August 11, 2014

What to do when the air conditioning stops at work?

This post was written by: Amarjit Atwal

British summers often leave much to be desired, however recent warm temperatures have encouraged us to venture out in our summer gear, ready to sunbathe and enjoy some ice cream. While spending time in the warm climes is something we all wish we could do more of in our spare time, it’s certainly one thing we do not need when we are stuck working indoors.

Many modern office buildings have air conditioning systems to keep employees cool; however some older buildings may not have this luxury.

thermo office

Employees have certain rights when it comes to temperatures in their workplace. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace should be ‘reasonable’ without actually specifying a temperature. However, the Health and Safety Executive recommend temperatures in the workplace should be between 13 and 30 degrees Celsius, depending on the level of physical activity involved in the work.

If the air conditioning at your work isn’t working or you’re feeling too warm, you may be able to ask your employers to undertake what is known as a “thermal risk assessment” to assess whether the temperature is acceptable or not.

The Health and Safety Executive has given guidance on how to assess ‘thermal comfort’. If more than 10% of employees complain about the heat in an office where there is air conditioning, their employer should make a thermal comfort risk assessment. If the office has no air conditioning but is naturally ventilated through the use of windows then more than 15% of employees would need to complain in order for a thermal comfort risk assessment to be made.

The rules are slightly different for factories and warehouses however, where the lack of air conditioning would have to lead to more than 20% of employees complaining before the employer makes a thermal comfort risk assessment.

If you need any advice on employment law, give us a call on 01753 486 777 and we can assist you with any queries you may have.


Amarjit Atwal, Paralegal