UK heatwave: What are your rights on public transport and in the workplace?

·Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Man suffers from heat while working in the office and tries to cool off by the fan
Man suffers from heat while working in the office and tries to cool off by the fan

We are in full-blown heatwave season, with temperatures set to reach highs of 39C tomorrow in London. To date, the highest ever temperature in UK history was 38.5C recorded at Faversham in Kent in 2003.

Public Health England has issued an “amber warning” for health in this current climate – one level below the red warning, which constitutes a national emergency.

And yet, the world continues on as normal – with the daily work grind and your commute to and from proving trickier as you battle the rising temperatures.

READ MORE: Why do we need to sleep with a blanket even when it's really hot?

Here’s what you need to know about your rights at work and on public transport during the heatwave:

Heatwave rights in the workplace

According to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, an employer has an obligation to maintain a reasonable temperature in the office.

However, the legislation does not state a maximum temperature.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has campaigned for a legally enforceable maximum temperature of 24C in offices, but this has not (yet) been taken up.

Guidelines from the government Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state employers should give their employees access to cool water throughout the day.

Employers also need to be mindful of the role clothing plays in affecting a worker’s temperature – and allow for “adjustments”, e.g. to a uniform.

READ MORE: What is appropriate summer workwear attire?

“Where possible, remove all restrictions that may prevent employees from making minor adjustments to their clothing or work rate,” read the recommendations.

They could also “provide personal heaters or fans”, “provide warm-up or cool-down areas” and “allow employees to adjust thermostats or open windows as appropriate”.

Heatwave rights on transport

There is no central set of guidelines for how public transport companies should manage in a heatwave.

Smiling little girl aged 9 travelling by bus with mother and brother. They girl is smiling, summer sun is shining through the bus window. Mother and brother in the background.
Public transport can get stiflingly hot in the summer months. [Photo: Getty]

If you live in London, you may do well to pick an air-conditioned tube line: the newer trains on Circle, Hammersmith & City, District and Metropolitan Lines all provide air-conditioning.

Some National Rail operators have air conditioned trains.

Some rail services may be cancelled or delayed as a result of the heatwave, include South Western Railway and Southern Rail services.

READ MORE: 9 heatwave mistakes we're all making

If your transport is delayed, you can claim compensation by filling out a form on the National Rail website (or search online for your specific transport body).

Tomorrow, Thursday 25 July, Southeastern Railway customers have been told to stay at home rather than travel as Britain heads towards its hottest ever day.

Coping with the heatwave

Ways to deal with the heatwave include staying hydrated and wearing appropriate clothing.

You might also consider measures to help you nod off at night, including sleeping separately to your partner and changing up your duvet.

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