With many workplaces sweltering as the temperature nudges into the high 30s, can it ever be so hot at work that you are allowed to go home?

The law does not set any maximum temperature in the workplace, but says temperatures in indoor workplaces must be “reasonable”.

But an employer which believes happy staff are productive might want to go further than the law requires.

Claire Merrit, partner at Southampton law firm Paris Smith, said: “Employers have an obligation to keep employees safe in the workplace, however health and safety rules set no maximum temperature for the workplace. It is therefore for an employer to take steps to understand what is reasonable and reduce risk to staff.

“Unfortunately the problem is that different people react differently to heat. We are all used to the frequent workplace disputes around the temperature. There is always someone who is too hot and someone too cold.”

Steps that can be taken to minimise the impact of heat can be to relax dress codes, providing fans and, of course, ensuring air conditioning is well maintained.

Tom Doherty, managing director of the HR Dept, which provides outsourced HR support in eastern Dorset and the New Forest, said: “Legally, there is no maximum working temperature – however, I think everyone should recognise that common sense should prevail when dealing with working in hot weather from all parties.

“All of this advice comes with the caveat that it needs to fit with the business and its operations too. Whether an employee is working inside or outside, relaxing the dress code, where appropriate, can help.

“Be flexible about working hours – start earlier and finish earlier. Consider not having people out in the sun during the hottest part of the day. Increase the opportunity for people working to have additional one-off breaks for refreshments. Ice lollies and cooling drinks always go down well.

Some experts point out that treating employees well can encourage loyalty.

Bournemouth-based life coach Lesley Gorman said: “Such high temperatures are rare here so I think employers should let their staff work hours that are reduced as much as possible.

“Happy staff are the most productive so give them an extra day off to enjoy the beach.”