Labour Research February 2020

Law Queries

Temperature at work

Q. I work in an office in a poorly-insulated building and it’s really cold. I’ve complained to my employer many times but nothing has been done about it. What can I do?

A. There’s no specific law stating a minimum or maximum temperature for workplaces, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that the temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16°C, or13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort.

Regulation 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which regulate the working environment, says the temperature during working hours in all workplaces inside buildings “shall be reasonable”. 

The accompanying Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) says: “If a reasonably comfortable temperature cannot be achieved throughout a workroom, local heating … should be provided”. An employer who is prosecuted for breach of health and safety law will need to show that they have either complied with the ACOP or used alternative methods to comply with the Regulations.

Workplace temperature is a potential hazard that can be addressed through a risk assessment under the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.