Are you freezing at work? This is how cold it has to be before you can legally go home

The temperature at a workplace that is indoors should be 'reasonable'.
The temperature at a workplace that is indoors should be 'reasonable'.

Northern Ireland is set to freeze this week as temperatures plummet across the country but how cold does it have to be before you can leave work?

But, do employers have to keep their workplace at a certain temperature and can staff go home if it is too chilly?

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the temperature inside the workplace should provide ‘reasonable comfort’ without the need for special clothing.

It continues that ‘all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable’.

But, it all depends on what the temperature reading is inside your workplace. Government guidance indicates that the temperature should not fall below 16C, no matter how cold it is outside, or 13C is employees are doing physical work.

Employers must stick to the health and safety law at work which includes keeping the temperature at a comfortable level and providing fresh and clean air.

But, there is no cap on the maximum temperature that staff can work in. Employers should do what they can, including providing additional heating and allowing their employees regular breaks and the chance to have a hot drink, should it get too cold.

The provisions in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 were extended to Northern Ireland by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993, made under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.