Whenever the weather gets very hot or very cold, Acas publicises or updates its guidance for businesses and other organisations. A recent mailing draws attention to its "top tips to help keep workplaces cool for employees during a heatwave", issued in August 2016. Obviously the tips apply to volunteers and other non-employees as well, and include:

  • Organisations should always provide workers with access to drinking water. Workers should be responsible and drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Organisations should pay special attention to vulnerable workers. The elderly and pregnant women are particularly at risk of suffering in the heat.
  • Where possible staff can use air conditioning, blinds, protective clothing and sunscreen during hot weather.
  • Organisations may choose to adopt a more casual or flexible approach to dress during hot weather days, but this may depend on the type of work.
  • For outdoor working, organisations should consider the introduction of more frequent, short rest breaks, encouraging staff to have cold drinks during hot weather.

Resources (all very short)

"Top tips to help keep workplaces cool for employees during a heatwave", Acas:
"Working temperature" guidance, Acas:
"Hot weather", Acas:
"Temperature at work – Heat", Trades Union Congress:
"Keeping staff motivated and at work during hot weather", HR News, 26 May 2017:

WORLD CUP FEVER (and other big events)

Whenever there is a big sporting event, royal wedding or other event that is likely to distract some staff, Acas provides guidance for organisations concerned about productivity if a significant proportion of staff want to book time off, use work time to watch or keep up events, or suddenly "become ill".

Its two-page World Cup 2018 guidance covers planning ahead, taking a flexible approach, time off, sickness absence, websites and social networking, and drinking or being under the influence at work.

Managing Volunteers during major events

Although the Acas guidance is intended for managing employees, the general principles (planning ahead, being fair etc) apply in much same way for managing volunteers.

However, because volunteer arrangements or agreements should generally be based on expectations rather than binding obligations, volunteer-using organisations are unlikely to have the same right to impose restrictions or disciplinary penalties on volunteers who want to take time off or do not turn up for work. Or if an organisation does impose such restrictions or penalties, it creates a risk – albeit tiny – that a disgruntled volunteer could successfully claim a contract has been created and they are legally a "worker" or employee, and therefore entitled to worker rights (national minimum/living wage, working time rights, equality rights) or even the full range of employment rights.

For more about how to avoid or reduce such risk, see chapter 1 (pp.6-17) in Mark Restall's Volunteers and the Law. Although published in 2005 by the sadly gone Volunteering England, the law on volunteers and employment rights has not changed, and is the same throughout the UK.Free download from Advocates for International Development:

source sandyadirondack 1817 16.05.18