Fact Service August 2020

Issue 32

TUC calls for law on workplace temperatures

The recent heatwaves have led the TUC to call for flexibility on the part of employers and for a new law on maximum temperatures in the workplace.

It says employers can help their workers by:

• allowing flexible working: letting staff avoid the rush hour or work from home where possible;

• keeping workplaces cool: having windows that can be opened, using fans, installing ventilation or air-cooling;

• temporarily relaxing dress codes;

• keeping staff comfortable: allowing staff to take frequent breaks and providing a supply of cold drinks;

• talking and listening to staff;

• allowing sensible hours and shaded areas for outdoor work.

There is no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures. However, the temperature in indoor workplaces must be “reasonable”.

Guidance suggests a minimum of 16degC, or 13degC if employees are doing physical work. Employers have a duty to keep the temperature at a comfortable level and provide clean and fresh air.

The TUC would like to see a change in the law to introduce a new maximum indoor temperature, set at 30degC – or 27degC for those doing strenuous jobs – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24degC.