Most of the UK is experiencing a heatwave this week, with the hot weather set to get hotter beyond the weekend. For those of us not fortunate enough to enjoy air-conditioned offices it’s certainly uncomfortable, but what exactly are your rights when it comes to working in the heat? When is it legally too hot to work?
SME Today got comments from an employment lawyer and a personal injury lawyer .
“The climate crisis and the increasing cost of energy has caused some firms to reduce their electricity bills by not using the air conditioning system in the indoor workplace. However this should be balanced with the need to protect workers, especially those working in factories. Employees struggling with the heat may be more likely to take sick days, or could take legal action against the company if they suffered from serious injury from working in the heat without protection, which could cost the business more in the long run. Companies should consider investing now in energy efficiency strategies to minimise their bills in the long run, rather than compromising employee safety in the hot weather.”
“Working in environments that are too hot carries the risk that an employee could develop heat stress. It is important that employers carry out a thermal risk assessment and identify ways to reduce the risks associated with their employees working in hot weather.
“In offices this could include providing air conditioning, desk fans or standing units. For outdoor work protective clothing, sunglasses, bottled water and sunscreen could be supplied. Regular rest breaks, changes to shift patterns, reduced hours, and working practices can also be implemented.”