11th November 2015

On The Road Again: Travelling Time for Mobile Workers

A recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling has held that travelling time from home to customers is working time for the purposes of EU legislation.

What were the facts of the case?

The employer, Tyco Integrated Security, installed and maintained security systems using technicians who were employed to work in various provinces in Spain.  In 2011, Tyco closed its regional offices and only maintained its head office in Madrid.  The technicians worked from home using a company supplied vehicle to attend customers where they worked on site.  The technicians raised a claim that the first journey of their day (from home to the first customer) should have been treated as working time for the purposes of the EU Working Time Directive.

What did the CJEU determine?

The CJEU determined that, in the case of workers who do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, time spent travelling each day between their homes and the premises of their first and last customers should qualify as working time.  This ruling however only currently affects the definition of working time in the case of workers who are not assigned to a fixed or habitual place of work.  Such workers could include care workers, salesmen, electricians and gas fitters.

Why should employers care?

Employers should be aware that this ruling means that UK courts and tribunals are required to interpret UK legislation in a way which is consistent with the European Directive.  These regulations regulate rest periods, rest breaks and minimum periods of paid holiday.  Employers should ensure that they are counting travelling time as working time for the purposes of these concepts.

Does this mean that some workers will be entitled to get paid for travelling time?

No.  This ruling only affects the definition of working time under the Working Time Regulations (which do not govern pay).  The National Minimum Wage Regulations cover pay.  Since national minimum wage is a UK right, as opposed to a European right, this ruling should not affect pay for travelling time.

What should employers do in response to this ruling?

  1. Employers should assess whether or not they employ any workers who fall within the definition of mobile workers.
  2. If they do, employers should immediately review their mobile workers’ contracts, with specific regard to references to pay and hours of work.
  3. Employers should also scrutinise workers’ working time patterns and ensure that any “mobile workers” are either not exceeding the 48 hour limit or have signed a Working Time Regulations Opt-Out. Mobile workers’ rest periods and rest breaks should also be reviewed.

If in doubt, take advice now.

Simon Allison
Partner & Head of Employment Law

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