The Attorney General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that time spent travelling to and from home by employees without a fixed working base should be deemed ‘working time’. The ruling will affect those workers without a fixed contractual place of work i.e. mobile workers who schedule visits with customers or clients and do not go into an office or permanently work from home. Workers which may fall into this group include care workers, gas fitters and sales reps.
The decision relates to a case – Federacion de Servicios Privados v Tyco Integrated Security – concerning staff at a Spanish security systems installation company who had counted the time spent travelling between home and customers as ‘rest periods’ rather than working time.
Since the ruling covers the EU’s Working Time Directive, it will impact UK employers. However, the Regulations currently do not specify whether travel to and from a fixed place of work or between places of work should be considered as working time. Non–statutory guidance suggests that time spent travelling for workers who have to travel as part of their job is included in working time, but that normal travel to and from work, and travelling outside normal working hours is not.
Advice for all employers is to check that all employees have sufficient rest periods and are not breaching the maximum average weekly working hours under the Working Time Regulations. For those with mobile workers, working hours should now include time spent travelling from their home to their first and last client of the day. Ensuring that employees are opted out of this will provide some protection for employers.