Malfunctioning climate control

What to do when air conditioning or heating breaks down
By Colin Gibson
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/07/2011

Question: If the heating or air conditioning in our office breaks down, can we require employees to continue working for the whole day? At what point should the office be closed?

Answer: Employers in Canada may have both general and specific occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations in relation to thermal conditions in the workplace, depending on the jurisdiction in which they operate.

Workers’ compensation and OHS regimes across Canada impose on employers broad obligations to protect the health and safety of their employees. In a number of Canadian jurisdictions, employers are required to maintain certain thermal conditions in their workplaces, depending on the employer’s industry and the type of work environment in which employees perform their duties. For indoor workplaces, some regimes prescribe specific temperatures, while others require employers to maintain the temperature at levels that accord with accepted standards.