When is it too hot to work?

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By Oliviah Rix-Taylor

on Wednesday 25 July 2018

men lying down

The glorious weather is set to last across Britain this week and well into August according to the Met office and other weather reports. With 2018 set to be a record breaking summer, what does this mean for the workplace?

Minimum and Maximum working temperatures 

British snow – TV comedy gold for Canadians. With news channels showing decimated transport systems and general carnage in response to, let’s be honest, very little snow, colder countries can’t help but to have a little giggle. But children and adults alike all capitalise on the snow days to miss work and school, often relying on the minimum working temperature (16 degrees Celcius) regulation or cancelled trains as the excuses.

But what about the other extreme? The recent heatwave hitting the UK has had workplace temperatures soaring, and the dangers of working in extreme heat are just as bad as those working in extreme cold.

Accident Line Direct is here to tell you your rights in the workplace whilst the sun is still determined to shine. (Hey, we’re not complaining, I promise)


Unfortunately there is no law in the UK that states a maximum working temperature for the workplace, although employers do have a duty of care to their employees, so shade, good ventilation and water should be provided. There is no maximum working temperature because if you’re a glass blower you have to stand by a 650 degree Celsius furnace… office doesn’t feel so hot now does it?


Your employer is responsible for keeping the temperature of the workplace at a comfortable level. If you feel your place of work is just too hot to handle then your employer could be facing a workplace negligence claim.


Heat stroke can be lethal. Heat sickness, caused by over exposure to high temperatures can mess with your bodies thermal regulation, causing you to become dehydrated, dizzy and confused. If continually exposed to high temperatures then you could face organ failure and even death. However, you would have to be exposed to temperatures at the extreme end of the scale, and as hot as the UK feels right now, it’s definitely not at those levels (yet).


The Trade Union Congress (TUC) say that employers should be allowing staff to wear less formal office wear such as light weight clothes with no jackets, and ensuring that outdoor workers have sunscreen and water. They also expect employers to distribute fans and allow flexi time to avoid the sweltering rush hour times. How has your employer fared in the eyes of TUC?


The hottest ever recorded temperature in Britain was in Kent, where temperatures reached a scorching 38.5 degrees Celsius. In fairness this does seem quite hot for Britain but we would like to add that the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was in Libya at 58 degrees Celsius.

If the heat really is too much for you it might be worth asking your employer for flexitime and some cooling units. Otherwise, drink plenty of water and don’t stand too close to glass furnaces.