All employers should know that there is a lower temperature limit, imposed by the HSA, at which it is considered that a person should not work. As a reminder this is set at 16 degrees C for those of us that are sitting in offices etc. and 13 degrees C for those doing more strenuous work. Now the TUC is calling for an upper limit as well. The suggestion is that those with more sedentary jobs should not have work when the temperature reaches 30 and those in strenuous jobs should not work once the mercury has reached 27 and as an addition the TUC wants employers to have a duty to bring in cooling measures as the workplace temperature reaches 24 degrees C.
The General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady has said “When it is hot outside, it’s no fun for those trapped inside in overheated offices” she went on to say, “Extreme heat can be as unpleasant as extreme cold and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will be affecting productivity”.
The TUC has suggested that employers should allow staff to adopt less formal clothing, distribute fans and provide portable air cooling cabinets, move desks away from windows, allow flexible working (to avoid the rush hour commute) and provide regular breaks so that staff can get cool drinks.
I have to think that any such suggestions about it being too hot to work will have been forgotten by the weekend when the ‘normal’ weather resumes and that the expense would be disproportionate for the one in ten years that we have a heat wave.
If you are receiving complaints, from your employees, about the heat you may want to call us for advice on how to respond. You may also want to consider adding a section in your employee handbook on “working environment” and changes to any dress code policy that may be relevant to extremes of temperature. Call us on 0845 070 0505 (Please note: Calls to this number will cost approximately 4p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge) (Please note: Calls to this number will cost approximately 4p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge).