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How hot is too hot in the workplace?

By George Heron, Martin-Kaye Solicitors, Telford

Workplace temperatures are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

These do not actually specify an absolute legal requirement with regards to minimum or maximum temperatures.

Guidance suggests that temperatures for offices should be at least 16 degrees Celsius whereas at the upper end of the scale, no specific figure is suggested.

The Code of Practice simply states that the temperature should provide “reasonable comfort”.

Whilst there will inevitably be disagreements over the temperature of a workplace, the only obligation employers are under is to provide a “reasonable” temperature.

Having said this, any complaints about the temperature should not be ignored.

This is particularly pertinent where certain employees may be affected more than others – for instance, elderly or pregnant individuals.

Taking all reasonable measures, such as supplying drinking water and increasing ventilation, will be sufficient to ensure that you have met your obligations.

There is, of course, the possibility (or should that be probability!) that employees who do not necessarily have specific needs may clash – particularly in open plan environments.

This will require careful management, perhaps including a vote for whether those affected wish to maintain, increase or reduce any internal temperature controls.

As long as you are fair and consistent, and there are no health and safety concerns, you are able to determine what temperature may be appropriate on any particular day.


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