Although there is a legal limit below which workplace temperatures should not fall (16°C), there is no upper limit. For many years the TUC has been pushing for a change in safety regulations to introduce a new maximum temperature of 30°C – or 27°C for those doing strenuous work – with employers forced to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24°C.
Amongst a number of possible measures to keep staff cool, the TUC says it would like to see employers install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave.
In the meantime the TUC has called for employers to relax their dress code for staff.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “When it’s hot outside, it’s no fun for those trapped inside in overheated workplaces.
“Extreme heat can be as unpleasant to work in as extreme cold, and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will also be affecting their productivity.
“Now is the time for employers to relax the dress code rules temporarily and allow their staff to dress down for summer. Making sure that everyone has access to fans, portable air conditioning units and cold drinking water should help reduce the heat in offices, factories, shops, hospitals, schools and other workplaces across the country.”