WORKERS should be sent home if temperatures soar to 30 degrees, trade unions and the LibDems have demanded.

As Scotland and the UK see record heat levels this week, unions and politicians have called for the introduction of a maximum workplace temperature.

For staff in labour intensive jobs the limit should be set at 27 degrees, with employers required to introduce control measures such as installing ventilation and moving workers away from windows.

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Both Unite and TUC unions have called on the UK Government to introduce the limit, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that responsibility lies with employers as “every workplace is different”.

Employment law is devolved to the UK Government - meaning Holyrood cannot legislate in this area.

Scottish LibDem economy spokesperson Willie Rennie backed the union demands and submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament urging MSPs to raise the issue with their Westminster counterparts “with a view to placing this on a legal footing”.

Rennie said: “Unfortunately, high temperatures are only going to become more common so the faster we think about adaptation the better.


“High temperatures are clearly a concern for workers and workplace representatives alike. They lead to more accidents and falling productivity so reducing them can be a win-win.

“Introducing a maximum workplace temperature and a duty for bosses to take action to keep their workers cool would be a sensible and humane step.

“From increasing ventilation to moving staff away from sources of heat, there are simple steps which can be taken to make workspaces a more pleasant place.

“I would like to see Scottish ministers take this issue up with their UK counterparts to see what can be done to give this legal force.”

Currently UK Government guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work but there is no equivalent guidance for a maximum temperature limit.

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Instead, employers just have to commit to "keeping the temperature at a comfortable level". A report from the TUC suggests that short of someone actually being injured or killed it's unlikely to actually be enforced, despite excessive temperatures being associated with a loss of concentration, increased accidents, falling productivity and risks to health.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary,  said: “This week we will see temperatures soar. Without adequate protection outdoor workers could be in danger.

“Bosses must ensure their staff are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing for those working outdoors - or relaxed dress codes for those working in shops and offices.

“Anyone worried about their working conditions should join a union, it’s the best way to stay safe at work and make sure your voice is heard.”

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On Monday, Unite urged the UK Government to “get a move on” and update employment law in line with the changing climate across the UK.

An HSE spokesperson said: "There is no maximum workplace temperature because every workplace is different.

"Responsibility to make workplaces safe and healthy lies with employers. Workplace temperature is a hazard that comes with legal obligations for employers like other hazards."

The National has contacted the Scottish Government for comment.