Should there be a ‘too hot to work’ limit?

With extremely high temperatures forecast across the UK this week, a union has called for a legal limit on how hot it can be in a workplace.

The GMB said that employees should not be expected to work in temperatures exceeding 25C.

There is currently no law in the UK which states any given temperature is too hot or cold to work — although the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that workplaces should ideally be at least 16C, or 13C if the job is mostly physical.

A number of MPs recently backed a campaign for a legal upper limit of 30C in most workplaces, or 27C for those doing strenuous work, BBC News reports.

There is no maximum workplace temperature because every working environment is different, the HSE said. Workplaces with hot processes such as bakeries or foundries would not be able to comply with such a regulation.

However, employers must make sure indoor workplaces remain at a “reasonable temperature” and manage the risk of working outdoors in hot environments.

“Bosses must ensure their staff are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing for those working outdoors — or relaxed dress codes for those working in shops and offices,” said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.