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Despite working from home, in some cases in the garden, many employees will have felt a certain reluctance to put in a full shift today with temperatures in some parts of the country in the high 20s centigrade – a novel experience so far this year.
Plans for the weekend are probably being hatched at a higher rate than for any previous couple of days this year, because of the poor weather and ubiquitous sport on TV, and next week the settled warm period continues as far as the Met Office is prepared to predict in much of the UK.
Temperatures are not, so far, forecast to reach the sweltering heights of the previous two summers but it is worth remembering that employees are not working in air conditioned offices and many will not have sufficient outdoor areas to relax and cool down in when not working.
Some may find themselves overheating at home. But what are employers' responsibilities?
Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that the temperature in the workplace is “reasonable”, as outlined by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
However, neither a maximum nor minimum temperature is stipulated.
Trade unions and some MPs have, for several years, urged the government to adopt a maximum workplace temperature of 30ºC for non-manual work and 27ºC for manual work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has defined an acceptable zone of thermal comfort of “roughly” between 13ºC and 30ºC.
The government remains wedded to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, under which employers have an obligation to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace. No specific maximum limit has been set, despite the regulation suggesting a minimum workplace temperature of “normally” 13ºC to 16ºC for physical work.
According to the TUC