Union says Sheffield workers 'should be sent home' when temperatures reach 30C

Sheffield has been sweltering in the heat today with temperatures due to reach 35C later.

Thursday, 25th July 2019, 13:38 pm
Updated Friday, 26th July 2019, 11:18 am
Enjoying the sun looking over Sheffield City Centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

If the temperatures top 34.3C it will officially be the city’s hottest day on record.

The current forecast predicts the mercury will hit 36C (96.8F) later today, smashing the record set back in August 1990.

The all-time UK heat record of 38.5C – set in Kent in 2003 – also looks set to fall.

Enjoying the sun looking over Sheffield City Centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

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Despite the sizzling temperatures, there is no legally defined maximum temperature for the workplace.

However, the TUC is now calling on employers to allow flexible working and to keep workplaces cool so staff can work as comfortably – and safely – as possible.

They are wanting to see a change in the law to introduce a new maximum indoor temperature set at 30C or 27C for those doing strenous jobs.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “While many of us love to see the sun, it’s no fun working in a baking office or a stifling factory. Bosses should do all they can to keep the temperature down.

“The easiest way for staff to keep cool inside is being able to work in more casual clothing. While shorts and vest tops may not be appropriate for all, nobody should be made to suffer in the heat for the sake of keeping up appearances.

“It's in bosses’ interests to provide a cool and comfortable work environment. Workers who are unable to dress down in lighter clothing, or who work in offices without air-conditioning, fans or drinking water, are going to be tired, and lack inspiration and creativity.”

While there isn't a legally defined maximum temperature for the workplace, the Heath and Safety Executive has issued a number of guidelines.

They have said that, during working hours, the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

The temperature should be at 13C if employees are doing physical work but there is no maximum temperature given due to high temperatures of working in some places, for example a glass works or foundry.

While 'reasonable' is rather ambiguous, the law does say that an employer must act if a 'significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort'.