10.07.2023 Labour law

[Poland] Working in hot weather – obligations of employers, rights of employees

Working during hot weather may not only be difficult and strenuous, but sometimes also dangerous to health. How can an employer ensure the comfort of employees at such a time, and what responsibilities does the employer bear in this regard?

Working in hot weather under current legislation

The severe heat is increasingly bothering employees, not only those who work outside. In Poland, the employer’s obligations to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions, also in high and low temperatures, are regulated by:

Interestingly, the regulations do not specify the maximum air temperature at which an employee can work. However, a lower limit has been defined. The minimum temperature at which work can be performed is:

  • 14°C in working spaces, except when technology does not allow it,
  • 18 °C in rooms where light physical work is performed and in offices.

The situation is different in the case of employing adolescent workers. According to the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 24 August 2004 on the list of works prohibited to adolescent workers and the conditions of their employment in some of these works (Journal of Laws of 2004, No. 200, item 2047) , the adolescent employee may not work in premises in which temperature exceeds 30°C with relative air humidity above 65%.

Working in the heat – employer’s obligations

The current regulations do not specify the maximum temperature at which work can be performed, which does not mean, however, that in hot weather employers do not have obligations to ensure safe and healthy working conditions in high temperatures.

According to the regulations, employers during hot weather should, among others:

  • provide easily accessible rest rooms for those employees who work in rooms in which the temperature caused by technological processes constantly exceeds 30°C,
  • provide refreshments to employees:
  • working in a room at a temperature caused by atmospheric conditions exceeding 28ºC,
  • working in the open space at an ambient temperature below 10ºC or above 25ºC (refreshments must be enriched with mineral salts and vitamins),
  • working in conditions of a hot microclimate, characterized by a value of the thermal load index above 25ºC,
  • with physical effort jobs resulting in an effective energy expenditure of more than 1500 kcal for men and 1000 kcal for women during a work shift,
  • provide meals to employees working physically in closed rooms in which, for technological reasons, the temperature is constantly below 10°C or above 25°C and causes effective energy expenditure of the body over 1500 kcal for men and over 1000 kcal for women during a work shift.

An employer’s failure to comply with regulations on ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions is an offence punishable by a fine of between PLN 1000 and PLN 30 000.

Working in hot weather – possible other actions of employers

Under current legislation, an employer is obliged to organize work in such a way as to make it less onerous. During hot weather, employers have the opportunity to take measures that can directly improve the comfort and efficiency of work in high temperatures, e.g.:

  • when working outdoors, ensure appropriate clothing, including headgear and UV-protective, breathable clothing,
  • move, if possible, the performance of outdoor works and works performed in places with high sun exposure to cooler times of the day,
  • if possible, shorten working hours days when the weather is particularly hot,
  • introduce additional breaks at work,
  • provide air conditioning or fans.

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