Over the past few weeks, we have seen more than our fair share of sunshine, but how hot is too hot to work?
It is important for employers and employees to know their rights and obligations when working in warm (or indeed cold) weather conditions.
It may be surprising to know that whilst there is a minimum working temperature of 16 degrees (or if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort 13 degrees), there is no maximum temperature that offers guidance to employers on when it is too hot to work.
Should you get a day off when a heatwave hits?
No, we cannot expect a day off when a heatwave hits, as there is no maximum temperature for working.
Instead (and because every workplace is different) employees are advised to talk to their employer if they feel that the workplace isn’t comfortable, and the employer should take reasonable steps to ensure that they are in line with health and safety law.
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare)Regulations 1992, employers are under a legal obligation to ensure that workers are comfortable in their working environment. What is reasonable depends on several factors, such as the type of workspace and the personal factors of the employee. Working in extreme weather conditions is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous and employers should therefore take particular care and consider the wellbeing of employees who are pregnant, suffer from heart conditions or who are menopausal.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to undertake a risk assessment to assess the working conditions and act where necessary.
Common actions that could be taken by employers in warmer weather conditions include, for example, providing outdoor workers with the option of flexible working hours (outside the warmest time of day, which is normally 11am-3pm), ensuring access to cold water or regular breaks to cool off. For those who usually work indoors, they could be allowed to work from home or be provided with fans if air conditioning is not available.
Employers should engage with their employees to discuss the best ways to cope with high or low temperatures. Not only will this improve the working environment, but it will enable employers to act on their findings and taking steps to reduce any risks that are present during different seasons.
If you are an employer who requires advice on this or any other employment law matter, please contact our Stoke-on-Trent solicitors on 01782 205000 or our Altrincham solicitors on 0161 929 8494 or email email@example.com.