Scorchio! When Are Workplaces Around The World Legally Considered Too Hot?

Photo: Elliot Salazar.
If you’re a human with sweat glands, you’ll almost certainly have realised it’s the hottest day of the year in Britain, with temperatures set to hit 35°C in some parts of the country.
Those of us cooped up in sweltering offices will be hoping our bosses let us go home early to recuperate in an ice-cold bath, but they’re under no obligation to take pity on us. There’s currently no maximum limit on how hot UK workplaces can be, only regulations saying temperatures shouldn’t fall below 16°C (or 13°C if the work is physically demanding). Official guidelines merely say the workplace temperature should be “reasonably comfortable”. However, without a universally-agreed maximum temperature, it’s difficult for employees to claim they’re suffering from the heat and should be allowed to go home early.
In 2013, a group of MPs pushed for a law allowing staff to be sent home if workplaces reached 30°C, The Telegraph reported. They warned that high temperatures can "impact seriously on [employees’] health and well-being", and can cause "discomfort, stress, irritability and headaches...extra strain on the heart and lungs, dizziness and fainting and heat cramps due to loss of water and salt", and even workplace accidents and deaths.
Considering that the UK only hits temperatures over 30°C a few times a year (if that!), a law like this wouldn’t be too damaging to productivity, and it would provide a much-needed morale boost when all we really feel like doing is sitting in the fridge.
So how do other countries, many of which are more used to warm weather, compare to the UK when it comes to workplace heat regulations? If you're stuck in a sweltering office today, take comfort in the fact that you're not the only one.
The US government recommends workplaces be between 68-76°F (20-24°C) and says “employers are responsible for protecting workers from extreme heat”. It provides guidance for employers to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths, but there’s no clear maximum permitted workplace temperature.
There’s no official maximum temperature at which work must stop in Canadian workplaces either. “There is no single value for the maximum temperature to which you can be exposed at work, nor is there a single value above which work should stop,” the government says. But it says heat that causes “heat exhaustion, fainting, heat stroke, and other conditions… should be addressed.”

There are clearer regulations in China. Since 2012, there have been regulations in place permitting reduced working hours during hot weather. If the temperature reaches 40°C (104ºF) or above, outdoor work must be suspended, and at temperatures between 37°C (99ºF) and 40°C (104ºF), employees must not work outside for more than six hours, or work outside during the hottest three hours in the day. However, many employees may not benefit from this, according to China Briefing.
Employers in Australia must ensure the safety of their workers in such conditions. Employers must monitor staff safety during extreme weather conditions and recognise the early symptoms of heat-related illnesses. However, there's no clear upper temperature limit set in law. United Arab Emirates
Workplaces in the UAE get unbearably hot, reaching highs of 50°C. In 2012, the government imposed a ban on outdoor work between 12:30pm and 3:00pm, the hottest hours of the day, during the summer. Employers must specify and display their employees' working hours, and ensure they are safe by providing rest areas.
EU countries
EU law doesn't appear to outline a maximum permitted workplace temperature, according to a paper from the UK House of Commons library, but some EU countries do have specific guidelines.
In Germany, a workplace is normally 26°C maximum, but if the outside temperature is higher it may be allowed to be higher, although an upper limit isn't clearly laid out. France doesn't have a maximum temperature limit either, but employers must ensure their staff are safe and provide fresh drinking water.
There are strict guidelines in Spain, however. The temperature should be between 17 and 27°C where sedentary work is taking place, and between 14 and 25°C for light physical work. But the specifics of the work taking place and workplace location may be cited as reasons for not enforcing this, the House of Commons says.

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