TOILING away in stifling offices can leave many wondering: when is it officially too hot to work?
As Britons are set to bask in a lengthy heatwave, here’s our guide to your rights in the workplace.
2 Employers have a duty to ensure comfortable working conditionsCredit: Getty Images
Can you go home from work if your office is too hot?
There isn’t currently a legally defined maximum or minimum temperature for offices and other workplaces.
Employers are obliged to ensure the conditions are “reasonable” – but that depends on the kind of work.
Guidelines suggest a general minimum of 16C, or 13C for those doing physical work such as in factories.
The Health and Safety Executive adds: “A meaningful maximum figure cannot be given due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries.”
Those who work in food cold stores or bakeries can expect extremes of temperature as part if the job.
But generally employers have a duty to “keep the temperature at a comfortable level” and provide clean and fresh air.
2 Unions have called for it to be illegal to make staff work if the temperature inside is above 30CCredit: Getty Images
Which are the temperature recommendations?
The level 3 or amber alert is in place until 09:00 BST Friday July 27 for much of the east and south-east of England. People are being advised to stay out of the sun. Employers have to answer ‘how hot is too hot?’ in the working environment.
The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends the following temperatures for different working areas:• Heavy work in factories: 13°C• Light work in factories: 16°C• Hospital wards and shops: 18°C• Offices and dining rooms: 20°C
What rights do I have if it’s too hot in the office?
Bosses should ensure their workers have access to water and monitor their wellbeing in hot weather, according to HSE guidelines.
If you’re a vulnerable employee – for example pregnant or menopausal, or you need to wear protective equipment so can’t take off layers – that has to be taken into account.
The HSE says: “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.”
So if you’re uncomfortable, tell your boss and if enough people complain they have to act, although that doesn’t necessarily mean you can go home.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE How hot does it have to get before you can leave work? BURNING ISSUE Working outdoors in the heat – what temperature is too hot to work outside? LONDON FORECAST A rather cloudy but dry and bright day with some sunny spells at times UK WEATHER FORECAST Rain will affect northern areas and be most persistent across Scotland CALM BEFORE THE STORM Brits to enjoy 30C sunshine before thunderstorms batter country HEAT RELIEF Hottest day of the YEAR forecast this weekend as 30C sizzler tops Barcelona
The TUC wants to make it illegal to keep people at work indoors if the temperature is above 30C.
It also wants bosses to supply cold drinks and fans and to relax dress codes in hot weather.
It has said: “When the workplace gets too hot it is more than just an issue about comfort – it can become a health and safety issue.
“If people get too hot, they risk dizziness, fainting, or even heat cramps.”
Here are some top tips for keeping cool, from making an “ice fan” to wearing cotton and avoiding big meals.
Weather forecast for Tuesday July 24rd shows a bright and warm start to the day with very humid conditions for the south by the afternoon