Can our company try to save money by leaving the heating switched off and telling us to ‘wrap up’?
No. Uncomfortable temperatures mean poorer productivity and, depending how cold it is, lead to a lack of concentration. This can lead to accidents – bad for staff and bad for the company.
This is of course all secondary to the fact that there is a legal minimum temperature of 16°C (though we'd recommend 20°C for office work), below which your employer needs to take action or let you go somewhere warmer. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has more information on workplace temperature.
Speak to your union rep if you have one, or otherwise, think about raising the issue collectively with management. If you group together, you are more likely to be taken seriously.
If your complaint is ignored, consider a complaint to the regulator. This is usually either the HSE or your local authority, depending on the kind of business you work in. The HSE website has guidance on the correct organisation to complain to.
In 2010, Carlisle Council prosecuted fashion chain Internacionale when an inspector found staff working in January with the doors open and no heating. The company admitted breaching the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was fined £2,000 plus costs.