Too hot to work from home? Here's what your employer can do – including giving you the day off

19 July 2021, 10:59

How hot is too hot for work?
How hot is too hot for work? Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

With the heatwave sending temperatures soaring, we ask how hot is just too hot to work from home.

Brits spent the weekend basking in the sunshine after a glorious heatwave bought sunshine and temperatures as high as 31 degrees in some areas.

Now it is Monday, and people are realising that the hot weather isn't as much fun when you're stuck inside working from home, which many people are still doing despite 'freedom day' arriving this week.

While most offices have air-con to keep you cool while you're working, people working from home are often stuck suffering in the blistering weather, especially if they live in poorly ventilated house.

Employers should be ensuring you are working in a 'reasonable' environment, so when is it too hot to stop working? Here's what we know:

The UK heatwave has left some people struggling to focus on work
The UK heatwave has left some people struggling to focus on work. Picture: Getty

When is it too hot to work in the office and at home?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992 do not state a temperature, but say that temperature conditions must be "reasonable".

While many companies will do everything to keep their offices at a reasonable temperature, it is a lot harder to monitor people working from their homes.

Employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, Mike Hibbs, told The Mirror that you can argue to your manager that it is too hot in your environment to work.

Confirming the information to The Sun, he said: "The fact that many employees are still working from home does not mean that employers can suddenly forget their health and safety responsibilities.

"All the usual rules apply, including the need to risk assess homes as suitable working environments."

He added: "In the workplace, employers usually rely on air conditioning and ventilation to regulate temperatures.

"However, at home many employees may not have this option and their only means of keeping cool will be to open windows.

“Ultimately, employee safety should always be an employer’s top priority and they cannot force staff to work if temperature and noise levels prohibit them from doing so."

You should talk to your manager if you feel your environment is too hot to work
You should talk to your manager if you feel your environment is too hot to work. Picture: Getty

So what can I do?

If you feel it is too hot to work, the first thing you need to do is make your manager aware, you can then work together to make sure you are more comfortable in your working environment.

If you're working from home, this can be a lot harder, but is still possible and important.

With Government guidelines currently allowing people to return to their offices for work, your employer could suggest you come into the office if you think you home environment is too hot to function.

Of course, you won't be able to do this if you are self-isolating due to the pandemic.

Some employers will choose to carry a risk assessment out on your working environment in order to decide on the next steps.

But ultimately, the decision whether it is too hot for you to work will be down to your employer's discretion.

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