How cold does it have to be before you can refuse to work?

Health and safety law requires employers to ensure that for indoor work the temperature is reasonable. There is no mandated temperature but the guidance recommends a minimum temperature for a workroom of 16 degrees Celsius or if the work requires rigorous physical effort at least 13 degrees Celsius. It will be for an employer to decide what is reasonable in the circumstances.

A cold day though does not necessarily mean a day off work and if employees have concerns they should first raise these with their employer. An employer may allow employees to work from home or another site and may put in place temporary measures to deal with unusual temperatures. Additionally employees have a duty towards their own health and safety as well so they have a responsibility to dress appropriately for the temperature as well.

What about outside working?

As regard working outside an employer has a duty to protect employees from the effect of adverse weather as far as is reasonably practical. Depending on the weather it may be too dangerous for an employee to venture into work but that will depend on the individual facts.

What is reasonable can be a bit vague but the HSE website has useful risk assessment templates for thermal comfort.

What do I need to do next?

If you have any questions or concerns about your employment, or if you’re looking to set up a policy for your employees, the best first step will be for you to seek legal advice. Please click here to arrange to speak to one of our specialist Employment Solicitors.

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