GLarge parts of Europe are suffering from an extraordinary heat wave these days. According to forecasts, the 40 degree mark can also be cracked in parts of southern and western Germany this Tuesday. Doctors warn of the consequences for the organism and advise against excessive stress.
In view of this development, the Verdi service company has pushed ahead with a particularly striking proposal: In extreme temperatures, employers should send their employees home earlier and give them “heat free” – what works for school children should also work in the world of work.
“The ultimate goal must be that there is no danger to people,” explains the responsible Verdi department head Norbert Reuter in the FAZ. Employers must take all measures to make working in extreme heat bearable. After all, it is also in their own interest.
FAZ survey among employers
In the employer camp, however, enthusiasm about the Verdi proposal of reduced working hours with full wage compensation is limited, as a survey by the FAZ shows. The Bosch technology group allows all employees who do not work in air-conditioned rooms to take additional breaks on hot days.
The telecommunications group Vodafone is relaxed: The campus in Düsseldorf is state-of-the-art and can also cope with this heat wave. Otherwise, the mobile operators are like many other employers and are taking advantage of the fact that many employees have increasingly been working from home since the Corona outbreak. It is said that those who do this can switch to off-peak times so that they don’t have to brood in front of the computer during the hottest hours of the day.
Verdi’s Reuter also welcomes this step, although in the home office it is almost impossible to check whether the legal protection requirements can also be met: Who is sitting in the overheated attic apartment on the laptop, who has a cool basement room available?
Those who work at home can usually wear more airy clothing and don’t have to squeeze themselves into overheated means of transport, emphasizes Reuter, accepting the weaknesses in verifiability.
Clear rules on employment relationships in Germany
Because in Germany there are actually very precise regulations as to what temperatures are allowed in the workplace and when it gets too hot. Chapter 3.5 of the Technical Rules for Workplaces, or ASR for short, defines what a room temperature actually is and in which range this may vary for employees.
If the air temperature in the room is 30 degrees or more, the employer must take effective countermeasures, including installing blinds and ventilation systems, relaxing clothing rules or introducing “cooling down phases”.
Fans can also help. In principle, the location is no longer suitable as a work space above 35 degrees. Exceptions confirm the rule here as well. Therefore, the construction union urgently calls for protective measures to be taken on construction sites.
It is more difficult in production
While the conditions for office workers can still be regulated relatively well, it is often much more difficult in manufacturing units, as Manfred Scherbaum knows. As the responsible board member of IG Metall for the area of work design and health protection, he knows about the difficulties of everyday life in the factory halls of the country.