It’s been cold recently, to say the least. As we snuggle up to heaters and wrap ourselves in blankets, many may be wondering if it’s too cold to work. Did you know that as a worker, you have rights in situations like these?
Is it too cold to work?
According to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the recommended minimum temperature in a workplace should be at least 16C. If the work involves physical exertion, it can be lower, at 13C. However, this is just a recommendation and not a legal requirement. It states that the temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable.
Can I stop working from home if it is too cold?
As there is no legal maximum or minimum temperature that people can work in, there’s not a yes or no answer to working from home during the colder months. However, by law, employers have a ‘duty of care’ to make sure working temperatures are reasonable for staff. This means that if extreme temperatures are expected, employers should make plans for keeping staff comfortable and safe, carry out health and safety risk assessments, and remove or reduce any risks found. Employers must also make special considerations for those with existing health conditions that could be worsened or impacted by cold temperatures. Employers can give staff practical advice and suggest alternatives for those who can’t afford to maintain a safe working temperature, such as coming into the office.
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How cold will it get?
In parts of the country, temperatures could plummet as low as -10C. Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Steve Willington, said: “It is staying cold with daytime temperatures remaining only a few degrees above freezing in many places over the coming days and overnight temperatures dropping to -10°C or lower in isolated spots. Although below average, these temperatures are not that unusual for this time of year.”