work cool and take the Japanese PM’s advice and allow their staff to dress down a little for summer. Not only will a cool approach to work avoid staff wilting at their desks, it could also save companies money as they should be able to turn down the air con a notch.”

While health and safety law states that staff should work in a reasonable temperature, there is no legal maximum. The TUC is calling on employers to do all they can to stop their premises from becoming unbearably hot.

Measures employers are being advised to take include:

  • allowing staff to adopt a less formal attire – jackets and ties are out, short sleeves, vest tops and even shorts are in

  • distributing fans to staff and providing portable air cooling cabinets

  • installing air conditioning, and maintaining it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave

  • introducing a flexitime system so that staff that can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering rush hour commute

  • moving desks away from windows, drawing the blinds or putting reflecting film on the windows

  • allowing staff to take frequent breaks and providing them with a ready supply of cool drinks.

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