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Workplace Temperatures


An early day motion has been put forward by an MP to introduce legislation to require employers to maintain reasonable temperatures in the workplace. An early day motion is a proposal to debate a subject matter in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity. Early day motions are rarely debated but they do draw attention to a particular issue. This particular early day motion has been signed by 38 MPs. 

The early day motion asks for legislation to be brought in to enforce a maximum temperature of 30°C in the workplace or alternatively 27°C for workers doing strenuous work. Furthermore, it also requires employers to introduce effective control measures, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and heat sources. The last time that a maximum workplace temperature was raised as an early day motion was in 2013. 

Currently, there is no legal limit upon the maximum temperature that operates in a workplace. Regulations from 1992 simply require employers to ensure that temperatures in all workplaces inside buildings are reasonable. There is an approved code of practice which sets a limit on minimum workplace temperatures of 16°C, or 13°C if the work involves severe physical effort.  Rather unusually, there has been a rush by supermarket workers to work in the chiller section due to the latest temperatures.  This is certainly an exception to the norm.

It seems likely that we must expect higher temperatures in the UK in the future and the UK is probably not as well geared up to deal with higher temperatures compared to mainland Europe due to the historic differences in climate. If such a law was brought in, it would no doubt create an additional cost for employers, for example in relation to making changes to the premises by the introduction of air-conditioning units and could lead to further claims in the future for a failure to comply.

For further information on this or any other employment or litigation matter, please contact Guy Salter at guy.salter@smesolicitors.co.uk or call 01905 723561.

Added: 20 Jul 2022 11:24


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