Your Working Rights in a Heat Wave
- Minimum workplace temperatures
- What regulations protect workers in hot weather
- Can you keep your kids at home if it’s too hot?
Britain is currently having the highest temperatures in April for 70 years, as the country is final through the cold winter.
Similar to when there were freezing temperatures earlier in the year, there are special rights during hotter weather.
For those who are working during the hot spell, here’s what your rights are.
What does the law say on hot temperatures at work?
Legally, there is an obligation on employees to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace to maintain a suitable working environment.
However, while there is a lower limit of 16 degrees, there is no concrete upper limit, so it is unclear what counts as a reasonable temperature.
What can you do when it gets too hot in the workplace?
The Health and Safety Executive, HSE, says that a meaningful figure cannot be given at the upper end of the scale, due to high temperatures in places like glass works or foundries.
In these environments, it said it is still possible to work safely provided controls are present.
Factors other than air temperature- for example humidity and air velocity- become more significant and the interaction between them become more complex with rising temperatures, the HSE said.
What regulations protect workers during hot weather?
Employers are also required to make a ‘suitable assessment’ of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.
If you’re a more vulnerable employee- for example have a thyroid imbalance- or you need to wear protective equipment at work so can’t take off layers, this also has to be taken into account.
If you are uncomfortable at work, the best thing to do is tell your boss, and if enough people complain, then they have to act.
Can you go home in hot weather if you work outside?
Health and safety temperature laws only apply to indoor workplaces, but what if you work outside?
Similar to indoor workplaces, there is no maximum temperature, but employers are legally obligated to conduct risk assessments on workplaces to ensure that temperatures are ‘reasonable’.
Employers should ensure their workers have access to water and monitor the health of their employees in hot conditions.
If you have concerns that it’s too hot to do physical labour outside this week, then raise this with your employer.
Can you keep children home from school if it’s too hot?
Legally, you are not allowed to keep your children home during a heatwave.
Although new rules say that classroom temperatures shouldn’t be above 30 degrees, you could still get into trouble if you keep your child home when it is hotter than this, similar to taking them out of school to go on holiday.
Parents instead should make sure kids are well equipped for the mini heatwave.