Time Spent Travelling = Time Spent Working?

 25 November 2015

On Thursday 10 September 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down a decision which has since attracted a great deal of media coverage.

The ECJ has decided that, for the purposes of the European Working Time Directive, for workers who do not have a fixed place of work, time spent travelling to and from home does constitute ‘working time’.

The consideration for this decision is that the workers are both carrying out their duties for their employer and are at their employer’s disposal throughout the whole of the journey. For workers who have no fixed place of work, such travel is an integral part of their duties.

This decision will need to be taken into account by employers to ensure compliance with the Working Time Regulations. This is both in relation to the right to rest breaks and the 48 hour weekly working time limit (although an opt-out agreement may be signed in respect of the 48 hour limit).

However, the ECJ was careful to distinguish between time spent travelling as ‘working time’ for the purposes of the Working Time Directive, and the right to be paid, which is a matter for national law

In light of the above, should you have employees with a non-fixed workplace, it may be sensible to review your contracts of employment and incorporate a provision which clearly states that workers who do not have a fixed place of work do not qualify for any overtime for time spent travelling between home and their non-fixed workplace, even if it is in excess of their normal working hours.

Many media outlets are reporting that this decision will end up costing British employers large amounts of money. At Alpha, we can ensure that your contracts don’t end up hitting you in the pocket. If you would like us to review your contracts, please feel free to contact us.

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