With temperatures expected to exceed 40C in the UK next week, we’re sorry to tell you there’s no official law about heat in the workplace.
The Met Office issued a red warning for heat next week and forecast some parts of England would reach 40 degrees. Most of the UK is still under an amber warning. For some, temperatures like that could mean work will become unbearable. But would it be hot enough to get a day off work to escape the heat?
No UK law regarding heat
Unfortunately, there isn’t a law in place in the UK regarding specific temperature in the workplace. However, the guidance says the temperature has to be “reasonable“.
Employers must “stick to health and safety at work” law and keep the temperature at “thermal comfort” while providing fresh, clean air.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable at work because of the heat, the advice is to speak to your employer to see what adjustments can be made.
Will this change?
Recently, a group of MPs backed a campaign to implement a maximum temperature in the workplace. The campaign proposes if a workplace reaches 30C, the heat in the workplace is too high. If your profession is strenuous, this limit would be 27C. The campaign already has 41 signatures but it’s very unlikely to come into place before the red warning hits.
How to stay cool
The HSE states employees should be allowed to work flexibly where they can and move working hours out of the hottest times of the day. Employers should also relax formal dress codes and use air conditioning where possible to avoid excessive heat in the workplace.
Those working outside are understandably more vulnerable. Trades union Unite has offered the following guidance: “If workers show any signs of heat exhaustion, the employer should immediately ensure they stop work and are allowed to recover, without loss of pay.”
However, advice to change working hours often isn’t that simple. Lots of construction jobs are limited by law for the hours they work, while those with children will need to consider childcare.
The main advice for the next week is to drink plenty of water, stay in shaded areas, and use fans and cool showers to reduce your temperature.
Good luck and stay safe!
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