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Feeling the heat at work this summer

25 June 2018 Employment Law Garry Sutherland

Scotland is not renowned for it’s hot (or even dry!) summer, therefore with the recent mini heatwave we have been experiencing, employers are warned that workers may be planning to pull a sickie, according to new research.

Whether employees are booking a last minute holiday or not turning up to work on a Monday morning in order to enjoy an extended sun baked weekend, employers need to consider their strategy for keeping control of employee absences during the hot weather.

Employment tribunals have risen sharply in the past year as disgruntled employees no longer face crippling fees to bring a case to Tribunal. Therefore if not handled properly, employers could find themselves facing the tribunals themselves.

Before the sunshine turns to rain, read our tips for employers to ensure you handle the summer at work and don’t get hot under the collar:

  • Communicate what is and is not acceptable behaviour – e.g. formal process for requesting holiday, reporting sickness and the disciplinary policy applicable when it comes to dealing with those who take 'unofficial' time off.
  • If turning up to work in Hawaiian shirts and flip flops is not appropriate for your brand image, ensure you have a dress code that staff are aware of and adhere to.
  • Employers are expected to provide reasonable temperatures for their staff to work in. Make sure that your office is comfortable to work in and take extra measures to bring in fans and water coolers if necessary.
  • The sun doesn’t come out all that often in Scotland, so embrace it if possible. Motivate staff with simple things like allowing them to finish early on a Friday or buying ice lollies for the team. Consider whether it is possible to allow an extra element of flexible working so that employees can take extended lunch breaks, swap shifts, or take unpaid leave.

Setting out clear policies now will stand you in good stead for future requests from employees who wish to take time off at short notice, whether this is to enjoy the sun, sleep off a busy weekend, or watch the World Cup.

If you are investigating suspected ‘sickies’, it is vital you have a strong suspicion that the individual involved has not been genuinely ill before you start disciplinary procedures. Disciplinary procedures must be followed by the book as repercussions for businesses today can be costly.

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