Do you let your staff dress down in summer?

It looks like we’re headed for a heatwave next week, with temperatures in London set to hit 24°C – not ideal for life in an office. If you have to endure a suffocating commute, or your packed into a crowded office for the best part of the day, then you’ll be well within your rights to complain that it’s just too hot – especially if you’re forced to wear a suit for work.

So, as an employer, is it time you implemented a summer dress code, to lighten the mood and help keep things cool as the temperature rises? And should non-customer facing staff be able to wear what they like to work in, as they can when they work from home?

Back in 2017, when temperatures got really hot and we had no idea that lockdown would ever become a thing, we took to Twitter to find out who, if anyone, would be dressing down and wearing shorts to work, and it was a pretty even split…

So if you’re still undecided on whether to let your staff dress down, this might convince you it’s a good idea.

TUC urges firms to relax dress codes

The Trade Union Congress (TUC),  the federation of trade unions in England and Wales, representing the majority of trade unions, is urging firms to relax dress codes during particularly hot weather, particularly for workers who usually have to wear suits and ties for work.

It has also suggested that all outdoor work should be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon, to avoid working during the hottest part of the day.

There is currently no upper temperature limit at which workers have a right to leave work, and so the TUC is also calling for a change in the law to let workers go home if the temperature reaches 30°C, or 27°C for anyone carrying out physical work.

It also wants to introduce a maximum indoor temperature, with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures, such as providing regular breaks and cool drinks,  when a workplace temperatures reach 24°C.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “While many of us will welcome the sunshine and warm temperatures this week, working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous. Employers can give their staff a break by relaxing dress code rules temporarily and ensuring staff doing outside work are protected.

Adding: “Obviously shorts and flip flops won’t be the right attire for all workers, but no-one should be made to suffer unnecessarily in the heat for the sake of appearances.”

So if your staff are required to wear suits, it might be worth relaxing the atmosphere and the dress code to keep things cool as the temperatures soar.

Let staff work from home

It could also be worth letting staff work from home when the temperature gets hot, that way the onus is on them to keep cool while working – and they can wear what they like to help keep cool.

Take a look at our blog to offer staff some top tips on how to keep cool when working from home, and be sure to make sure everyone can stay in touch by using the free teleconference service.

What is the legal workplace temperature in the UK?

Although there’s legal upper or lower limit on workplace temperatures (this would be impossible to enforce as the limits would need to vary wildly for occupations such as frozen food workers and metal smelters), but government guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work.

What is business casual?

The trouble with changing the dress code is some employees can take things a step too far and, before you know it, your office looks more like a gym class. So, if you are going to relax the dress code, it’s worth keeping some ground rules – this infographic from perfectly illustrates how a business casual could be the ideal compromise.

Do workers have dress code rights?

As an employer, you can’t discriminate between workers based upon their clothing. Watch this short video to find out more about employee rights when it comes to workplace dress codes.

Are you letting your staff dress down this summer? Let us know in the comments section.