What government guidelines say about working in offices in hot temperatures

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 2:16 pm
Portable fans can be the lifesaver for many office workers during the summer (Photo: Shutterstock)
Portable fans can be the lifesaver for many office workers during the summer (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK is currently basking in a glorious heatwave which has seen temperatures climb to a toasty 30C in some parts of the country.

While the warm weather is idyllic for sunbathing, it can feel very stifling when working in a stuffy office, particularly if workplaces don’t have windows that open or have functional air conditioning.

But what does the law say about being sent home if temperatures reach a certain point in the office? Here’s what you need to know.

No set temperature

The official advice from the Government website states, “During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

“There’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, eg when it’s too cold or too hot to work.

“There’s no guidance for a maximum temperature limit."

Must be a ‘reasonable temperature’

The belief, therefore, that there is a maximum temperature is unfortunately misguided.

Health and safety requires workplace temperatures to be ‘reasonable’, which applies all year round.

The upper limit of this definition will depend on what type of work is being done as well as the working environment.

For example, it will be lower for those doing manual labour on a motorway than those sat in comfortable air-conditioned offices.

If you are disabled, your employer may have a legal duty to make adjustments if the weather affects an existing medical condition.

This is most common with illnesses or disabilities which make someone feel the temperature more acutely than others.

Top tips on how to stay comfortable at work

If your workplace allows it, you could ask your boss to relax the dress code and allow for employees to come in wearing something other than suits and business clothes.

Ask your employer to consider providing portable fans on the desk or, if it’s too cold, consider moving employees away from cold air-conditioning units.

Stay hydrated, by drinking plenty of water. Avoid caffeine as it can raise your core body temperature.

Lobby your manager to go on an ice lolly run. Cold drinks or summer snacks would work, too, and be great for team morale.