How hot does it have to be to stop working during the heatwave?

12 July 2022, 07:33

You can leave work early if it's too hot
You can leave work early if it's too hot. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

What temperature does it have to be to leave the office this week? Here's the law in the UK...

Temperatures are set to continue rising this week, with things heating up to a whopping 35C by Sunday.

But with the whole country melting in the blistering sun, many people have been wondering how hot it needs to be to leave work.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Can you leave work early if it’s too hot?

There is a minimum temperature a workplace can be in the UK, which is 16C, however there has never been a maximum temperature under law.

Here's how hot it has to be to stop working
Here's how hot it has to be to stop working. Picture: Getty Images

An employee doesn’t have a legal right to ask to go home early this week.

However, employers have a legal responsibility to make sure their workers are comfortable.

As outlined by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, businesses have an obligation to ensure that the temperature in the workplace is ‘reasonable’.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives advice on how employers should ensure workers are comfortable, including controlling the temperature through the use of air conditioning units or an air dehumidifyer.

There are laws about the temperatures in offices
There are laws about the temperatures in offices. Picture: Alamy

It also says employees shouldn't be left in an environment where they are exposed to extreme temperatures for too long.

It is ultimately up to the employer to decide whether it is too hot to work, but they should also put things in place to make sure you are safe.

If working outdoors, bosses should introduce rest breaks and encourage them to keep hydrated.

For those working in offices, it might be best for workers to have a more casual dress code during the heatwave.

In 2018, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) urged businesses to let their employees get rid of their business clothes such as trousers and ties.

Companies are also encouraged to let workers change their hours when things get very hot.