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Heatwave in Kent leads Whitehead Monckton law firm to offer advice on employee rights

Kent is to be hit by a heatwave this week, with expected highs of 37C but normal life will continue.

Many of us will be sat in the office, pulling at our collars and blasting the fans, trying to keep as cool as possible.

Considering the Met Office has now issued a level three heat warning for the county, we asked a Tenterden-based employment specialist about workers' rights when it gets unbearably hot.

The Met Office has issued a level three heat warning for Kent

Louise Purcell, associate solicitor at Whitehead Monckton, explained there is actually no specific maximum temperature for the workplace.

However, as stated in the Workplace Regulations 1992, employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their staff, which means keeping the office at a "reasonable temperature".

A failure to comply with this could result in legal action.

Ms Purcell said: "Employers are legally required to make sure the workplace remains at a reasonable temperature and they should take this matter seriously.

An employment specialist has revealed workers' rights when the office becomes unbearably hot
An employment specialist has revealed workers' rights when the office becomes unbearably hot

"What's reasonable will vary from one place to another but employers certainly have a duty to make sure they're staff are kept well.

"When people are too warm they are likely to be less productive so keeping things cool with also help with staff morale."

Despite there being no maximum temperature, offices should be warmer than 16C - but this definitely won't be a problem this week.

For those working outside under the sun, there is neither a maximum nor a minimum temperature stated in the Workplace Regulations.

Louise Purcell, associate solicitor at Whitehead Monckton
Louise Purcell, associate solicitor at Whitehead Monckton

Ms Purcell often assists employers with drafting adverse weather policies and her general advice is "just use common sense".

She said: "Bosses are legally required to provide drinking water, but might also want to consider a more relaxed dress code to allow for cooler clothing.

"They should look out for those most vulnerable to warm weather, such as people with certain health conditions or pregnant women.

"They should also be aware of anyone fasting."

If you are finding your office too hot to work, it is recommended you talk to your manager or employee representative - enough people complaining means the HR department have to look into it.

If you still have no joy, you can write to your local environmental health officer or the Heath and Safety Executive.

"Employers are legally required to make sure the workplace remains at a reasonable temperature and they should take this matter seriously..." Louise Purcell, Whitehead Monckton law firm

Ms Purcell added: "I know from working in offices myself how colleagues often argue about air con levels - it's especially a problem in open-planned offices.

"Communication is key and bosses need to try and resolve any disputes and compromise.

"The main things are to wear cool clothing, stay hydrated and keep the blinds down in the office."

Above all, no matter how hot and flustered you might be getting, try to keep your cool.

For all the forecasts, warnings and weather related news, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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