Today we expect the thermometer to reach a tropical 32 degrees but what does the law say the maximum temperature should be in the workplace?
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the indoor temperature in the workplace should be ‘reasonable’, however it does not state what the maximum or minimum temperatures should be. Guidelines suggest that the minimum temperature should be 13-16 degrees depending on the type of work but there is no guidance on a maximum
Employees who are hot and uncomfortable are less likely to be productive.
You should encourage employees to keep hydrated and wear cool comfortable clothing, providing fans if possible and practicable. There is no requirement for a building to have air conditioning and whilst you should be reasonable in your approach to the dress code, employees should still dress appropriately for the work place. Any blatant disregard for the dress code, whatever the weather, should be dealt with in line with company policy and you may wish to consider sending an employee who are not suitably dressed for their job role home to change.
Could employees sue if the working environment is too hot?
If the workplace becomes or is prone to extreme fluctuations in temperature, the employer should conduct a risk assessment, according to HSE guidelines. Similarly, if a significant number of employees complain about the working conditions, a risk assessment should be carried out. A risk assessment alone is not enough. The employer should act on the findings of the risk assessment and inform employees as to whether any remedial action is required.
Employers should be alert to complaints and grievances raised by members of staff, as a failure to investigate and address these could result in a constructive unfair dismissal claim.
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