Heat-free in the home office? A lawyer explains what bosses have to do


Heat-free, home office and cool work: What bosses need to know. (Photo: Shutterstock-Fizkes)

Searing heat like in the last few weeks can make the job considerably more difficult. But do employees have the chance to get heat-free in the home office? What does the boss have to do?

Summer, sun, no heat. Almost all working people associate their school days with this sequence. When it comes to working hours, this privilege is usually not far off. At most, pre-ill and pregnant women can still hope for a heat-related release at high temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius. However, this does not mean that employees are generally not in need of protection. In business premises such as offices, employers have to work and air-condition rooms, for example. But how does it actually work in the home office? Can employees hope for air conditioning systems donated by the boss? And if not, is there at least no heat in it? Meike Brecklinghaus is an associate and member of the international labor law practice group at the law firm Bird & Bird. The Düsseldorf legal expert knows the answer.



No chance of heat-free in the home office

Working early in the morning or late at night helps in the heat of the home office. (Photo: Shutterstock-Fizkes)

In principle, employees would neither work from home a right to heat-free while still in the officesays the lawyer in an interview with t3n. Nevertheless, employers are basically also responsible for ensuring that the workplace complies with industrial safety requirements – in the home office, however, with one far-reaching exception: “The industrial safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” explains Meike Brecklinghaus. “Because the employer has no direct access to the employee’s workplace and can therefore not provide remedial action,” she adds. In most cases, employers do not know what their workplaces are like and to what extent the rooms are affected by the temperatures.

In this respect, employers only have instruction obligations. This means that the employees are to be instructed by means of suitable information on how they themselves can ensure that the occupational health and safety requirements are also complied with at home. In this respect, employers can be required to provide information on various options for temperature regulation at home. “As a result, in the home office it is ultimately up to the employee to keep his job in a state in which he can perform his work without the threat of health impairments,” summarizes Meike Brecklinghaus. If employees are unable to work due to the temperature, the employer must be informed of this.



Voluntary performance of the boss in heat waves

Employers then have the option, on a voluntary basis, of paying for a mobile air conditioning system or a fan, for example. In addition, employees can return to the company workplace after consultation with the employer if more pleasant temperatures are ensured there. However, the return has to be at the moment under the current corona protection regulations and be possible according to the employer’s concept. In consultation with employers, employees can also adjust their working hours so that they work early in the morning or in the evening and not at lunchtime. By the way: If employees do not work remotely in the home office, but rather a case of mobile work, personal responsibility applies even more.

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