Warmer days are here and holidays are on the horizon… now is the time to start thinking about those common employment issues that coincide with the onset of summer. Laura Merrylees of Personnel Today sets out a checklist of six common issues.
Summer employment issues:
Competing summer holiday requests
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are not obliged to agree to a worker’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the employment contract provides otherwise.
If competing requests for holiday are received from different workers, managers may prioritise requests. However they should do this in a way that is fair and consistent, for example on a first-come, first-served basis.
To avoid the short periods of notice for requests and refusals, it makes sense for an employer to have its own holiday policy. It can then set out and communicate its own notice provisions and other arrangements relating to holiday
Un-authorised time off
If a holiday request is refused but the worker goes ahead and takes the time off anyway, it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
An employer should carry out an investigation to establish whether or not the absence was for genuine reasons.
If, however, there is no credible explanation from the worker, it may become a disciplinary issue. The employer’s disciplinary process will need to be followed.
Late return from summer holiday
Issues may also arise in the case of a worker who returns late from his or her summer holiday. In the first instance, an employer should allow the employee the opportunity to provide an explanation.
Supporting evidence, for example a medical certificate in the case of ill health, may be sought.
However, if the explanation does not appear genuine, the employer will need to consider following its disciplinary policy.
Summer dress codes
It may be reasonable for employers to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months. The extent to which an employee may be allowed to dress down when the temperature rises will in part depend on the role he or she performs.
In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. Equally, for health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing irrespective of summer heat.
One way or the other, organisations should ensure that the dress code is reasonable. It should be:
- Appropriate to the needs of the particular business
- Non-discriminatory between groups of employees
Maximum office temperatures
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace needs to be “reasonable”. However, there is no maximum temperature.
What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the workplace and the work being carried out by employees. Factors such as whether or not the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account
Summer work experience
The school summer holidays are typically a time when employers offer school-age children the opportunity to carry out work experience. An employer does not have to pay a child of compulsory school age while on work experience.
However, all other rules and restrictions on employing young people will apply, and relevant approvals from the local authority or school governing body will need to be obtained.
Matthew from Consensus HR states “Summer should be a time of relaxation and fun for the team- but employees must remember that the company they work for still needs to operate correctly. Ultimately it is the employer that pays the wages. Time wasted by having to deal with avoidable issues could have been used for the benefit of the business & team in other ways.”
If your business suffers in the summer due to the issues raised in this blog, let us know.
Call Matthew at Consensus HR and see how they can help your business manage common summer employment issues.
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