UK heatwave: How to dress for work in hot weather this summer

The UK is expected to experience a heatwave this week, with the Met Office predicting that it could be the highest temperature ever recorded in the country. The weather service has warned Britons to prepare for a fierce heatwave which will set in from today. Given the sweltering temperatures this week, clothing is a big concern for many, especially those who have to work. So how can you dress for work in the hot weather this summer?

Britain is set to experience scorching temperatures this week with the south of the country facing the highest temperatures into the high 30s from Thursday.

The Met Office has said “some records could well be broken” this week with temperatures peaking on Thursday.

On Thursday, temperatures in eastern England could surpass the current July record of 36.7C set at Heathrow in 2015, and possibly the all-time record of 38.5C set in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.

With record-breaking weather anticipated, a health warning has now been issued to elderly people and children.

Malcolm Booth, chief executive of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners (NFOP), said: “Weather forecasts predict another spell of very hot weather on the way and it is important to remember that this can be as dangerous as cold in the winter.

“People should prepare for this in order to prevent a spike in excess summer deaths due to the heat.

“Stay indoors during the hottest periods and if you live close to people who might be struggling in the hot weather take a minute to check if they are alright.

“With very high humidity this can affect elderly people and those with breathing problems more severely.”

While these temperatures are usually reserved for holidays when you can sit on the beach and take a dip into the sea when you need to cool down – many Britons are facing the daunting task of working during searing hot weather.

So are there any rules about having to work during a heatwave?

Unfortunately for those hoping for the summer’s equivalent of a “Snow Day”, there are currently no laws in the UK about when it is too hot to work.

Instead, employers are expected to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace.

The Health and Safety Executive has in fact said that a limit cannot be introduced because some industries have to work in high temperatures.

It can, however, be too cold to work with Government guidance recommending a minimum working temperature of 16C, or 13C, if employees are doing physical work.

Given that avoiding work altogether is not an option, the dilemma of what to wear to avoid discomfort in the intense heat arises.

What does the law say regarding dress codes in the hot weather?

Employment law does not outline any maximum legal working temperature, instead only adding recommended guidance for minimum working temperatures.

As there is no law pertaining to hot weather temperatures, there is no additional legal guidance for employers regarding relaxing normal work dress codes.

Legal commentator Matt Gingell said: “There is no legal requirement for employers to relax dress codes in hot weather.

“However, regardless of the law, employers should use their common sense and relax dress codes if and when necessary.”

Often dress codes do alter depending to the workplace – so it is advisable to check the particular rules and regulations pertaining to dress codes in your contract or staff handbook.

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