UK weather: How hot does it have to be to be sent home from work? Temperatures to push 34C

UK weather forecasters with the Met Office have confirmed a plume of heat will torch the UK this week, pushing temperatures to record levels for the second time in a month. The Met Office warned of daily temperature hikes as the week progresses, with much of England and Wales under a haze. By Wednesday this week temperatures could push past 34C and experts warned temperatures could breach heatwave thresholds. As people prepare to bask in 2019’s second heatwave, trade unions are warning employers to take care of their workers.

How hot does it have to be to be sent home from work?

Countries frequently under the influence of high temperatures require countermeasures to prevent their residents from being negatively impacted by the heat.

In Spain, for examples, the siesta gives workers time off in the mid-afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat, before they return to work late into the evening.

But in the UK, there are no such measures in place for workers.


Modern offices come equipped with air conditioning, meaning employers can keep buildings at a reasonable temperature during work hours.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 compels companies to keep a reasonable temperature in office buildings.

Minimum office temperatures must be 16C for stationary workplaces or 13C where jobs involve labour.

There are no agreed upper limits, but the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is working to have one established.


The TUC is calling for an upper limit which would force employers to keep temperatures below 24C.

Under their proposal, staff would be sent home and employers prosecuted if temperatures in sitting offices hit 30C.

Where workers are regularly participating in hard labour, temperature limits would be 27C maximum.

The TUC has also called for formal offices to allow employees to dress more casually.


TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said employees should not have to suffer to “keep up appearances”.

She said: “The most simple way for staff to keep cool inside when it’s scorching outside is being able to work in more casual clothing.

“While shorts and vest tops may not be appropriate for all, nobody should be made to wilt in the heat for the sake of keeping up appearances.

“And bosses who provide a cool and comfortable work environment are going to get more out of their staff.”

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