UK Heatwave: When is it too hot to work? Rules explained ahead of record temperatures

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The official rules for working in extreme heat as the UK prepares for its heatwave

The Met Office and health authorities have issued the first heat related health alert of the year for multiple regions across the UK for this coming weekend. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as well as the Met Office said the alert would apply for 72 hours from 9am today (June 9).

According to the UK Health Security Agency an amber alert indicates that weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service, and there could be some health impacts across the wider population, not just the most vulnerable. The alert is for areas such as London, the East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, the South East, and the South West.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA, said: “In the coming days we are likely to experience our first sustained period of hot weather of the year so far, so it’s important that everyone ensures they keep hydrated and cool while enjoying the sun.

“Forecasted temperatures this week will primarily impact those over the age of 65 or those with pre-existing health conditions such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

“If you have friends, family or neighbours who you know are more vulnerable to the effects of hot weather, it is important you check in on them and ensure they are aware of the forecasts and are following the necessary advice.”

As we enter the amber alert period many people will still have to travel and work in these conditions. Working in hot conditions can be dangerous and it’s important that workers stay cool and hydrated throughout their shifts.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So, what temperature must your work place reach for it to be deemed too hot to work? Here’s everything you need to know.

When is it too hot to work?

According to the UK government website there’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures for instances when it’s too cold or too hot to work. However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work. Employers must stick to health and safety at work law which includes keeping the temperature at a comfortable level, and providing clean and fresh air.


The website also advises that if employees are not happy with the working conditions they should “talk to their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable”.

What should you do if it’s too hot inside the office?

The Union of Shop, Disruptive and Allied Workers (USDAW) has called for the Government to make it a legal requirement for employers to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24 °C. Additionally, Trade Unions have campaigned for a legal maximum temperature for indoor work, of 27°C - 30 °C so that employers and workers are aware of when action should be taken.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If an employee is unable to work from home or unable to change their working conditions they may have to stop working in order to protect their health. An employee is allowed to stop working if they believe that their working environment is damaging their health. If they are then penalised for that, they are liable to make a claim via an employment tribunal.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.