In most workplaces, you’ll find that there is a kitchen, of some capacity, provided to employees including items such as a microwave, plates, cutlery and a fridge – at the very least.
Whilst it is nice to have access to these provisions when at least a quarter of our day is spent at work, is it a legal requirement?
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that staff are entitled to rest and eating facilities but they don’t specifically mention a kitchen; more so, just an area away from employee work-spaces that is clean and allows them to eat without risk of contaminating their food.
In that case, no – employees are not legally entitled to a kitchen. The only kitchen appliance that could be deemed a legal requirement is a microwave. Workers must be able to access hot food whilst at work, and if there is no place to obtain this near to or on the premises, then a microwave should be provided.
Do My Staff Need a Fridge in the Office?
There is no legal duty for employers to provide their staff with a fridge except in the case of a new mother who may need it to store breast milk. If an employee requests a fridge for this reason, then under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you are required to do so.
Most employers do make the decision to purchase a fridge for the workplace to keep their employees happy and enable them to store food and milk for hot drinks.
It doesn’t have to be a massive expense or take up a lot of space especially if you have very few employees, in that case you may only need a mini fridge.
If you do provide a fridge for your staff, then you must make sure that it is cleaned and emptied on a regular basis to avoid food contamination.
Should I Provide My Staff with a Kitchen?
Though it may not be required by law, you probably should consider having a kitchen – even a very basic one – in the workplace for good practice.
It has been shown that having a kitchen at work creates a more comfortable atmosphere and alleviates any stress of having to go out and buy lunch or coffees. The convenience of having access to the essentials that a kitchen provides can make for a happier, and healthier, workforce.
A kitchen doesn’t have to be a mammoth addition, it could simply include a fridge, microwave, a few cupboards for plates, mugs and cutlery, a kettle and a seating area.
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