HR legislation, hot weather and the maximum working temperature

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hot weather office
According to some weather forecasters, this year is predicted to be the hottest on record. If this is predicated, then we’d also predict that many employees will complain about the heat – as they did the snow last winter. You will probably also get someone saying “legislation says its too hot to work…!”

As per normal, the law is silent on the maximum temperature stating that it needs to be “reasonable” based on the working environment. Whereas in the winter months, the minimum temperatures should be between 13 degrees and 16 degrees centigrade, depending on whether there is some for of physical activity or not. Actually, employees have no right to go home when the temperature reaches a certain figure on the mercury level – so you can confidently turn down these requests.

But what does “reasonable” mean in the real world? Any complaints about the heat must, as always, be taken seriously as it does effect some people more than others, for example pregnant women and the elderly. Ways you can alleviate the discomfort is to open windows, where this is permissible, supply extra fans and perhaps grant extra breaks. You must, however, ensure drinking water is supplied but not necessarily chilled nor bottled.

Should an employee leave to go home due to the heat, provided you’ve done all you can reasonably do to assist, it will be hard to prove that he’s not gone AWOL and as such, disciplinary action may be justified.

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