The National Trust, which currently employs more than 10,000 UK-based workers, announced this week that workers would be able to take ‘siestas’ in the summer months, due to the effects of climate change.
Both staff and volunteers of the National Trust based in the south of England will be given working hours more in line with those considered a standard in Mediterranean countries, with earlier starting times, longer lunch breaks and later finishing hours.
This, the National Trust states, will allow teams who often work outside or in hot conditions, to avoid the summer heat, as reported by The Guardian.
“It’s fair to say that as we experience more extreme temperatures, we will be looking to offer Mediterranean working hours,” a spokesperson for the charity said.
“This is especially true in the east, which is likely to experience more frequent higher temperatures to ensure the health and safety of our staff and volunteers.”
The revised working structure is already in place in one National Trust location, Ham House in Richmond, London – where workers were forced to down tools for the first time in August of 2019 following temperatures of more than 40C.
The concept is now expected to be rolled out across the entirety of the National Trust’s locations in the coming years.
HR’s response to the UN’s climate report
The news comes following the recent release of a landmark report by the UN, which warned of droughts and flooding, increasingly extreme heatwaves, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over ten years.
UN Secretary General António Guterres was quoted by the BBC, as saying: "If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on Government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success."
With the study pointing towards some stark warnings, it could have follow-on impacts for employers and people regarding the way that they work.
For example, extreme weather could affect working conditions going forwards, eco-anxiety could impact staff wellbeing, and employers may also look to change how business is being conducted.