As winter approaches, temperatures are beginning to dip and the first flurries of snow are starting to hit.
But how cold does it legally need to be before you’re allowed to go home from work?
Here’s everything you need to know about cold weather at work and your legal rights explained.
Is there a legal limit on how cold it can be before you can go home?
Unfortunately, there is not a strict legal minimum or maximum temperature for how cold or hot the temperature can be before you’re able to go home from work.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “the Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16C.
“If the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13C.
“These temperatures are not absolute legal requirements; the employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances.”
‘The temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable’
Regarding the temperature of indoor workplaces, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.”
However, “the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse,” explains the HSE.
Legal obligations of the employer
Although minimum working temperatures are not set it stone and it is the employer’s duty to decide on reasonable temperatures, your employer is still legally obliged to address potential hazards.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 “require employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees, and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.
“The temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should address to meet their legal obligations.”
Hannah Parsons of DAS Law explains, “If a large number of employees bring concerns about temperature to their employer’s attention, they will have to consider whether the current approach to keeping the workplace warm is adequate as part of their ‘duty of care’”.