When is it too hot to work?

Employers are being reminded of their responsibilities to help staff stay cool during periods of exceptionally hot weather.

There is no law in the UK or Ireland that determines when it is too hot to work but employers still need to be aware of certain obligations, says employment law and human resources specialist Martina McAuley from HR Team.

Hot weather

Hot weather

She outlines that the legislation clearly states there is an onus on employers to “ensure the temperature is deemed reasonable in all workplaces”.

With temperatures soaring to 30C this week and forecasters predicting a prolonged heatwave, “certain steps may need to be taken by employers”, she explains.

“While the law in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or the UK does not stipulate a temperature at which it is deemed too hot to work, it does state that the temperature in all workplaces should be reasonable.

“Of course, employers do need to consider the impact of workplace temperature as they have a general duty to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all employees.”

The HR specialist said implementing a number of simple measures can help combat excessive heat.

She continued: “Employers should bear in mind the importance of adequate ventilation and shade in all workplaces.

“Curtains and blinds can be closed to avoid radiant heat, while in most indoor work environments, open windows and doors will work to provide ventilation.

“Many workplaces have air conditioning - if this is installed, it’s vital it is serviced regularly.

“Fans can further reduce the heat and increase air circulation while rearranging desks - if they are in direct sunlight - can also help.

“Any especially ‘hot’ work processes might need re-scheduled for early morning.

“Outdoor workers should be encouraged to take adequate sun protection measures, including the wearing of protective clothing and the regular application of sun cream.

“Furthermore, all staff should be encouraged to drink more water during extra hot days and the provision of cold drinks will go a long way to keeping staff comfortable.”