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Working from home in the heat: how do you deal with it?

The coming days it will be hot. And if the trend of recent years continues, so will the rest of the summer. Normally this is not such a problem: most workplaces have aids against heat, such as air conditioning and good sun protection. But now - and throughout the summer - many of us still work from home on a regular basis. How do you deal with the heat there, without all those aids? Can it be too hot to work, and what does that mean for you? Our employment law experts will explain it to you.

When is warm too hot?

Working when you are too hot is no fun. In fact, it can be harmful to your health. But when is it too hot? That is difficult to determine. It depends not only on the outside temperature, but also on factors such as humidity, heat radiation and air speed. Moreover, it is more likely to be too hot when you are doing physical exertion than when you are sitting at a desk. Therefore there is no general maximum temperature. There are, however, some health and safety rules of thumb:

  • Above 26 ˚C there is extra physical strain and you have to think about measures.
  • A maximum temperature of 28 ˚C applies for light physical office work.
  • A maximum temperature of 25 ˚C applies for physically strenuous work.

Is the temperature at your workplace above? Then there may be a risk of health damage. Before corona broke out, an expert had to come and assess whether the temperature is too high.

What can you do yourself?

An employer can take measures against heat at the office. But that is a bit more difficult at home. Therefore try to make your own workplace more heat resistant.

  • Keep the sun out as much as possible. Keep the curtains and windows closed, especially when the sun is out. Ventilate your workplace well when the outside temperature is lower, such as in the morning and in the evening.
  • Drink enough water. Preferably at room temperature, too cold water will not help against the heat. Also, drink as little hot drinks as possible.
  • Do not eat too heavily. Your body has to work harder to digest the food, which makes it warmer.
  • Wet your wrists regularly. This immediately cools your entire body. Or take a refreshing shower in between. But it also applies here: not too hot or too cold, it will only make you warmer.
  • Turn off as many devices as possible. These give off heat when they are on.
  • Use a fan and, if necessary, place a container or bucket with bottles of ice in front of it; this way you can easily make a do-it-yourself air conditioner.
  • Sit in the most northerly room of your house, it is often cooler there.

Can you expect something from your employer?

Officially, your employer must ensure a healthy and safe working environment, even when you work from home. Due to the current situation, he cannot do much more than reimburse the costs for a fan - or at most an air conditioner. Ask if there is a heat protocol and try to make agreements about your working time or working time, so that you don't have to sit in your attic room at the hottest time of the day. Are you really not keeping it out at home? Then discuss whether you can go to work: the workplaces are often a bit cooler there. If your employer and you cannot reach an agreement, please contact us. We advise what you can do best to stay responsible at work.

More information

Questions about working when it is warm, a healthy home workplace or this article? Feel free to contact us, we are happy to help you. Our Service Center is available every working day from 8.00 a.m. to 18.00 p.m., via sc@unie.nl and 0345 851 963.

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