As temperatures continue to soar, many employees are struggling to keep their cool at work. So, when is it too hot to work?
Contrary to popular belief there is not a law that prevents you from working when the temperature rises on a one off occasion or for a sustained period.
However, employers are required to ensure your Health and Safety and in turn ensure that the workplace is safe and comfortable.
The only relevant law on this issue is the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which says that an employer must maintain a reasonable temperature where you work, but it does not specify a maximum temperature.
What is reasonable is of course very subjective and depends on your role and your tolerance level for the heat.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 may also provide additional protection to those with a disability, so that you have to make adjustments for someone at a disadvantage because of the heat.
Be a Good Employer
Aside from the legal implications of the high temperatures it is of course important to remember that you need to consider the people around you and your obligation to be a good employer! This could mean making adjustments, providing support or changing the way you work so as to ensure that everyone is as comfortable as possible.
It is possible that in future the law could be changed to provide mandatory procedures for employers or maximum working temperatures, however for now there are some practical steps you can take.
Practical Steps to Ease the Heat Pressure
- Amend your dress code policy
Allow staff to come to work in more casual and comfortable dress that is better suited to the heat.
2. Adjust working hours
Allow staff to work flexible hours to avoid travelling in the rush hour and avoid busier and longer journeys in a car/train or bus. Allow them to work during the cooler hours of the day thereby increasing productivity.
3. Provide fans / cooling facilities
4. Provide cold drinks and ice creams
5. Allow short notice holiday requests
If the needs of the business allow for it, encourage staff to take holiday when it is hot, and they can make the most of the weather.