Do employees have the right to go home if the workplace reaches a certain temperature?

In a nutshell, the answer is – No, because under employment and Health and Safety law, there is no specified maximum temperature limit for workplaces.

HOWEVER employers DO have an obligation to maintain safety in the workplace and take reasonable steps to keep their employees safe. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to the weather (hot or cold) there is no one size fits all solution, as people react differently to the temperature. Also bear in mind that some people may be at greater risk of reacting to the heat, particularly if they have serious or long term illnesses. 

So what can you do:

1. to help keep the workplace cool ?

2. if someone begins to show the signs of heat exhaustion (heatstroke can be very serious if not treated quickly)?

Read on to find out…………

1. What can you can do to help keep the team cool eg:

  • If there is no air conditioning provide fans and keep the workspace well ventilated when it is cooler outside
  • Close blinds / curtains in rooms that face the sun
  • Remind the team to drink plenty of fluids even if they are not feeling thirsty – provide water or other cold drinks, set an hourly phone reminder to tell everyone to have a drink
  • Allow additional breaks
  • Be flexible with the dress code eg wear light coloured, loose
  • Put your hands
  • Provide those who work outside with a hat and sunscreen
  • And most importantly, call in the ice cream van!

2. Make sure the team look out for each other and know the key signs of heat exhaustion, for example:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

If someone has heat exhaustion, follow these 4 steps:

  1. Move them to a cool place.
  2. Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
  3. Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
  4. Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too.

Stay with them until they’re better. They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.

Call 999 if:

You or someone else have any signs of heatstroke:

  • feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • a high temperature of 40C or above
  • fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • feeling confused
  • a fit (seizure)
  • loss of consciousness
  • not responsive

Heatstroke can be very serious if not treated quickly.

Put the person in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help.