Employers urged to be mindful of workers who may have legal rights to leave work during the heatwave, top solicitor says

18/07/2022

employment lawyer has said workers in Scotland may be legally entitled to leave the office when next week’s heatwave hits if bosses don’t follow health and safety rules.

Liam Entwistle, employment law specialist at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, is reminding employers to follow guidance on keeping staff safe as temperatures are set to soar to as high as 30C in certain parts of Scotland next week.

The employment law specialist’s warning comes as the Met Office has extended its extreme heat weather warning for England and Wales until Tuesday, and Scotland is expecting record temperatures on Tuesday.

Entwistle advised: “When we’re experiencing extreme temperatures, it’s important for employers to be mindful of their duty of care to staff to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace, and follow health and safety guidelines. 

“Bosses should be mindful of the thermal comfort of their staff when temperatures soar, in order to avoid complaints from disgruntled employees, or, at worse, personal injury claims.

“If it gets too hot to work, and enough employees complain, employers should listen, carry out a risk assessment, and then put effective cooling measures in place.

“Employees have a duty to make sure their staff members aren’t put at risk of heatstroke, exhaustion or dehydration.

“As always, it’s important that employees and staff members communicate if the workplace isn’t comfortable, and are able to do so without fear of criticism. Employers should be very aware that some employees may feel thermal discomfort more acutely than others – for example female employees going through the menopause.”

For more information on WJM and its Employment team go to www.wjm.co.uk

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