According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of AirConUK, a “startling” number of employers don’t know the laws regarding temperatures in the workplace — leading to confusion as to whether it is too hot or too cold for employees to work.
This confusion means that on particularly hot or cold days, there is often conflict between management and so-called "workplace lawyers" — employees who have a vague but not entirely accurate idea of the regulations — leading to bad feeling and loss of production.
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, management is legally responsible for the welfare of staff and visitors on their premises. Regulation 7 requires that during working hours, the temperature inside buildings in all workplaces shall be “reasonable”.
In fact there is no temperature required by law, although the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set guideline limits as part of its code of practice.
The code advises that the working temperature should in normal circumstances be at least 16ºC. Where physical work is taking place it should be not less than 13ºC.
There is no maximum temperature specified, although HSE seeks to define an acceptable temperature as no more than 30ºC.
AirCon’s survey found that more than half of those managers and business owners questioned did not know these guideline limits. A third also admitted that they had come into conflict with employees over working temperatures.
Perhaps in view of the recent report on climate change, now would be a good time to introduce legal minimum and maximum temperatures for the workplace. What do you think?