Heatwave to hit Germany with temperatures well above 30C

Dig out your fans... because hot days are coming to Germany.

Heatwave to hit Germany with temperatures well above 30C
People cooling down at Stralsund at the Baltic Sea on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

After the changeable weather of July, the German Weather Service (DWD) says there's likely to be a longer heatwave in the coming days which could well become a historic weather event in parts of the country.

“According to our forecasts, the 30C mark will be exceeded in the Rhineland on Wednesday – and it will probably stay that way until August 13th,” DWD spokesman Andreas Friedrich told DPA.

In the Rhineland there could be nine hot days with temperatures above 30C in a row – without any cooling in between. It's even possible that the thermometer will rise to 35C.

According to the forecast, it will be similarly hot in the Rhine-Main region. For Frankfurt, the meteorologists expect six tropical weather days in a row from Saturday to the following Friday, with temperatures not dropping below 20C.

“This will be an extreme strain,” warned the DWD spokesman. He said that heat warnings were likely to occur in many places across Germany.

In Berlin for example, temperatures above 30C are forecast starting on Friday until the following Thursday.

READ ALSO: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Danger of forest fires

The unusually long heat wave is also characterized by drought, with massive consequences for nature. “The extreme drought in the middle of Germany is threatening to worsen, the danger of forest fires is increasing even further.” Apart from a few thunder storms, no rain is expected.

The hottest day of the year so far in Germany was last Friday July 31st. In Rheinfelden in southern Baden the mercury reached 38.5C.

READ ALSO: Health warnings as Europe swelters under heatwave

And on Saturday, temperatures in southern Germany climbed to well over 30C. The warmest area was Bad Mergentheim-Neunkirchen in the northeast of Baden-Wuerttemberg with 37.1C, according to DWD meteorologist Tobias Reinartz.

In general, temperatures in the south and in the middle of Germany were above 30C.

The temperatures brought the Baltic beaches in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania a record-breaking number of visitors on Saturday. Even off the coast at some of the state's lakes, the amount of visitors was so large that access had to be limited.

Last year Germany saw its hottest ever temperature since records began – 42.6C – was recorded in Lingen, Lower Saxony, on July 25th during a European-wide heatwave.


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Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

Germany has regulations on working during a heatwave - but does that also apply to people who work remotely? We take a look.

Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

The number of people working from home shot up during the Covid pandemic, and though employees no longer have the right to work remotely by law, many have chosen to stick with more flexible arrangements and set up a home office at least part of the week.

This is great news for people who enjoy a lie-in more than a long commute, but there are some downsides. One major issue is that it’s not always clear how Germany’s strict employee protection rules actually apply in a home setting. The rules for working during a heatwave are a good example of this.

How does Germany regulate working in extreme heat? 

By law in Germany, employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. This means that they should try and keep the temperature below 26C at all times and are legally obliged to take action if the temperature goes above 30C. 

That could include putting blinds on the windows to prevent the glare of the sun, installing air conditioning systems or purchasing fans. In some cases – such as outdoor manual labour – it could also involve starting and finishing earlier in the day. 

And in really high temperatures, employers may simply decide to call the whole thing off and give their employees a ‘hitzefrei’ day – basically a heat-induced day off – to go and cool down in a lake. However, business owners are generally given free rein to decide how hot is too hot in this instance (except in the case of vulnerable workers). 

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Do the heat rules apply to ‘home office?’

Unfortunately not. In most cases in Germany, the company isn’t directly involved in setting up the workspace for an employee that works from home, aside from possibly providing a laptop or phone for remote use. 

“The occupational health and safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” labour law expert Meike Brecklinghaus told German business publication T3N. “This is because the employer does not have direct access to the employee’s workplace and in this respect cannot take remedial action.”

That means that on hot days, it’s the employee’s own responsibility to make sure the environment is suitable for working in. 

woman works from home in Germany

A woman works in her living room at home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Naupold

One duty employers do have, however, is to instruct their workers about the best way to set up a healthy work environment at home, for example by giving guidance on how to regulate the temperature. 

“In the end, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain his or her workplace in a condition in which he or she can perform his or her work without the threat of health impairments,” Brecklinghaus explained.

What can home office workers do in hot weather?

There are plenty of ways to keep flats cooler in the summer months, including purchasing your own fan, keeping curtains or blinds drawn and ventilating the rooms in the evening or early morning when the weather is cooler.

However, if heat is really becoming a problem, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your employer. This is especially important if you have a health condition that makes it more dangerous to work in hot weather. 

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate for the employer to pay for the purchase of a fan or mobile air conditioner as goodwill gesture. If possible, you could also arrange to travel to the office where the temperature should be better regulated.

Another option for early birds or night owls is to arrange more flexible working hours so you can avoid sweltering at your desk in the midday sun, although this of course depends on operational factors. 

READ ASO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?