Can it Ever be Too Hot to Work? - MLP Law

Can it Ever be Too Hot to Work?

  • Employment Law
  • 15th Jul 2022

As the Met Office has issued a rare amber weather extreme heat warning for most of England and half of Wales from Sunday 17 July 2022, Julie Sabba, an associate in Employment at MLP, considers employer’s obligations, in relation to reasonable working temperatures. Temperatures are already in the high 20s/early 30s and are predicted to […]

By Leanne Roberts

MLP Law

As the Met Office has issued a rare amber weather extreme heat warning for most of England and half of Wales from Sunday 17 July 2022, Julie Sabba, an associate in Employment at MLP, considers employer’s obligations, in relation to reasonable working temperatures. Temperatures are already in the high 20s/early 30s and are predicted to rise to over 35 degrees in the South-East. Unless your workplace has air conditioning, these sorts of temperatures will make working sticky and unpleasant.

An amber warning is only given where weather conditions are likely to cause adverse health effects leading to potential serious illness or danger to life. A Met spokesperson said that ‘substantial changes in working practices and daily routines (are) likely to be required’ over the next week or so.

Regulation 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, requires employers to ensure that the temperature in their workplaces is ‘reasonable’. Contrary to popular opinion, there are no legal minimum or maximum working temperatures.

So, what does ‘reasonable’ mean?

Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that temperatures should be ‘at least’ 16°C’ or 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort, but it doesn’t set a limit on maximum temperatures. This is because certain workplaces (glass works, launderettes, bakeries etc) will always be far hotter than most other workplaces. But it states that even where staff are working in very hot environments, they can still work safely ‘provided appropriate controls are present’.

What’s reasonable will therefore vary from workplace to workplace and the HSE recommend that you take steps to assess and combat any risks associated with working in high temperatures, such as:

• ensuring staff have access to plenty of drinking water;
• providing sun tan lotion to staff working outdoors; and
• giving staff the opportunity to have breaks in cooler areas of the workplace (with air conditioning if possible).

If you would like advice from the Employment team at MLP Law in respect of any of the issues raised here or more generally, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @HRHeroUK.

About the expert

Stephen Attree

Managing Partner

Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.

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