Can You Just Go Home If It Gets Too Hot At Work?

Posted: 19.06.2017

We know it can be hard to keep motivated in the office when the sun is shining and temperatures are soaring. With the UK sizzling in the 32C heat today – many people will be wondering if it gets too hot, could you be sent home? 

Unfortunately not - there isn’t a legally defined maximum or minimum temperature for offices in the UK. 

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 say: “During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”. What is reasonable depends on the type of work being done (manual, office, etc.) and the type of workplace (kitchen, air conditioned office, etc.).

The Health and Safety Executive, who issue the guidelines, states that temperatures should be at least 16C or 13C if the work involves rigorous physical effort.

It claims that a maximum figure cannot be given to due to high temperatures of working in some places, for example, a glass works or foundry.

Although, the TUC (UK Trade Union Centre) called for regulations to be put in place that would allow workers to go home if the temperature of their workplace reached 30C (or 27C when doing physical activity).

TUC also wants the employers to;
  • Allow staff to adopt less formal attire (casual lightweight clothes, jackets off)
  • Ensure that outside workers have sunscreen and water which is given to them as and when needed to protect themselves. 
  • Distribute fans to staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets. 
  • Allow flexible working hour so that staff have the option of coming in earlier and staying later avoiding the rush between the morning and evening commute. 
  • Allow staff to take frequent brakes and provide a supply of cool drinks. 
It is also said that employers should start taking measures to cool the workplace down in the temperatures went above 24C.

So how hot does it need to be to complain to your employer about the heat?

As there is no official limit, this means you can get action taken as long as it's uncomfortable. 

"If a significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort, your employer should carry out a risk assessment, and act on the results of that assessment," the HSE explains.

Employers must also take vulnerable employees into account, for example, people who have a thyroid imbalance or those undergoing the menopause.

So if you're uncomfortable, just let your employer know.

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