As temperatures across England and Wales soar this week, so do many workers levels of discomfort.
But can you get a day off work?
Many employees believe there is a maximum workplace temperature set by the law which, once reached in the summer, means they’re entitled to be sent home from work. Unfortunately this is not the case – yet.
The Trades Union Congress wants to make it illegal to keep people at work indoors if the temperature is above 30C and protection in place for people working outside or driving for a living too.
The good news is that there are still rules that can let you leave an office that is too hot.
“An employer must provide a working environment which is, as far as is reasonably practical, safe and without risks to health. In addition, employers have to assess risks and introduce any necessary prevention or control measures,” the TUC explains.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that: ‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’ – When defining reasonable, you need to take into consideration the nature of the workplace such as a bakery, a cold store, an office or a warehouse.
There are six basic factors an employee should look at including air temperature, radiant temperature (i.e. the temperature radiating from warm objects), air velocity, humidity, and what clothing or insulation workers are expected to wear.
The law also states that if ‘a significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort’ then it’s the employer’s responsibility to carry out a risk assessment, and act on its results, adjusting the workplace temperatures:
- If your office is air-conditioned, the employer must assess things if 10 per cent of staff complain
- If your office is not air-conditioned, 15 per cent must complain
- In shops and warehouses 20 per cent of staff need to complain
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