A heatwave is expected any day now in the UK, with daytime temperatures expected to exceed 30 degrees celsius. As an employer, it’s important that you know what’s expected of you if the heatwave does materialise.
In times of cold weather, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) suggest a minimum temperature of 16 degrees celsius (reducing to 13 degrees if the work is indoors and involves ‘severe physical effort’).
However, contrary to popular belief, there is not a suggested maximum temperature for places of work. When temperatures rise, the level of comfort for your staff is dependent on a variety of other things including humidity and air circulation. In short, during hot weather there is no one single factor that easily determines whether or not working conditions are reasonable.
What is expected of you as an employer during a heatwave?
Check that temperatures are acceptable, and specifically ask staff to notify you if temperatures get too high
Ensure that staff have adequate access to drinking water and that those entitled to breaks are taking them
Consider temporarily relaxing your dress code, if appropriate for the duration of the heatwave
Remember that the heat will also affect other visitors to your office such as suppliers and customers, so ensure that they too remain comfortable
Don’t forget to ensure that all windows and doors are closed at the end of the day, and try to avoid leaving fire doors open, even during the day