Brits have been enjoying a sizzling heatwave that has brought in the hottest days of the year so far – but can you stop working if it gets too warm?
England and Wales saw their hottest days of the year so far on Sunday, with thermostats reaching 31.6C at Heathrow and 30.2C in Cardiff.
While on Saturday, it was the hottest day ever in Northern Ireland with 31.2C recorded in Ballywatticock, in County Down, and it reached 28.2C in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.
But the Met Office predicts the heatwave is set to continue, with temperatures of 32C possible for this week.
The Health and Safety Executive, which provides the regulatory framework for work place health and safety in Britain, says the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings must be “reasonable” for workers.
Employers also have to provide “clean, fresh air” as well as keep temperatures at a comfortable level – but there isn’t a set law in place that dictates a maximum temperature for when you can stop working.
Things also get a little muddied for the millions of workers told to do their jobs from home where most of us don’t have air conditioning installed.
The good news is that where you work doesn’t affect your rights.
Mike Hibbs, employment partner at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, told Mirror Money in an interview last year: “The fact that many employees are still working from home does not mean that employers can suddenly forget their health and safety responsibilities.
“All the usual rules apply, including the need to risk assess homes as suitable working environments.”
He added: “In the workplace, employers usually rely on air conditioning and ventilation to regulate temperatures.
“However, at home many employees may not have this option and their only means of keeping cool will be to open windows.”
And open windows can create more problems than it solves depending on your work.
Mr Hibbs said: “The potential for disturbance by noisy neighbours and street noise can make this impractical, especially if their work involves making telephone or video calls.”
And that means, if you can’t get somewhere cool to work from, your boss can’t keep you there.
“Ultimately, employee safety should always be an employer’s top priority and they cannot force staff to work if temperature and noise levels prohibit them from doing so,” Mr Hibbs added.
“Certain disabilities, such as COPD and arthritis, also make working in high temperatures particularly difficult, so considering any reasonable adjustments that need to be made to help them do their jobs safely is vital.”
If you’re feeling the heat, the HSE has the following tips:
- Add or remove layers of clothing depending on how hot or cold you are
- Use a desk or pedestal fan to increase air movement
- Use window blinds (if available) to cut down on the heating effects of the sun
- In warm situations, drink plenty of water (avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks)
- If possible, work away from direct sunlight or sources of radiant heat
- Take regular breaks to cool down in warm situations and heat up in cold situations
- Raise the issue with your managers or, if you can, with your union or other workplace representatives