HR FAQS – When is it to hot to work?

Date: Friday, 5th July, 2019

Last week saw the hottest heatwave in Europe since 2003, with temperatures in excess of 40C.  As a result the UK is basking in above average temperatures and while of course it’s nice to have hot weather, what happens to people working when the mercury rises?

Rules around temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.   However, there is no law around maximum workplace temperatures, regulations simply require temperatures to be “reasonable” and this applies all year round.

Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures, as it can cause issues when temperatures outside are very hot and result in warmer workplaces.  The best way is to undertake a risk assessment to help determine a reasonable workplace temperature; are there windows that can be opened or machines that generate a lot of heat?  Don’t discount your employees opinions, see what their view is on comfortable working temperature.

Of course you will have employees that moan weather the office is too hot or too cold, but please don’t just ignore their pleas, don’t let them have cause to raise any grievances.  Have you fans that they can use in the office or portable air conditioning units?

It is also important to drink plenty of water and employers must provide suitable drinking water in the workplace. 

Please be aware that if you employ pregnant or disabled employees or those on medication that are directly affected by the heat (or the cold if the air conditioning is turned up to reduce the warmer temperatures) you have a legal obligation to make workplace adjustments.

You are under no obligation to relax the dress code or uniform requirements during hot weather, but it may be wise to allow employees to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days. This does not necessarily mean that shorts and flip flops are appropriate, rather employers may relax the rules in regards to wearing suits and ties.

If you need any further guidance give us a call and see how we can help.

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