CALLS are being made for the law to be changed to include an upper temperature limit for people to work in.
The Trades Union Congress, a body that represents unions across the country, is calling on employers to temporarily relax workplace dress codes to help staff work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible.
The group said if places are too hot to work in then staff productivity will be affected.
Although there is a legal limit below which workplace temperatures should not fall – 16C for non-strenuous roles and 13C for strenuous – there is no upper limit.
But the TUC wants to introduce a maximum temperature of 30C, or 27C for those doing strenuous work – with employers forced to bring in cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24C.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘When it’s hot outside, it’s no fun for those trapped inside in overheated workplaces.
‘Extreme heat can be as unpleasant to work in as extreme cold and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will be affecting their productivity.
‘Now is the time for employers to relax the dress code rules temporarily and allow their staff to dress down for summer.
‘Making sure that everyone has access to fans, portable air-conditioning units and cold drinking water should help reduce the heat in offices, factories, shops, hospitals, schools and other workplaces across the country.’
The TUC has given the following tips for staff and employers to follow to help cope in the heat:
- Allow staff to adopt less formal clothing;
- Distribute fans to staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets;
-Install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave;
- Allow flexible working so that staff can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute;
- Move desks or hospital beds away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film;
- Allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.