Current labor legislation will make it difficult to apply the new regulations on minimum and maximum temperatures across the board, especially in activities where workers make physical effort, such as waiters, stockers, cooks or porters. The royal decree law approved on Monday established that in hotels, public buildings, shops, cultural spaces, stations and airports the minimum temperature in summer must be 27ºC, but labor legislation reduces that temperature to 25ºC in the event that the work is not “sedentary”.
Carmen Mancheño, secretary of occupational health at CC.OO., explains that the new norm establishes that the temperature will be established based on the job and that, therefore, if it is considered that it requires a "light" effort, it must be at 25ºC. Sources from the Labor Inspection of Catalonia explained yesterday that, as a general rule, the job of a waiter is considered "light" since it is not "sedentary". This would imply that in bars and restaurants the temperature of 25ºC should prevail to protect the worker against the 27ºC that the Ministry of Industry wants to impose as a form of energy saving.
The key to everything is that a public establishment, in addition to providing a service, is also a workplace and, therefore, an “occupational risk assessment of each job must be carried out”, recalls Cristina Torre, of CC.OO. Catalonia. Article 29 of Monday's royal decree clarifies that "temperature thresholds (...) must be adjusted" to comply with "minimum safety and health provisions in workplaces." Only a temperature of 27ºC is allowed for sedentary work.
José Luis Yzuel, president of Hospitality in Spain, explains that “no one can oppose saving energy, it is good for our accounts. Many people in the sector are going to correct the thermostat in their premises, but they will do so based on common sense and thinking about guaranteeing occupational health standards, where the temperature for our activities is a maximum of 25ºC, and the comfort of customers ”.
In the case of retail trade, for example, demanding physical work is carried out in warehouses, so the 27ºC standard would only be applicable a priori in the space intended for sale.
The commotion around temperature control measures is taking into account that since 2007 it has already been established that it cannot be refrigerated in summer below 26ºC. Therefore, what was approved on Monday only modifies what was currently in force by one degree.
Josep Ginesta, general secretary of Pimec, says that it is necessary to reach agreements between employers and workers to establish temperatures without forgetting the protection of workers also in terms of relative humidity levels.
From Hospitality of Spain, Yzuel is critical of the way things have been done: “The drafting of the decree is a botched job. It is improvised with generalities. We hope that soon they will clarify all the exceptions that the sector needs. A place with 27ºC in an area of southern Spain is not the same as in the north. Not even in places destined for different activities”, he assures.
In his opinion, what the Executive should have proposed to save energy is a serious renewal plan for the sector: “Aid to change air conditioning and air conditioning machines now obsolete for more efficient ones. There is European money for it, it would only have to be approved and put into operation now”.
In the autonomous governments there are doubts about the application because, among other issues, there is no sanctioning regime. Yzuel adds that “it should be remembered that the inspection of this type of issues falls on the autonomous communities. Some have already clearly stated their position and it remains to be seen how the rest will act”. This is the case of the Community of Madrid. Yesterday, in a statement alluding to the energy efficiency measures, the president of the PimeComerç sector, Àlex Goñi, said that "they should have been done in consensus and with dialogue with the different affected sectors", since they can produce some dysfunctions that they have to do with the particularities of each business involved.