HR in summer: sun, fun and workplace headaches

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007

FlipFlops.jpg

While our daily weather is not always an indicator, summer is just around the corner. It’s this season that can cause employers some of their greatest challenges.

People want to take time off during the next few months, but for some organizations, the summer months are busy, which makes letting employees go on vacation very difficult.

Finding the right balance between granting vacation time to employees anxious to play in the sunshine while meeting the organization’s needs is often tricky.

Work attire is another summertime headache. Employees, reveling in the warmer weather, find business-casual dress codes restrictive. Employers struggle with questions about bare legs, shorts, sleeveless T-shirts, midriff displays, and flip-flops.

How much skin showing is allowed?  Can men work without a shirt? Are sheer tops appropriate? Are cropped pants acceptable? Can employers have one standard for the office and a separate one for the plant? (The answer to this last one is “yes.”) According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com, the worst work apparel mistakes during summer months are: denim shorts, short skirts, revealing tops, flip-flops, workout attire, beach wear and concert T-shirts or shirts with offensive slogans or logos.

Then there are the temperature fluctuations and how to address them. What if someone is too cold and others are complaining of the heat? There seems to be no perfect air-conditioning setting.

That situation is far easier to resolve, however, than those in which employees are subjected to much higher heat levels because of their work. Employees in bakeries, foundries, maintenance shops or on construction sites or road crews can be in harm’s way just doing their job during the summer months.

Employers must be proactive about preventive measures to ensure that heat stroke, fainting and heat rashes are avoided. OSHA (www.osha.gov/STLC/heatstress/index.html) provides a wide variety of tips and materials that can be helpful to employers in planning how to respond to the summer heat when it arrives.

Summer activities are also an employer’s concern. Is the organization going to sponsor an employee baseball or softball team? How will injuries that occur be handled? Without a specific waiver, are they likely to fall under workers’ compensation? Will there be a company picnic? How will any injuries resulting from the water balloon toss or the extended stretch by a usually sedentary employee for that errant volleyball be handled? Will alcohol be served or allowed?

The potential for em-ployer liability for accidents or incidents, both at the picnic and on the drive home, associated with any provided or allowed alcohol can be a major concern.

Summer is supposed to be a fun time, the time when everyone’s spirits are a little lighter and more upbeat. But for employers, the season presents a whole set of issues.

Being thoughtful about what concerns exist, determining how best to protect the business, and being clear with employees about what is and isn’t acceptable in advance will go a long way to ensuring that everyone can enjoy the warmth and opportunities that come with the pleasant weather.

— Judy Clark, SPHR
CEO, HR Answers
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Read more...

Portland’s long-distance bike commuters

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
Matt KellyresizethumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Pushing the extreme.


Read more...

Inside the Box

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GINA BINOLE

Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?


Read more...

Bendafornia: What’s driving the Northern California migration?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
bendiforniathumbBY KEN MAES

A huge migration from Northern California has contributed to average 16% growth per year since 1990.


Read more...

Living the dream

News
Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS