Baby it’s cold outside…

Dec 12, 2022 | Blog, Legal Updates

Baby it’s cold outside…but at least you don’t have to worry about your staff working from home. Or do you?

Yes, it’s absolutely freezing isn’t it?

While you know you’ve got a duty of care towards your employees in the office or workplace (did you know that there’s a recommended minimum temperature in the workplace of 16C?), you might not know what your obligations are towards those staff who work from home, either some or all of the time.

So, what’s the story?

In brief, you have the same obligations towards your home-working staff as you do your workplace-based team. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to turn up at their respective homes brandishing a thermometer, but it’s definitely worth thinking about what you should be doing. Particularly as there’s every possibility that someone in your team could be struggling to heat their home right now.

Let’s be clear. You are expected to do whatever is reasonably practicable to safeguard your employees’ wellbeing and you must provide a safe environment where people are not at risk of falling ill from the cold.

Practical suggestions

Points you could consider:

  • Carrying out or updating your home working risk assessments to include questions around temperatures;
  • Reminding people about the need to maintain a safe temperature and giving advice such as working in the warmest room in the house and using portable heaters as necessary;
  • Asking people if they’d prefer to work in the office rather than at home during this cold spell;
  • Looking at options such as a contractual home-working allowance to provide financial assistance towards home-working costs like heating, broadband, etc. 

As mentioned, you’re clearly not expected to carry out working environment checks in person (I always advise caution around going to an employee’s home address and never without their permission), and you can’t force people to turn their heating on either. However, it is important that you think about your obligations and whether or not you’re meeting them as you should.

If you need any help do contact us…


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