Unions call for action as worker swelter in the heatwave

With July seeing some of the highest sustained temperatures the UK has seen for years, unions have called for greater protection for workers toiling in the sweltering heat.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “With heatwaves becoming more common, we need clear and sensible rules to protect working people.

“We’ve had legal minimum temperatures at work for a long time, which work very well. The Government must now act quickly on the recommendation by MPs for maximum limits on how hot workplaces can get.”

Meanwhile, Hayley Trovato, a Senior Associate at OGR Stock Denton Solicitors said: “During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

“An employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances. This will vary depending on the nature of the workplace and the type of work undertaken.

“Employers must comply with health and safety at work law, including keeping the temperature at a comfortable level and providing clean and fresh air.

“Meanwhile, employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature is not comfortable.

“Employers may want to consider altering their dress code to reflect the changing weather. However, again this very much depends on the nature of the workplace and the type of work. Employers should still be aware of health and safety at work law so, for example, they may not permit flip-flops to be worn.

“One approach may be employers to meet with their workforce to discuss a sensible approach for dealing with the hot weather.

“Also, they should ensure that there are plenty of thermometers in the workplace to keep a regular check on the temperature.”

For expert advice on employment legislation, please contact the Head of our Employment law team Susan Bernstein.

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