How hot does it have to be before you can legally go home from work? Your rights explained

Are you too hot to work?
Are you too hot to work?

Wakefield is sizzling this week as the country's heatwave continues - but does it ever get too hot to be sent home from work?

The Met Office forecasts highs of 35°C today for Wakefield and Yorkshire and it's only going to be slightly cooler tomorrow.

So, with offices often not having windows that open or working air conditioning, it can get stiflingly hot while you work.

But can we be sent home if temperatures reach a certain point in the office? Or is that just an old-wives’ tale that employees trot out every summer in hope rather than expectation?

How high does the temperature need to go before it becomes too hot to work?

No set temperature

The official advice from the Government website states, “During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

“There’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, eg when it’s too cold or too hot to work.

“There’s no guidance for a maximum temperature limit.”

Must be a ‘reasonable temperature’

The belief, therefore, that there is a maximum temperature is unfortunately misguided.

Health and safety requires workplace temperatures to be ‘reasonable’, which applies all year round.

The upper limit of this definition will depend on what type of work is being done as well as the working environment.

For example, it will be lower for those doing manual labour on a motorway than those sat in comfortable air-conditioned offices.

If you are disabled, your employer may have a legal duty to make adjustments if the weather affects an existing medical condition.

This is most common with illnesses or disabilities which make someone feel the temperature more acutely than others.

Top tips on how to stay comfortable at work

If your workplace allows it, you could ask your boss to relax the dress code and allow for employees to come in wearing something other than suits and business clothes.

Ask your employer to consider providing portable fans on the desk or, if it’s too cold, consider moving employees away from cold air-conditioning units.

Stay hydrated, by drinking plenty of water. Avoid caffeine as it can raise your core body temperature.

Lobby your manager to go on an ice lolly run. Cold drinks or summer snacks would work, too, and be great for team morale.