Heat wave: workers’ rights, corporate duties

labor law

by means of Stephanie Condis

In periods of heat waves or heat peaks, the world of work has to adapt. How do you ensure good conditions for employees and other assets? What are the options for employees and employers to limit the impact of high temperatures on their activities?

When the temperature rises rapidly, it is necessary to keep a cool head and detail, crescendo, the solutions for mitigating the effects of the heat wave at work

In heat it is of course possible tochange clothes† In principle, you can wear light clothes, come to the office in flip flops and shorts, whether you are male or female… but not in a bathing suit! † Decent clothing that does not violate good morals may be requiredspecifies Anne-Lise Castell, lawyer at Editions Tissot, specialist in employment law. But beyond this caveat, each employee is free to dress as they see fit, whether it’s telecommuting or in the office. However, there are limitations to this individual freedom, which the employer can set in two cases. Firstly because ofhealth or safety requirements making it necessary, for example, to keep helmets on the head and safety shoes on the feet. Then out of respect for the image of the companyand especially when wearing a uniform.

The employer also has a duty to provide employees with free fresh drinking water. Because it is recommended to drink at least the equivalent of a glass of water every 15-20 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.

By naturally avoiding alcoholic or caffeinated drinks. It is also necessary to remember to refresh yourself regularly by running cold water over your face and neck.

Maximum temperatures at work

Or the company is under no obligation to provide fans and air conditioning, she must ensure that the air in closed work spaces is changed often to prevent the temperature from rising too high. And for outdoor positions, especially in the construction industry, you need to provide a rest area adapted to climatic conditions and shelter from the sun.

The same conditions apply at the office as at home if you telecommuteemphasizes Anne-Lise Castell. If it is too hot at home, the employer strongly advises against telecommuting, even if he cannot impose a return to the office. Conversely, if it is too hot in the company, telecommuting can be accepted by the employer, even if it is not yet there and there is no agreement about it. In any case, it is a matter of establishing dialogue.

The lawyer adds that, even if the The Labor Act does not provide for a maximum temperature above which it is no longer possible to work, the National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) estimates that there are risks as of 28°C for physical activity and 30°C for sedentary activity. In addition, this organization committed to the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases believes that:working above 33°C is dangerous.

Arrangement of schedules and tasks

To avoid these problems, it is therefore advisable to adjust the schedules: start early in the morning, take long breaks, reduce the pace and workload with more rest time. † For example, it is possible, if possible, to lighten the hours on days with high temperatures in France and work latersays Anne-Lise Castell. This is the recovery of lost hours, provided for in the Labor Act in the event of a cessation of activity, in this case because there is an orange or red warning during the heat wave.

Right of warning and right of withdrawal

If the workers ever settle in serious and imminent dangerthey may assert a right of warning and withdrawal, under Articles L. 4131-1 et seq. of the Labor Code.

Withdrawing from such a situation does not entail any sanction or withholding of compensation.

And if management has not taken measures and precautions to prevent this scenario, that can be blamed. Her liability is a fortiori involved in an accident at work or severe heat stroke. In reality, the employer must be vigilant and ensure the safety of its employees at all timesAnne-Lise Castell recalls: “ the company must explain the signs of heat stroke to everyone, such as headaches, fatigue, dry and hot skin, etc. But also encourage employees to keep an eye on each other to detect and report possible symptoms.

Heat wave info service

The telephone platform, accessible free of charge from a landline, “Canicule info service” can be reached at 0800 06 66 66, Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It provides advice on how to protect yourself and those around you, especially the most vulnerable.

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