The Legal Consequences of ''The Beast from the East''

The Legal Consequences of ''The Beast from the East''

As you have undoubtedly noticed, the temperature has plummeted and the majority of the country is currently covered in snow with more forecast to be on the way. Travel is challenging, if not treacherous, with railway companies cancelling a high number of services and the roads covered in ice.

Freezing cold temperatures and snow are far from ideal for any commuter which begs the question: how cold does it have to be before your employees can legally refuse to come into work?

The temperature and your business

In spite of nostalgic memories of school closures due to snow days, the law does not provide for an absolute temperate which an employer must meet in order to be compliant with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

However, do not turn your heating off too soon because the regulations state that the workplace should provide "reasonable comfort".

What is reasonable depends on the workplace in question but as general guidance the Health & Safety Executive recommends at least 16 degrees Celsius, or at least 13 degrees where the work involves rigorous physical effort.

Maintaining an equitable temperature is important to keep your employees efficient, but failing to keep your workplace suitably warm could have far reaching legal consequences.

Why does the temperature matter?

Ensuring your business is suitably warm is important because falling below the required standard could render you liable under the regulations. This could result in your business coming under investigation by the Health & Safety Executive.

Additionally, your employees might argue that you have failed in your duty to provide an environment which is reasonably suitable for the performance of their employment duties. In the past, a breach of this duty has led to claims being made for constructive dismissal and general damages against an employer. A properly drafted employment contract offers the employer and employee protection by clarifying the position in writing.

In whatever way you have chosen to endure the so-called "Beast from the East" cold snap, do not allow the snow to cool your commitment in ensuring your workplace meets the relevant standard!

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors have an experienced Employment Law team that can advise on all areas of Employment law for businesses and Employment law for individuals.

To find out more about the full range of Commercial services Clapham & Collinge Solicitors offer, contact us today on 01603 693500 or email using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.