Derbyshire employers are being urged to temporarily relax workplace dress codes during the heatwave.
The request from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) comes as temperatures are expected to reach the mid to high 20s in the county tomorrow.
The sudden increase in temperatures means that many workplaces may become unbearably hot, warns the TUC.
While there is a legal limit below which workplace temperatures should not fall (16C), the TUC says that most people may be surprised to learn there is no upper limit.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s no fun working in a baking office or factory and employers should do all they can to take the temperature down. Clearly vest tops and shorts are not suitable attire for all front line staff, but those not dealing with the public should be able to discard their tights, ties and suits.
“Extreme heat can be as unpleasant to work in as extreme cold, and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will also be affecting their productivity.
“With temperatures set to soar this week, now is the time for employers to relax the dress code rules temporarily and allow their staff to dress down. Making sure that everyone has access to fans, portable air conditioning units and cold drinking water should help reduce the heat in offices, factories, shops, hospitals, schools and other workplaces across the country.”
The TUC has been pushing for change in safety regulations for several years to introduce a new maximum temperature of 30C – or 27C for those doing strenuous work – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24C.
The organisation said bosses who provide cool and comfortable work environments will get more out of their staff when it’s sweltering as workers who are unable to dress in cool summer clothing and who work where there is no air-conditioning, fans or cold drinking water will feel lethargic, and lack inspiration and creativity.
The TUC is calling on employers to:
• Allow staff to adopt less formal attire – with jackets and ties out, and short sleeves, vest tops and shorts in.
• Distribute fans to staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets.
• Install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave.
• Allow flexible working so that staff can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute.
• Move desks away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film.
• Allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.