When Is It Too Hot To Work?


As part of the incoming heatwave that the Met Office has advised us of, temperatures are set to reach 30C in some places. Many workers will more than likely be feeling extremely uncomfortable when working.

So what can we as business owners do? Is there a maximum acceptable temperature before employees are sent home? These are some of the questions you as an employer may be asked over the forthcoming days or even weeks.

What Does The Law Say?

According to the Workplace Health & Safety Regulations 1992, employers need to ensure that the air is clean and fresh. There is also a legal obligation to ensure employees are expected to work in temperatures that are reasonable.

The difficulty is, as we are all aware, everyone has their own interpretation of “reasonable”.

As there is actually no set maximum temperature laid out for the workplace, some employers are unsure on how to respond to employees stating they are too hot to work.

The Trade Union Congress believe that the ideal temperature for businesses to aim for is lower than 24C – with a temperature of 30C being the absolute limit for an office worker. It is lower – at 27C – for those carrying out manual work or involved in more strenuous tasks.

Despite previous efforts for there to be a maximum temperature in place, the fact is that currently there is nothing legalised here in the U.K.

So what positive steps can we take?

We communicate!

We ask our employees how they feel and let them know that they can approach us if they are uncomfortable with the heat. As business owners we are the ones responsible for providing a safe and comfortable environment for our employees. It is a legal requirement.

After all, it is ultimately up to us as the employer, to decide what circumstances are or aren’t suitable for work.

To help you do that, here are some pointers that may assist you on this subject, depending on what sort of environment you work in.

For those who have employees working outdoors;

  • Encourage rest breaks and ensure they have access to drink water.
  • Ensure they are taking their rest breaks or even give them extra

If you run an office;

  • Again, ensure they have access to water
  • Consider – could the dress code be relaxed? (although monitored, you don’t want any bikini tops or scanty clothing that then causes you a different issue!)
  • Ensure windows are shaded where possible
  • Could desks be moved so they are not in direct sunlight or if not possible, could workers be rotated?
  • Can Air Conditioning or fans be provided?
  • Try and ensure that any exposed hot pipes can be insulated

All of these measures will help towards the wellbeing of staff and potentially have a positive impact of businesses. In turn, failure to do so may see an increase in absence or unauthorised leave during these hot summer days.

How We Can Help

If you have any questions about dealing with this or any other HR matter, please either give me a call on
07553 362150
or complete the form below and I will call you!