Too hot to work? Your rights explained as heatwave hits country

Here are your rights when it comes to working in the heat

Here are your rights when it comes to working in the heat - Credit: Archant

Working during a heatwave may be too hot to bear.

But no matter what number the temperature climbs to, workers can't expect to be given time off.

It comes as the UK is gripped by a heatwave, with some places expected to hit sweltering highs of 40C over the next week.

The hottest day this week is predicted on Sunday, July 17, and the Met Office has issued a rare amber alert, warning of "extreme heat" which could cause adverse health effects or even serious illness, including for animals.

Here are your rights when it comes to working in the heat:

What is the law?

On the gov.uk website it states that during working hours the "temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable".

Guidance suggests a minimum of 16C or 13C if employees are doing physical work.

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There is no guidance for a maximum temperature limit.

What does Section 44 say?

Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 basically states that an employee cannot be penalised if they do something at work to avoid danger or the risk of danger.

It states that a worker "has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by the employer which could cause a risk to health and safety".

In circumstances of danger, the act states an employee is permitted to take appropriate steps to protect themselves from danger.

What is expected of an employer during hot weather?

Employers must stick to health and safety at work law. This includes:

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level
  • providing clean and fresh air

Employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable.

What if my job already involves extreme heat?

According to the Health and Safety Executive, in some workplaces, extreme temperatures can be created by the work itself, like in some manufacturing processes.

These temperatures can lead to serious health effects, such as heat stress and dehydration, if not managed effectively.

Workers should seek advice from their employer.