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Too hot to work?

Our clients are often surprised that there is no legal guidance on maximum workplace temperature. 

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that employers must maintain a reasonable temperature, but it does not specify a maximum temperature. 

There is guidance on when it's too cold to work with the Regulations specifying a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°C if the work involves considerable physical activity.

In this current heat wave, the guidance for Employers is to 

  • keeping the temperature at a "comfortable level"
  • provide clean and fresh air
  • consider relaxing dress codes where appropriate
  • encourage employees to notify them if the temperature becomes uncomfortable
  • consider work schedules and allow more regular breaks for employees whose work is physically active

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, called on employers to follow suit and relax workplace dress codes. “Obviously shorts and flip-flops won’t be the right attire for all workers, but no one should be made to suffer unnecessarily in the heat for the sake of appearances,” she said. In winter there are legal minimum workplace temperatures, but the TUC is proposing new regulations regarding maximum workplace temperatures – of 30C, with cooling measures to be introduced when the mercury exceeds 24C – to cover indoor workplaces in summer.”