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Can I leave work if it’s too hot?

Posted on: 14/07/2022

Employment lawyers in the South have warned that there is no maximum temperature at which staff can demand to go home because it is too hot.

Regional law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors explained that it is a popular myth that work can stop once the mercury hits a certain number – although temperatures must be at a ‘reasonable’ level.

The explanation of UK laws and employee rights has been sparked as heatwave Britain sizzles in temperatures which have soared above parts of the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Kate Brooks, a Partner and Head of Employment at Ellis Jones, said: “The heat is on in workplaces.

“How hot is too hot? That is the question as people begin to ask at what temperature it is too warm to work.

“However, it is a myth that such a figure exists and ultimately it is up to the employer to decide whether the workplace temperature is suitable for workers.”

According to Workplace Regulations of 1992 employers have a responsibility to ensure that conditions are ‘reasonable’ for workers in offices and similar environments although there is no stated temperature threshold.

Employers are required to keep the ‘temperature at a comfortable level’ and for providing ‘clean and fresh air’.

Employees are urged to talk to their managers if the workplace temperature is uncomfortable, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Kate said: “Responsible employers will understand their duty of care and take measures to mitigate high temperatures both for the benefit of their people and business continuity.

“Of course, there are nuances. For example, some employers will have higher heat thresholds or may have underlying health conditions while some roles may be affected more than others.

“Employers will also need to check on staff working from home and may need to provide fans, blinds or take other measures to support them.

“Ultimately, much comes down to common sense and employers following health and safety at work law but also listening to staff when they raise concerns and taking any reasonable steps.”

According to the HSE a legally binding maximum temperature cannot be set because of the conditions present in certain settings, such as factories and foundries, where it is possible to work safely provided appropriate controls are present.

Ellis Jones has more than 170 staff including 21 Partners in five offices across the south coast.

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