TEMPEATURES across the UK are soaring, and many workers may be wondering what their rights are if it gets too hot at work.

The heatwave may be leaving you feeling a little hot and bothered, and with temperatures topping 30C, it's not a surprise.

Everyone has the right to know what is expected of them if it gets unbearably hot in the workplace.

But many may be disappointed to find out that there's little legal protection when it comes to working in high temperatures.

Jonathan White, legal and compliance director at National Accident Helpline, said: "Unfortunately there are no laws which specify that workers can stop working if the temperature gets too hot.

"But every employer has a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment and must protect the wellbeing of their employees under UK employment law."


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He said this falls under the employer's duty of care.

Jonathan said temperatures are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

It suggests temperatures should at be at least 16C, or if the work involves rigorous physical exertion, it can be 13C.

If temperatures go beyond this and employers can't maintain a safe working environment, you could be sent home.

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But it's ultimately up to the employer to decide if its too hot to work.

What is expected of my boss in the heatwave?

Jonathan said employers are expected to do whatever is "reasonably practicable" to safeguard their workers' wellbeing – including during a heatwave.

This means they must provide a safe environment where staff are not at risk of falling ill from the heat.

He added: "If you are uncomfortable in the heat, then you should speak to your employer as they are obliged to act reasonably and provide a safe working environment."

If you have an existing health condition that could be affected by high temperatures, your employer should take this into consideration.

In some cases, your employer may make compromises to help you feel more comfortable.

You could ask to work form home – especially if your employer can't maintain a reasonable temperature and there's no air conditioning in the building.

If you work outdoors, you're less likely to have this flexibility.

Instead, you should prepare yourself with lots of water and sun protection to minimise risk of sunburn, as well as dehydration.

You could also ask for your work dress code to be relaxed – but it shouldn't compromise decency or health safety.

If you have to wear a specific uniform for protective, such as a high visibility jacket, it is unlikely you'll be allowed to change.

How can you reduce the risk of heat stress?

It is important that employers are aware of the actions which can be taken to limit the risk of heat stress, Jonathan said.

There are practical steps you can take such as keeping water in the fridge and drinking frequently, half filling hot water bottles with cold water and placing in the freezer to cool down if needs be and blocking out sun with blinds or shades.

The HSE recommends that if you are uncomfortable, talk to your manager, supervisor, union representative or employee representative.

Jonathan added: "It is crucial that employers follow their duty of care to all staff, carry out risk assessments when necessary, and act accordingly to prevent staff from falling unwell or being injured."

While there are calls to introduce a new law to set a maximum temperature at work, but this has not been practical previously because some jobs entail high temperature working such as blast furnaces, steel and glass production.

The TUC has said previously it wants to make it illegal to keep people at work indoors if the temperature is above 30C.

People working from home may also be struggling. Here's our top tips for beating the heat.

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Meanwhile, The Sun has put together a guide to all the heatwave refunds you could be entitled to.

And we explain how a 65p household item could save on energy bills in the heatwave.

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