Not everyone can afford to go on vacation in the middle of summer when the heat is at its highest. Some people are lucky enough to work in air-conditioned rooms so that they do not feel the high temperatures outside so much. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to work in such a friendly environment. But how hot can it get in the workplace?
Employee rights in Germany during hot weather
For the protection of employees in Germany there is the Arbeitsstättenverordnung (Workplace Ordinance). The ordinance contains regulations for the safety and health protection of employees at the workplace but does not contain information about permitted temperatures. The regulation is, however, made more specific in the Workplace Directive (Arbeitsstätten-Richtlinien). According to directive 6/1.3 the temperature in the workroom must not exceed 26 degrees Celsius. The directive does not apply to workplaces that are supposed to have high temperatures (e.g. steelworks).
The problem is that the directive is only a recommendation. According to a decision by the Higher Regional Court of Hamm, it is therefore not applicable in every situation (Higher Regional Court of Hamm, judgment of 18 October 1994, file reference 7 U 132/93). In this case, the German Industrial Standard (DIN – Deutsche Industrie-Norm) 1946 should also be referred to, which states that the temperature in the working room must not exceed 26 degrees Celsius at an air temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. The difference between the air temperature and the temperature in the working room must therefore not exceed 6 degrees Celsius in order to prevent “thermal shock”.
What rights do employees have in Germany if the permitted temperature is exceeded?
An elevated room temperature does not automatically mean that an employee can stop working or take longer breaks. In this case, the employer must ensure that the temperature does not rise too high. He can do this by installing air conditioning, blinds or putting up fans. Only in extreme cases, e.g. when the temperature at the workplace exceeds 35 degrees Celsius and the employer does not take any measures to lower it, is it justified to stop working and go home.
Does the employer have to provide refreshments in Germany during hot weather?
Regarding the provision of refreshments to employees, there is no legal regulation in Germany that requires the employer to provide them. There are exceptions for professions that have to work in high temperatures, for example road workers and workers in steel mills.