The temperature in the office is rising. How hot is too hot?

The sun is out. Half the people who normally share your morning commute are already on holiday so there’s plenty of room on the trains or in the car park. You’re checking the cricket scores every five minutes at work and lunch is a picnic. What can possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, sunshine and the holidays don’t always go smoothly. You don’t want to worry when you should be enjoying the summer, so QualitySolicitors have prepared a series of humorous but helpful scenarios, just in case.

John Baden-Daintree, Head of Legal Services for QualitySolicitors said:

At this time of year, the last thing most of us want to be worrying about is the law – but summer and holidays do throw up some interesting legal conundrums. We’ve put together a series of light-hearted scenarios illustrating potential summer legal problems.  It’s part of our effort to demystify law. We hope our stories will cause a smile or two as well as make the law a little clearer.

Office or sauna?

Summer in Britain is a changeable time; either it’s pouring with rain or we’re experiencing another 25c ‘heatwave’, with weather presenters warning anyone over the age of 50 to stay locked inside with a fan and a cold shower, for fear of heatstroke.

The workplace in the summer is a nightmare; glass windows turn the office into a greenhouse, and while you are covering for your colleagues who are on holiday, stretched out on beaches across the globe, you are locked inside this oven, shrivelling like a raisin from lack of hydration and feeling like you are going to pass out from heat exhaustion. 

What pressure can you apply on your boss to install air-conditioning, or better still, send you home for the afternoon? Unfortunately for you, there is no law on what the minimum or maximum workplace temperature should be. So, what can you do?

The best thing to do in this scenario would be to talk to your boss, explaining your sweaty predicament and asking whether they could provide you with a fan or hire in some portable coolers. If you are feeling the heat, it’s likely that your colleagues will feel the same, meaning that you might have some support in your request.

Having said that there are no hard and fast rules on workplace temperature, an indoor workplace should be at a ‘reasonable’ temperature, and although the definition of what this is varies widely between different people, the HSE states that this should be at least 16c. The health and safety of employees should always be considered when taking into account the type of work being carried out, which means that you shouldn’t have to spend your days feeling like you’ve taken an unwelcome summer holiday to the Sahara desert.

QualitySolicitors are a national network of law firms with over 100 offices across the UK.  During this (hopefully) long hot summer, a series of scenarios will be posted on, illustrating the Law of Summer, including:

  • Your neighbours party outside in their back garden until 3am, again. What should you do? 
  • What does your contract with the deck chair attendant entitle you to if the chair collapses underneath you?
  • Your barbecue poisons your guests. Are you liable?
  • How delayed does your holiday flight have to be before you are entitled to any compensation?
  • How much does flesh does your bikini have to cover for it not to be considered an affront to public decency?
  • An incompetent gardening firm kills your lawn. What can you do?
  • Suit and tie, or crop top and skimpy shorts. Can the boss enforce a dress code?
Posted in: employment law

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