In a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice, travel time is now considered work time for those workers with no fixed office. The implications of this judgement are far reaching and employers who hire workers that have no fixed work place are now left wondering how they will be affected by this decision.
The ruling came about as a result of a legal case in Spain involving a company called Tyco, which installs security systems. Tyco closed down its regional offices back in 2011 which meant that many of the employees had to travel considerable distances before arriving at their first appointment. This was deemed unfair because this was imposed on the workers who had no choice in the matter. Their working day would normally have started when they reached the regional office but because the office didn’t exist anymore, the European Court has ruled that their working day now starts when they embark on their journey to their first appointment.
Millions of workers in professions such as care work, sales reps and gas fitters could be affected by this ruling. Historically, their journey to their first appointment wouldn’t have been classed as work time. However it now is, so as far as employers are concerned, they will have a lot to think about in terms of planning employee work schedules to ensure that they are not in breach of EU working time regulations.
One of the main goals of the working time directive is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week. The new rules on travel time being work time is going to put a lot of strain on this and it will be interesting to see how employers react to this change and what plans they will implement to manage the situation.