Your rights if it’s too cold in the workplace

24th January 2019

Hannah Parsons, Principal Associate Solicitor at DAS Law, provides the details:

Your employer’s responsibilities

The temperature of the workplace falls under health and safety law, and while there is no legal minimum temperature for a workplace, employers are required to keep warmth levels ‘reasonable’. Generally, the guidance suggests that this should be around 16ºC, or 13ºC where the job involves manual labour.

Employers are required to keep temperature levels reasonable.

There is no legal requirement to meet these exact numbers, however, as employers are expected to consider the individual circumstances of the workplace and consider what would be a comfortable temperature.

Your employer should have carried out a risk assessment which tackled such issues as keeping the workplace at an appropriate temperature to ensure there is no risk to the health and safety of employees.

If a large number of employees bring concerns about temperature to their employer’s attention, they will have to consider whether the current approach to keeping the workplace warm is adequate as part of their ‘duty of care’, so if everyone seems to have a problem with how cold it is, you should complain to your employer about it, not just each other.

Working in a cold environment

Some jobs may require you to work in a cold environment such as a walk-in freezer or cold room. Where practical, food refrigeration should be kept separated from areas where employees are working, but this is not always possible – in these cases, your employer should ensure that the impact on workers is mitigated as much as possible.

Some examples of how they might do this include heating workstations or rest areas, providing appropriate thermal clothing for employees, rotating duties so that employees do not have to work for too long in colder temperatures, and allowing more frequent breaks.

Working outside

If you work outdoors, your employer obviously has little control over the temperature of your working area, but they are still required to take steps to reduce the impact of work that keeps you outdoors for a long time.

This might include measures such as supplying warm work clothes to employees, providing warm rest areas and hot drinks, and allowing breaks to be taken at appropriate intervals. They should also consider if winter is the best time to undertake certain types of work that may expose employees to cold temperatures.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

Braving the storms: what every employee and employer needs to know about winter commuting

If you run your own business, bad weather can cause chaos when staff can’t get in. What employment law regulations are in place when handling transport troubles in winter?

February 2020 Learn more
Understanding your rights at work

To help ensure that people are treated fairly by their employer, all workers have a rights under the law.

April 2018 Learn more

Read more from the DAS Law blog

Employment disputes Can employees refuse to return to work if they feel unsafe?

Can an employee refuse to return to work due to fears of contracting Covid-19? Where does the law stand if employees decide to ‘take a stand’?

September 2021
Employment disputes , Growing your business , Protecting your business , Setting up a business Farming tenancies: what you need to know

Mark Woodman, Solicitor at DAS Law, looks at what farmers need to know regarding a Farm Business Tenancy.

June 2021
Employment disputes , Protecting your business How to keep your staff and customers safe when re-opening your business

As the country continues taking steps toward a return to normal, Covid restrictions remain in place in order to allow the reopening process to be conducted as safely as possible.

June 2021
Employment disputes Covid-19: Is your business worried about eviction?

The Covid-19 crisis has seen an unprecedented number of businesses facing collapse. But what happens if your business has an opportunity to get back on its feet only to face eviction from the landlord?

May 2021
Employment disputes , Protecting your business The return to work: a guide for employers

Molly-Ellen Turecek looks at what employers need to consider when returning employees to work.

May 2021
Employment disputes Is there a time limit for providing an employee with a P45?

As an employer, you are required to tell HMRC when somebody leaves or retires, and deduct and pay the correct tax and National Insurance.

May 2021
Employment disputes , Protecting your business The Return to Work from Covid: How businesses can stay on the right side of the law

Although lockdown restrictions are easing for many businesses across the country, health & safety and social distancing measures still apply.

May 2021
Employment disputes What you need to know about the gig economy

Allison Lewis, Head of Employment at DAS Law, looks at what you need to know about the gig economy.

March 2021
Employment disputes Can employers insist employees have the Covid-19 vaccine?

A number of UK companies recently announced that they will insist that all their employees must have the Covid-19 vaccine if they wish to continue working for them.

February 2021
Employment disputes Redundancy: an employer’s guide

Simon Roberts and Molly-Ellen Turecek from DAS Law look at seven things an employer needs to know about redundancy.

January 2021
Employment disputes Dismissal and Redundancy: 7 things employees need to know

Molly-Ellen Turecek and Simon Roberts look at what an employee needs to know about redundancy.

January 2021
General advice , Employment disputes Beware the perils of sharing colleagues’ virtual Christmas party antics on social media

Just because the party is being held online, it should still be treated as an extension of the workplace with both employers and employees conducting themselves appropriately.

December 2020
Employment disputes International Stress Awareness Week: your workplace rights

To mark International Stress Awareness Week, Jade Harrison, legal adviser at DAS Law, takes a look at what the law says your employer needs to do about workplace stress

October 2020