Heat imposes additional duties on employers


If a high temperature causes discomfort of an employee, they may break their work and they will not suffer consequences. What else does the act impose?

All employees should work in adequate conditions no matter of a kind of concluded agreements or jobs. The media has been reminding for several days how dangerous the heat is for our bodies: too intensive insolation leads to a sunstroke or heatstroke and it also disturbs the work of circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. Moreover, the heat decreases the effectiveness of work – both physical and mental. According to the research conducted by American Captivate Network, the productivity and ability to concentrate are decreased by ca. 20 per cent during hot days. 


Work conditions during the heat are defined by a Polish law. The legislator imposed on employers such duties as delivering water to employees who work outside when a column of mercury exceeds 25 degrees Celsius and to those who stay in the office – when the temperature exceeds 28 degrees Celsius. The source of water intended for drinking should be placed no further than 75 m from a work station. The temperature sometimes exceeds the abilities of a body and thus people who work in difficult conditions receive vitamin enriched and energetic drinks due to higher exhaustion during physical work. Construction workers who spend most of the time outside must have ca. 90 l per head in order to wash themselves. Each employer should remember about it in a summer period – reminds Maria Kacprzak-Rawa, press secretary of the District Inspector of Labor in Warsaw.   


Except for the water, all employers are obliged to provide their employees with an airflow. The requirements of OSH should provide safe and good work. It is worth remembering about skylights, verticals, ventilation and air-conditioning in order the temperature will be convenient for performing a job – says Maria Kacprzak-Rawa. The legislator did not impose a duty of shortening of a work day during the heat. Such activity is possible provided that it will not lead to reduction of a salary. Employers may also suggest breaks in work. 


Despite providing good work conditions, sometimes someone is not able to perform their responsibilities due to a bad psychophysical condition during the heat. The legislator allows to break the work in such situation without any financial consequences.


The mentioned responsibilities of employers resulting from a high temperature refer to all employees – those who concluded an employment contract and those who concluded a civil law agreement. The disobedience regarding these conditions results in penalties envisaged in such situation. Employers may pay a fine totaling from 1 thousand zlotys to even 30 thousand zlotys for disobedience of the requirements of the OSH. Moreover, employees should talk with their employers if they do not perform their responsibilities. If it does not work, they have a right to make a complaint to the District Inspector of Labor in Warsaw – says Kacprzak-Rawa. 


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