Summertime is probably most people’s favourite time of year. But being a business owner at this time of year comes with a few tricky situations that you may need to manage.
Summer comes with 6 weeks’ worth of school holidays, and with that comes a lot of holiday requests. Your employees who have children may want to take their children on a holiday, they may not have anyone to provide childcare, and even if they don’t have children, they might just want to take a break.
It’s important to have a process in place for managing holiday requests during the busier periods. School holidays and Christmas time are generally the busiest for requesting time off. Whether you say that holiday requests are accepted on a first come first serve basis, or if you have a rota in place to make sure that everyone gets a chance of being off, you need to ensure you’ve communicated this to your staff.
Something that business owners also forget is that you can say “no” to a holiday request. If an employee requests a holiday that means that there is a detrimental effect on the business, then say no to it.
We’ve seen a glimpse of the sun and we’ve enjoyed it! Put away the winter coats and dust off your summer wardrobe. But where do you draw the line when it comes to the clothes your employees are wearing to work? If you have a uniform, that’s easier to manage; you can provide clothing that is suitable to wear during hotter days. But if you just say “smart casual” then what is appropriate? This is totally your decision; however, you need to be careful that you are not discriminating against anyone. If you’re allowing your female employees to wear skirts, then why not allow your male employees to wear smart shorts?
It may be an idea to have a more relaxed dress code during hotter periods as your employees could suffer if you’re making them wear a full suit in work when it’s 32 degrees. If they are more comfortable, then they are less likely to make mistakes.
Over the years we’ve heard business owners say, “I can’t allow flip-flops because they are a H&S hazard”. Are they? This would depend on what industry you’re in and the role the employee is doing. If you’re a factory owner and your employees are packing car parts, then it’s probably not a good idea to allow them to wear flip-flops – dropping an alternator on your foot is going to hurt. On the other hand, if you’re running an office, your employees are less likely to do any manual handling, so look at it logically. Is there actually a H&S risk? If not, then you could allow it.
There’s going to be other H&S aspects that apply when considering warmer weather – things like PPE. If your employees are expected to wear high-vis clothing, there are a range of options that you can choose from. You can have thicker high-vis coats for the winter months and move to a high-vis waistcoat during the summer months. That way, they are still visible at all times.
Probably the most controversial part of warmer weather is people wanting to have a quick pint, or glass of wine, with their lunch. The number of employees going out for lunch increases during warmer weather. They can actually get out of work and have a walk around or sit outside, unlike most of the year when it’s raining and cold.
When you’re out for lunch on your own time, having a glass of wine or a pint with your food isn’t frowned upon, so why would it be during working hours? It’s just one, right? What’s the harm? Well, it’s not that simple. Alcohol can mean that you’re not operating at full capacity, even if it is just one drink you’ve had. Your reaction times will be slower. If your employees are in a safety critical role, the last thing you want is for their reaction times to be slower. Also, you’ve got to consider that everyone has a different tolerance level to alcohol, so you may get the odd employee who thinks it’s ok to have more than one drink at lunch because they are used to drinking. Our best advice with this is to make it clear to all employees that having a drink at lunch is not appropriate.
If any of these topics are of concern to your organisation or you would like to discuss how we can help, please contact us - 03300 414 636