The European Court of Justice ruled that people who travel to and from work appointments are to be considered as ‘working’. In essence, travelling to work is work. This ruling impacts on those workers who work at different locations throughout their working day.
The implication is that for some workers, an 8–hour day will include the hour or so taken to reach the first job and the hour or so to get back from the last. It has the effect of reducing the productive hours available.
The ruling is likely to have significant impact in the care industry where carers provide a service to clients in their own homes. It will also affect sectors where technicians and sales teams get instruction and leave for their first call from home. And then return to their home after the last call of the day.
The time taken to travel to and from these first and last calls are now likely to have to be considered as work time.
Many firms in the UK, and other European countries, tend not to include the journey to the first job and the journey home from the last job of the day as ‘work’. They consider that ‘work’ begins only on reaching the distant work location.
The EU’s Advocate General has determined that three criteria should be used to establish if travel time is work time. These are that the worker must be:
1) at the work place;
2) at the disposal of their employer and
3) carrying out activities or duties.
Because the employer is likely to demand that a worker needs to travel from their normal base (at home or at the company headquarters or office) to a distant work place at the start of their working day, all three criteria are met.
Under these circumstances the worker is considered to be working, if are not taking a rest break nor are they able to choose what to do with their time. So a worker is now considered to be working as soon as they start the journey to the first job – be that from an employers premises or from home if they have no normal requirement to attend the employer’s location first.
The ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruling published on 10 September 2015 raises concerns about the health & safety of workers and the amount of time they actually work. The judgement then specifies that the three criteria discussed above constitute working time. As such they should be considered working time for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations.
TimelessTime suggests that employers review the implications that this ruling has on what is currently considered working time. Where workers begin their day from home, rather than company premises, this time must now be considered working time. There is no need for immediate action but impact analysis should be done and implications understood.
This ruling means some workers will now exceed the average 48-hour working week and they will also need to be remunerated for their travel time.
You can read the ECJ judgement here.