Too Hot to Work?

Right now, we are experiencing some of the hottest temperatures ever! With record-breaking temperatures predicted for Tuesday, when does it get too hot for employees not to be able to work? At present whilst there is a limit on minimum workplace temperatures of 16 degrees (or 13 degrees if the work involves severe physical effort), there is no limit on the maximum temperature.

That does not mean that employers can force employees to work in oven like temperatures, because The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/3004) requires employers to ensure that temperatures in all workplaces inside buildings are reasonable. What is reasonable will vary from workplace and the type of work being carried out.

Last week an early day motion (EDM) which calls on the government to introduce legislation to ensure employers maintain reasonable temperatures in the workplace was signed by 38 MPs. The EDM calls for legislation to enforce a maximum temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees Celsius for workers doing strenuous work and to require employers to introduce effective control measures, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and heat sources. With the likelihood of heatwaves becoming more common in this country, it will be interesting to see if the maximum temperature is legislated.

However, for now employers should adopt a common sense approach by providing appropriate ventilation – failing which allowing people to work from home and indeed avoiding unnecessary work trips, particularly involving public transport

18th July 2022

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