Business Law & Compliance
Common sense, not trade union intimidation, best approach to hot weather
5 min read
26 June 2017
Charlie Mullins believes a rational approach is best when it comes to dealing with Britain’s recent hot weather – not trade union scare tactics.
Yes, the hot weather has been pretty intense. If you haven’t experienced it, there is no doubt someone will have told you about the heat. It’s been so hot, in fact, that we’ve actually had the hottest June since the 1976 heatwave, which was, until last week, the all-time high since records began.
It’s been so hot that, for the first time in its history, Royal Ascot even bent its strict dress code in favour of a more relaxed “common sense” approach. And that’s the point – shouldn’t we all be taking a common sense approach?
It seems that when there’s any sort of significant change in the weather, it sends the British public into some sort of, excuse the pun, meltdown.
Ironically, it’s often the people who’ve been complaining about the generally year-round bad weather who quickly become irritable about the heat at the same time pub gardens become chock-a-block and we get the impression that there are more convertible cars on the road than normal.
And when it comes to being easily irritated, there are no better examples than the trade unions, which like to kick up a fuss at any opportunity.
The Trade Union Congress’ (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady was quick to highlight the obvious dangers of working in sweltering conditions and that employers should be giving staff a break by relaxing dress code rules and “ensuring staff doing outside work are protected”.
Once again, it seems that the TUC spouting a lot of hot air about staff conditions, suggesting that wicked business owners are chaining workers to their desks and laughing as they sweat profusely – making them “suffer unnecessarily in the heat for the sake of appearances”, as O’Grady puts it.
At Pimlico Plumbers, where we take immense pride in our appearance, we do allow our office-based staff to dress down if the weather gets a bit extreme, which it has been. Why? Because it’s all about common sense to ensure we keep to an acceptable, dress code that suits the situation.
Just as I wouldn’t rock up to an important meeting in shorts and a T-shirt, I wouldn’t expect anyone representing Pimlico Plumbers to do the same.
Our engineers will never turn up to a job in flip-flops and shorts. Our uniforms always stand out for the right reasons, but it’s also part of our strict adherence to health and safety. Every one of our plumbers, roofers, electricians, drain specialists and carpenters completely understand this position and they apply one of the best traits of Britishness there is, they just get on with it.
Despite what the TUC is saying, business owners should be given more credit for being more understanding in these types of situations than we’re actually given credit for.
Unfortunately the trade unions have been given ammunition as a result of some firms across the country sticking rigidly to rules rather than being practical, which has led to extreme responses – including men turning up in skirts.
These companies need bringing into line and consider some simple options when the thermometer mercury rises. Whether it’s a dress-code change or something more fun like handing out ice lollies to the workforce, a little bit of common sense can go a long way.
For my part, we’re lucky at Pimlico to have a roof terrace decked out with artificial grass and furniture for our staff to take advantage of at break times, but I have also ramped up the amount of air-conditioning units on the outside of the building pumping cool air around our HQ.
It looks like the hot weather is here to stay for a little while longer at least and, of course, people will moan that they’d rather be catching some rays in the garden or on a beach, but on the whole businesses are prepared to make life as comfortable as possible so we can get on with the job at hand. This is where, when tested to our limits, we show our true Britishness – we keep calm, stay cool and carry on.