GMB Union, which represents over 50,000 workers, has demanded that a legal maximum temperature be imposed in all working environments and suggested that if bosses fail to provide cool enough conditions, workers should walk out.
They have also called for “workplace adjustments”, such as hats, suncream, protective clothing, flexible dress codes, extra breaks, flexible working and travel arrangements, air conditioning and water access.
Currently, temperatures in indoor workplaces are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which places a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace. This is often interpreted as being at least 16C.
However, there is no legal maximum temperature. As a result, unions are warning that “workers need protection in soaring temperatures” and that a legal maximum temperature of 25C should be imposed nationwide as the record-breaking heatwave is set to hit the UK.
The TUC and Unite unions have previously called for a maximum indoor working temperature of 30C to be introduced – with the maximum limit falling to 27C if employees are carrying out strenuous work. However, the GMB limit of 25C is the first time that unions have called for such a low limit.