European Court of Justice rules travel time is ‘working time’

Posted in Employment

In a decision published earlier this week, the European Court of Justice has ruled that time spent travelling to and from appointments by workers at the start and end of each day should be regarded as ‘working time’.

The decision will affect workers who do not have a fixed workplace, meaning thousands of employers could be in breach of working time legislation. Organisations that employ sales representatives, care workers and gas fitters are likely to be amongst those affected.

When the additional ‘working time’ is taken into consideration, employers may find that pay falls below the National Minimum Wage hourly rate.

The ruling came about in a recent case involving Tyco Integrated Security. Tyco employ technicians to install and maintain security equipment in homes, commercial and industrial locations within specific geographical areas. The technicians travel between customers as designated by Tyco. Tyco closed their regional offices in 2011, but prior to this, Tyco would calculate the technicians working time from when they arrived at the office to pick up the company vehicle, to when they arrived back at the office at the end of the day to drop off the vehicle. Subsequent to the office closure, the technicians use a company vehicle to travel straight from their homes direct to customers, and then return home at the end of the day. Tyco refused to regard the first or last journey as working time.

The ECJ have ruled that not taking those journeys into account would mean Tyco could claim that only the time spent actually installing and maintaining security systems was within the concept of ‘working time’, and that this would jeopardise the health and safety of its workers.

The ruling means that thousands of employers will need to make changes, such as ensuring assignments are closer to workers’ homes, adjusting working hours (or asking more workers to opt out of the working time directive’s 48-hour working week) and reviewing hourly rates of pay.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment department.

Myerson Solicitors LLP are premier employment solicitors in Cheshire and Manchester.  Our expert solicitors advise on all aspects of employment law, including tribunal claims, TUPE transfers, contracts of employment and settlement agreements.  We also provide extensive support to HR departments and professionals on the full range of employment matters.

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