Unions call for action as worker swelter in the heatwave

With July seeing some of the highest sustained temperatures the UK has seen for years, unions have called for greater protection for workers toiling in the sweltering heat.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “With heatwaves becoming more common, we need clear and sensible rules to protect working people.

“We’ve had legal minimum temperatures at work for a long time, which work very well. The Government must now act quickly on the recommendation by MPs for maximum limits on how hot workplaces can get.”

Meanwhile, Hayley Trovato, a Senior Associate at OGR Stock Denton LLP said: “During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

“An employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances. This will vary depending on the nature of the workplace and the type of work undertaken.

“Employers must comply with health and safety at work law, including keeping the temperature at a comfortable level and providing clean and fresh air.

“Meanwhile, employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature is not comfortable.

“Employers may want to consider altering their dress code to reflect the changing weather. However, again this very much depends on the nature of the workplace and the type of work. Employers should still be aware of health and safety at work law so, for example, they may not permit flip-flops to be worn.

“One approach may be Employers to meet with their workforce to discuss a sensible approach for dealing with the hot weather.

“Also, they should ensure that there are plenty of thermometers in the workplace to keep a regular check on the temperature.”

Civil Partnership case goes to Supreme Court

Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan take their case today to the Supreme Court to secure the same legal recognition as same-sex civil partners without getting married.

In February last year, the Court of Appeal agreed that the couple are being treated differently because of their sexual orientation, which impacts on their private and family life. This was to allow the government time to evaluate whether to extend civil partnerships to all. The Queen’s Speech following last year’s General Election did not include any indication that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 would be amended to extend civil partnerships to all.

Earlier this year, the issue of extended rights for unmarried couples was debated in the House of Commons and passed to the next stage through Parliament. During that debate, the government was allowed to amend the bill to review the operation of civil partnerships. Further evidence about the demand and need for civil partnerships is likely to be available by July 2018.

Graeme Fraser, partner at Finchley-based OGR Stock Denton comments as follows: “I anticipate that the Supreme Court will rule that the current law is discriminatory so long as civil partnership remains as an option only for same-sex couples.

“This does not, however, mean that new legislation will be quickly introduced since policymakers may consider alternative options, including the abolition of civil partnerships altogether, with marriage retained as the formal recognition of both opposite-sex and same-sex unions.

“The government will likely await the outcome of their review into the operation of civil partnerships expected this Summer in any event before making any final decision regarding new legislation.

“A change in the law extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples would allow those that opt for them similar financial security to marriage thereby extending their choice as to how they formalise their relationships.

“Parliament should, however, first address as a matter of priority, the more pressing issue of introducing specific family law remedies to protect vulnerable cohabitants, many of whom are often women with children left with no financial security because their partners who are in a stronger financial position will not or cannot marry them or enter into civil partnerships.

“Until then, for the estimated 3.3 million cohabiting, obtaining legal advice can help them decide arrangements that are right for them and their children if the couple separate or one of them are left bereaved”