Workplace temperature: Too cold or too hot?

Workplace temperature: Too cold or too hot?

There is no doubt that the workplace temperature can sometimes be a hotly contested topic between colleagues. The temperature at work can potentially be a health and safety issue, especially if it affects an employee’s health.

An employee (Ms Burrows) who worked for Bunnings Warehouse succeeded in an unjustified disadvantage claim because of the Employer’s decision to relocate her workstation. Her workstation was relocated so that she would be working in the Inwards Goods Reception area, which was inside a warehouse.

The workstation was located next to a roller door. Because of the location of the workstation Ms Burrows was frequently exposed to wind and cold conditions, which affected her health.

Unjustified disadvantage is a category of personal grievance. A disadvantage claim arises if an employee’s terms or conditions of employment have been affected by the employer, causing the employee to be disadvantaged.

In Burrows v Bunnings, the Employment Relations Authority held that there was an implied condition of employment that Bunnings would take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure Ms Burrows worked in a healthy and safe working environment. Ms Burrows was awarded compensation by the Employment Relations Authority.

This case serves as a chilly reminder to employers that disadvantage claims can arise in a range of circumstances and are not strictly limited to situations where the terms of employment have been breached.

If you have any questions or queries in relation to this topic, please get in touch with the Watermark team directly. We are happy to advise you.

Simon Greening and Kylie Hudson

Director | Associate