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Can you stop working from home if it is too hot?

Jun 1st, 2021

Kate Hindmarch, Partner

As we start to enter the summer months, we will begin to see temperatures soar across the UK. Employers and employees alike may face questions on workplace conditions when it potentially gets too hot. Here Kate Hindmarch, Employment Lawyer  discuses the legal rights of employees during a heatwave.  

Can you stop working if it's too hot? 

Employers have a duty of care to keep their employees safe, which is extended to include those who are still working from home. The health and safety regulations that an employer must legally follow are set out in The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Regulation 7 requires that all workspace temperatures be ‘reasonable’.

Employers cannot forgo this responsibility, while their employees may be working from home, as in fact they can potentially be at a higher danger of being impacted by the heat due to a lack of air conditioning and proper ventilation.

What is classed as 'too hot'?

There is no official ‘too hot’ temperature, therefore it will depend upon the space in which an employee is working. This is why working from home can make it more difficult to be able to tell when it is too hot to work.

What should employees do if it's too hot to work?

While it is vital for employers to ensure that their workplaces are comfortable and reasonable to work in, they should also keep in mind that some employees might be more susceptible to the impact of high temperatures.

Employees should talk to their employer and inform them if the heat is having a significant impact on their ability to complete their work tasks, and avoid putting themselves under undue pressure.

If an employee is feeling ill or worn out due to the heat an employer should encourage them to seek out medical assistance and take a break from work.

Considering current coronavirus guidelines, can your employer make you come into the office if it's too hot for you to work from home? 

The government’s current guidelines still encourage the public to work from home where possible, so for most employees unless work cannot be done from home it is best to encourage employees to continue to work away from the workplace, especially as poor ventilation has been linked with the spread of  Coronavirus.

Although if an employee feels that the workplace might be cooler, an employer can encourage them to come in and work there as long as they are still following all COVID-19 guidelines.

What can employers do to help employees keep cool when working in the hot weather? 

Employers should follow all medical advice when dealing with high temperatures, including making sure a workplace remains ventilated. They should make sure that all steps are also compliant with the COVID-19 regulations while offering regular breaks to allow staff to stay hydrated.

If you have any employment or related matters, please contact us for an initial discussion.

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