What are your rights if it’s too hot to work from home? – Metro.co.uk - Freelance Rack

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

What are your rights if it’s too hot to work from home? – Metro.co.uk

a home office desk
Feeling the burn? (Picture: Getty Images)

With many of us still working from our sweltering homes, it’s good to know exactly what your rights are – especially if you’re suffering in this hot weather.

The heatwave is still impacting plenty of areas in the country with the hot weather set to continue for some parts of the nation until at least the middle of the week.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know if you feel it’s too hot to work in your house…

Can you refuse to work if it’s too hot?

While you might have a very nice boss who lets you knock off early when the weather is unbearable, there’s no law stating a temperature that’s too hot or too cold to work at.

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According to the Health and Safety Executive, the temperature in workspaces should be at least 16°C or 13°C if work ‘involves rigorous physical effort’, but there is ‘no guidance for a maximum temperature limit’ as the Government’s website puts it.

However, the website also says: ‘Employers must stick to health and safety at work law’ which includes ‘keeping the temperature at a comfortable level’.

So if you’re really feeling the heat, you can always try having a chat with your boss and seeing if something can be worked out.

Mike Hibbs, employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau told Mirror Money on the subject: ‘The fact that many employees are still working from home does not mean that employers can suddenly forget their health and safety responsibilities.

A man relaxes in a park in central London during hot weather
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (Picture: AFP)

‘All the usual rules apply, including the need to risk assess homes as suitable working environments.’

He added: Ultimately, employee safety should always be an employer’s top priority and they cannot force staff to work if temperature and noise levels prohibit them from doing so.

‘Certain disabilities, such as COPD and arthritis, also make working in high temperatures particularly difficult, so considering any reasonable adjustments that need to be made to help them do their jobs safely is vital.

There are also things that you can do to cool your house down, including keeping sun-facing curtains closed, working on the lowest floor possible, and wearing light loose-fitting cotton instead of dark and/or synthetic materials.

You’ll want to watch out for symptoms of heat exhaustion which, according to NHS guidelines, can be recognised by the following symptoms:

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

If you think you could have heat exhaustion then you should try to cool down immediately. Let your boss know your suspicions and if you’ve got a friend or loved one nearby then you should ask them to help and keep an eye on you.

Moving into the shade, drinking plenty of water and sponging yourself with cold water while sitting in front of a fan can help get your body temperature lower.

Call 999 if you don’t feel better after 30 minutes.

MORE: Heatwave brings violent thunderstorms and flash flooding across UK

MORE: Ice lolly recipes for cats and dogs to keep your pets cool in hot weather

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