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04 April 2023

Feeling the cold?

Read our guidance on what support you can expect from your employer when it's got too cold in the workplace.

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Too cold to work?

Working in cold temperatures is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous too. So here's what you need to know about working in the cold.

Employers have a duty of care, and a legal obligation to protect your health, ensuring working temperatures are reasonable, comfortable, and safe.

Minimum temperatures

There’s no legal minimum temperature set in law, and expected temperatures may vary depending on the type of work being undertaken, but the guidance from the Workplace Regulations 1992 says that ‘during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable’. But what is reasonable?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance suggests the workplace should normally be at least 16°C (or 13°C for manual work).

The Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers recommends a good working temperature for an office is 20°C. And the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say that employers should make suitable assessments of the risks to the health and safety of employees and act where necessary or reasonably practicable.

It’s usually accepted that most people work best at a temperature between 16-24°C.

What support you can expect

There are practical steps your employer can take to keep you as comfortable as possible when working in the cold. Here are a few:

Travel disruptions

If you’re struggling to get to work and you’re not sure what to do, take a look at your employer’s guidelines.

If you’ve done all you can to make it into work and talked to your line manager about your situation, then you should still be paid. Your employer can ask you to work some time back in exceptional circumstances where there’s an urgent business need.

If you follow the guidelines and think your manager is being unreasonable, please get in touch with your local Accord officer.

Temperature gauge cards

If you want to keep an eye on the temperature in your workplace, you can order one of our branded temperature gauge cards. Please send your request to: [email protected] - include your name and full workplace address.

Get support from Accord

If your management don’t listen or fail to act, contact you local Accord officer for advice. 

You can also chat to us online or call and speak to our duty officer on 0118 934 1808.

Further info & guidance

There is further information and guidance available from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and some useful resources from the TUC:

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