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It’s getting hot in here – workplace responsibilities during hot spells

With temperatures soaring to above 30 degrees in parts of the UK this week, it is important for employers and employees to understand their responsibilities during the hot weather. A few common questions are answered below:

Is it ever too hot to work?

No. There is no maximum temperature set for a workplace. However the HSE does advise that “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”. ‘Reasonable’ is generally viewed as being no higher than 30 degrees or 27 degrees for those doing strenuous work.

Does an employer have to provide air conditioning for employees?

No. There is not legal requirement to provide air conditioning for employees when it is hot. However to maintain a productive workforce it may be advisable to take steps to keep employees cool – provide electric fans or air conditioning units, open doors and windows and ensure all heating is turned off.

Can I still insist on employees following the dress code and wearing their uniform?

Yes. If details of your dress code are included in your employee handbook or employment contracts, or it was made clear when they were appointed, you can still enforce the dress code when the weather is hot. However as before, it may be beneficial to productivity to be flexible during hot spells.

Does an employer have to provide cold drinks and ice creams?

No. Their obligation is to provide drinking water for employees. Again however, for the purposed of staff motivation and morale it may be worth treating employees to a round of cool drinks or ice creams. (The delivery of ice creams to Hopkins today was very gladly received!).

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