When can travelling time to and from work become working time?
Posted on 10th September 2015 at 10:44
Do you employ staff without a fixed workplace, whose duties involve attendance at customer sites that vary from day to day – care workers, heating engineers, sales reps and so on?
Have you always taken it as read that they will begin their working day at the customer’s site and arrive on time to do so, and will not have any right to claim pay for their travelling time to and from their home address? Were you safe in the assumption that it was never going to occur to them to contend that their daily commute should count as part of their working day, when it would have been absurd for your office based staff to do so?
It may be time to think again.
Today’s decision of the European Court of Justice in the gloriously named Federacion de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL, which will hopefully be abbreviated to Tyco or TIS when cited from now on, has made it clear that for workers without a fixed or habitual place of work, time spent travelling between their homes and the premises of their first and last customer counts as “working time” under the EU’s Working Time Directive.
How come? Well, in the ECJ’s view, the journeys of such peripatetic workers are an integral part of their role, and a necessary means of providing their services to their customers. In this particular case, because the employer determined all of the appointment times and their order, the workers were deemed not to be free to use their time as they pleased, and so were at their employer’s disposal.
Leaving political reaction firmly on one side, there is at least some comfort for employers now faced with the need to pay ten extra hours’ worth of working time per week per peripatetic employee. Remuneration is left as a national law issue. So in theory at least, this travelling time can be paid at a lesser rate. But only as long as the employer complied with the national minimum wage regulations, when all of the relevant time was averaged out. And as long as the 48 hour week provisions were properly addressed too.
Are you concerned about how you can stay on the right side of the law, in the face of this decision? Let us know if we can help.
Tagged as: Solicitor
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