Labor Inspectorate: Employers should ensure heating cuts don't harm staff

Music and movement, work gymnastics sessions such as this pictured can help to warm up during breaks this autumn and winter.
Music and movement, work gymnastics sessions such as this pictured can help to warm up during breaks this autumn and winter. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Employers should ensure that staff do not suffer unduly if energy-saving measures include reducing temperatures in buildings this fall and winter, with longer rest breaks to allow moving around as well as providing hot drinks recommended.

In order to make savings in the wake of record energy prices, those offices, such as public and state sector authorities, will be a few degrees cooler this fall and winter than is normally the case, averaging around 19C, the Labor Inspectorate (Tööinspektsioon) says.

The inspectorate's director general, Meeli Miidla-Vanatalu, said: "There are no statutory temperature requirements, but there is a standard that says that, for example, for work that is done while sitting and does not require physical effort, which is the norm for office work, should see an appropriate room temperature of 20-25C."

"Any cooler than that, for instance at 19C, may result in people getting cold, which in turn leads to them feeling more tense, and so tiring out faster," Miidla-Vanatalu went on.

"In the course of stretching and moving about, you must definitely see if a warm drink is available," he added, noting that temperature is a personal thing, while in some cases 22C is already cooler than ideal.

Employees must understand that they have the right to point out to an employer when they are starting to feel cold, while both parties should strive to find solutions.

"Work gymnastics" (pictured) are also suggested as one way to warm-up.

The government has already established requirements for kindergartens and schools.

The above primarily refers to public sector authorities, though staff at private sector firms etc. should also take into account energy savings may lead to cooler workplaces already.

Domestic consumers of energy will already have support measures in place, automatically applied, to help with costs over the autumn and winter – heating season runs from October 1 to March 31, while conditions can remain chilly for some weeks after that end date – but these measures do not apply to commercial customers.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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