TEMPERATURES across the UK have taken a tumble today with many of us waking up to sub-zero conditions.
We explain what your rights are when it comes to taking a day off work because of the cold weather, and lay out the regulations your employer must follow when temperatures drop.
Is it too cold to go into work and is it too cold to work?
The Workplace Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states employers should “assess risks to health and safety and act where necessary (i.e. if the workplace temperature drops below the minimum guideline or if it is felt the temperature is too high).”
If it is safe and reasonable to travel you should head into work.
If it is not safe then you should check with your employer and your company handbook.
Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they’re unable to get to work because of bad weather, according to government rights.
In reality, even when the weather outside is particularly frightful the temperature gauge in your workplace shouldn’t fall below 16C.
If the temperature was to drop below the 16C mark, the associated Approved Code of Practice says that your employer should take the relevant steps to help bring the temperature in the office or workplace back up to that level.
According to guidelines, this acceptable temperature can actually dip down to 13C if your work is strenuous.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state: “During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.”
How cold does it have to get in order to be sent home?
According to the guidelines, employees should be given regular breaks and plenty of opportunities to drink a hot drink.
In addition, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace has additional heating if the temperatures do get too cold.
It’s also up to the boss to do everything they possibly can to restrict their workers’ exposure and reduce draughts.
Advice given to employers also includes considering the possibility of flexible working hours or rotas to help reduce the effects of a cold snap, or you could of course always just put another jumper on and get on with it.
Kate Palmer, head of advisory at employment law consultancy Peninsula, told The Sun Online an employer has no obligation to pay an employee if they fail to turn up for work because:
She added: “Whilst there is no obligation, employers may wish to be accommodating in this circumstance and offer to let the employee make up the time on another day so they still get paid, or suggest that holiday is taken on that day.”
What’s the minimum temperature for schools to close?
The minimum temperatures that must be maintained in a school classroom has been set by the Education School Premises Regulations 1999.
The regulations state that the heating systems in schools must be capable of heating the classrooms up to a minimum of 18C and that the temperature must be maintained while the room is in use.
In areas like the sick rooms where there is a lower level of activity, the minimum temp is 21C and in areas of high activity like the gym, it should be 15C.
But Ms Palmer said employees do not have a statutory right to be paid in the event that they have an emergency day off with their children.
But if their school is shutdown, the employee would be entitled to unpaid time off for dependants to look after the children.
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