From the idea of ​​the "siesta" to the rules on degrees and water: how Europe deals with the heat-work relationship

From the idea of ​​the "siesta" to the rules on degrees and water: how Europe deals with the heat-work relationship

It's not about laws or directives - quite scarce so far in Europe on the subject of hot and work - but of a proposal launched by the German Association of Doctors of the Public Health Service (BVÖGD) to avoid illnesses for workers and employees, an idea that in Germany above 30°C, according to health minister Karl Lauterbach, could be assessed if negotiated between companies and workers.

Other German associations have proposed, in addition to the "nap", to introduce obligations for lighter clothing, fans and other systems to withstand the impact of high temperatures.

Unfortunately, as certified by a study that appeared on nature medicine, we know well that we die of heat: in 2022 Italy reached the sad record of 18 thousand victims linked to heat waves, including several workers. Even in this current wave, from metal workers to bakers, the heat has unfortunately already returned to kill.

The investigation

From smart working to farewell to work, what is changing for us and for our cities

by Jaime D'Alessandro

The reflection on the measures to adopt to protect oneself, in addition to the well-known ones and the recommendations for the elderly and children, is now therefore increasingly moving towards the categories of workers.

As INPS recently recalled, above 35°C you can ask for layoffs and there are some protective measures in a complex context made up of both rising temperatures and continuous blackout risks also for companies (Terna has announced that the July 18th arrived at annual electricity consumption recordespecially for air conditioners).

L'InailIn the decalogue at work in the case of red dot degrees, he recalled that for the ordinary layoffs, always above 35°, the perceived temperatures can also be evaluated, "also obtainable from the weather reports, when they are higher than the real temperature".


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by Giacomo Talignani

In Italyin conditions of extreme heat, several companies have decided to temporarily leave their employees at home, or as happened in the area of Forlì-Cesena450 companies together with the unions have renegotiated timetables and also the ability to stop shifts.

More generally, the principle holds that i employers it must be ensured that employees are able to perform their duties safely and without running risks related to temperatures and, as recalled by a 2015 sentence in the Court of Appeal, employees can interrupt their activities (without the risk of dismissals) in the event that the employer does not guarantee safe conditions in difficult temperatures.


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by Dario D'Elia, Matteo Marini, Cristina Nadotti

The interpretation of the France, in case of heat: workers refer to the "Code du Travail" which does not establish maximum temperatures at which one can or cannot work, but dictates that it is the employers who must ensure working protection. In fields such as construction, for example, employers must provide a minimum of three liters of water a day to their workers.

In all Europe the laws change according to the states but there are, in fact, few directives with specific references to the new hot temperatures linked to the impacts of the climate crisis, which is why the unions almost everywhere are asking for a "review" of the system when it's too hot to work.

I study

In the warming world we will be forced to review working hours and shifts

by Matteo Grittani

Clear regulations do not exist for example in Great Britainwhich today touches new heat peaks never seen before, and where only the cold limit is defined (16 internal degrees) and not the opposite one.

In Germany the limit for which employers must guarantee "safe activities" is instead set at around 26°C and, from 30°C onwards, the rule of guaranteeing water and breaks applies. In Spain, work in safety is instead between 17°C and 27°C and for works involving physical effort between 14°C and 25°C. Bearing in mind that in Spain too this summer several locations reached forty degrees several times, it is obvious that often the internal agreement between employers and employees prevails.

With the heat advancing, as well as the climate crisis, in one Europe where by now there is alert in over 20 countries for heat waves, many unions and workers' advocates therefore return to underline the need for precise rules to deal with the heat-work relationship.

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