What Temperatures Are Illegal for People to Work In?

During cold winters and warm summers, many people find themselves asking what temperature it is illegal to work in. The answer is that this depends on where you are based. The requirements can vary massively from country to country.

In the UK there are no minimum or maximum temperatures for when it is too hot or cold for people to work. There are some guidelines published by the government for the minimum working temperatures, however. The government recommends a working environment of no colder than 16 degrees Celsius for office environments, and 13 degrees Celsius if the employees are doing physical work.

There is no guidance for maximum temperatures. It is a good idea for employers to keep the temperature at a comfortable level by opening doors and windows or using air conditioning, and by allowing employees to take breaks or use refreshments.

The same is true in certain parts of Australia. For example, in Victoria, there are no statutory limits and no regulations on the temperatures to which a worker can be exposed. Employers do, however, have a legal obligation to provide their employees with a safe and healthy working environment.

What to Do if it is Too Hot or Cold at Work

If you feel that it is too hot or cold in your workplace for you to be able to work comfortably, you have a few options. Firstly, collect evidence showing the issue. Take temperatures, log absences, and ask people to make notes about any issues that the heat (or cold) is causing them.

Make an appointment to talk to your employer and try to work with them to reach an agreement about heat policies. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer then consider contacting your union or the health and safety regulators in your area.

In the short term, you may find that you have to continue working. Unfortunately, there is no law which says that if it is scorching hot, or snowing, you can have the day off. You are entitled to a safe working environment, however, and you can talk to your employer about the concerns that you have and refuse to do anything that will compromise your safety. Be aware, however, that proving there is a risk to your safety can be difficult without making extensive notes about the conditions in your workplace and the type of work that you are doing.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as formal legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Specific legal advice should be sort tailored to the individual circumstances in all cases.

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    We can be contacted 24 hours a day.
    Our Reading Head Office address is:

    Davidson House
    Forbury Square
    RG1 3EU
    0118 914 5622
    07850 952245