What are the current requirements for workplace lighting in the UK?

Every specification professional involved with selecting lighting for commercial buildings would have come across the office lighting regulations, guidelines and lighting standards at some stage in their career. Most UK Building Regulations have some core elements valid for the whole of the UK, but there are now versions just for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. In these pages, we will focus on guides, regulations and lighting standards relating to the commercial office fitout in the UK and most importantly, the lux levels required for office spaces.


Regulations  -  Guides  -  Standards

RoHS  -  BS 5266  -  BS EN 1838  -  Part L  -  BS EN 12464  -  SLL Code

SLL Handbook  -  BCO  -  LG7  -  HSG 38  -  WELL  -  BREEAM


The European Commission under the RoHS Directive 2022

The sale of halogen lamps was banned in the UK from September 2021. Following this ban, the European Commission has introduced 12 regulations under the RoHS Directive effectively banning fluorescent lighting for sale in the EU by 1st September 2023. This ban will provide crucial support to a global effort to phase-out fluorescents under the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Grants are available to make the change from fluorescent to LED fittings.

BS 5266-1: 2016 - Code of Practice for the Emergency Lighting of Premises

Published by BSI, it came into effect in May 2016 and it is intended to be used in conjunction with BS EN 1838 and BS EN 50172. It is a legal requirement to prove that your building complies with this regulation. The standard provides guidance on emergency lighting requirements for offices; design and installation, responsibility, minimum duration and response times. It also gives requirements for minimum to maximum ratio of illuminance, and disability glare and colour.

BS EN 50172:2004 & BS 5266-8:2004

This dual numbered standard specifies requirements for emergency lighting in building such as offices and buildings open to public.

These standards specify the minimum requirements of emergency lighting based on the size, type and usage of the relevant premises. It also give best practice recommendation on the testing and servicing of emergency lighting systems.

BS EN 1838 : 2013 - Lighting Applications - Emergency Lighting

BS EN 1838 is the UK implementation of the European Standard EN 1838:2013. It specifies the guidelines for emergency escape lighting and standby lighting systems installed in premises or locations where such systems are required. Listing all types of emergency lights, the standard outlines light recommendations for appropriate visual conditions and direction finding on all escape routes.

Building Regulations - PART L, Volume 2: 2022

Changes to Part L came into force on 15th June 2022 in the form of two approved documents. There are higher performance targets for CO2 emissions that are reduced by 31% for dwellings and 27% for other buildings compared to the 2013 edition of the regulations. These are an interim step towards the Future Buildings Standard that will arrive in 2025. Part L now consists of 2 parts: Volume 1: Dwellings and Volume 2 - Buildings other than dwellings. 

Lighting Standards and Guides.

BS EN 12464-1 : 2021 Light and lighting - Lighting of work places - Part 1: Indoor work places

The most important guide for lighting in the workplace just had a first update in over a decade. The European Standard EN12464-1:2021 was approved in May 2021 by CEN (European Committee for Standardisation). The British Standard BS EN12464-1:2021 is the British implementation of the standard, published by BSI. It supersedes the EN12464-1:2011, which is now withdrawn. 

SLL Code for Lighting 2022

The latest CIBSE lighting guide is the update of the 2012 guide. It reflects the rapid development in lighting technologies and research around the non-visual effects of LED light. It also addresses the potential of artificial lighting to disrupt and/or support human circadian rhythms. The CIBSE Code for lighting sits alongside the SLL Lighting Handbook, which is more aligned to project-based lighting design, technology and applications.

BCO Guide to Specification 2023

The most recognised publication on specifying office space, the BCO Guide to Specification published in 2019 has been updated in February 2023. The update is calling for adoption of single occupancy density criterion,  whilst raising targets for operational and embodied carbon use and increased levels of energy efficiency in lighting installations. A new criterion for the overall lighting installation performance (in lumens per circuit watt) has been added. 

SLL Lighting Handbook 2018

The SLL Code’s sister publication, the SLL Handbook compliments the SLL Code for Lighting. The edition has been rewritten and expanded giving further information on lighting design, technology, daylight and coordination with other services. It is intended to act as a first point of reference in the specifiers day to day work.

BCO Guide to Lighting 2013

The British Council for Offices (BCO) is the leading forum for the discussion and debate of all issues around the office sector. The 2013 Guide to Lighting aims to provide best practices and professional advice on how to specify good office lighting. It recognises the fast pace and dramatic changes the world of lighting is going through. The main message is to use daylight effectively and use artificial lighting only where and when required in order to reduce the amount of energy consumed by lighting.

Lighting Guide 07: Office Lighting 2023

The latest version of the LG7 Office lighting guide was published in 2023 by The Society of Light and Lighting. It acknowledges the flexible nature of work with the arrival of portable technology and the new definition of workplace in the post-covid world. The guide also provides guidance for lighting designers and those wishing to set up a comfortable and productive work environment when working away from an office. For a summary of the main changes in the 2023 update, take a look at our blogpost.

HSG 38 Lighting at Work

This guidance explains how lighting contributes to the health and safety of people at work. Aimed at employers and safety personnel, the HSG38 guide is setting the minimum lighting requirements for health and safety in the workplace. Both interior and exterior lighting need to achieve a reasonable uniform illuminance ( following the CIBSE Code for Lighting). 


WELL Standard V.2 - 2022

The internationally recognised WELL standard is the  first certification in the world that focuses on human’s health and wellbeing. It is a voluntary certification and consists of 10 concepts. Each concept consists of features with distinct health intents. Features are either preconditions or optimisations. The Light concept is made of 8 features in total. First two - Lighting Exposure and Visual Lighting Design are preconditions.

Experienced lighting consultancy is key for achieving the WELL Standard Certification.

BREEAM UK NC V.6 - 2022

BREEAM is the world’s leading science-based certification system for a sustainable built environment. It is the dominant assessment method for the UK where whole building projects are being considered.

Learn more about Workplace Lighting Design with our CPD.

A comprehensive guide to workplace lighting design packaged neatly into a one hour slot? Sounds too good to be true, but it's not. Our Workplace Lighting Design CPD is accredited by CIBSE and The CPD Accreditation Service, and includes everything you need to know about the subject.

Looking for some expert advice? Book a consultation with one of our experienced Lighting Engineers.