Employers who employ workers who have to travel to appointments throughout the day will now need to take account of a new ruling of the European Court of Justice, made on 10th September 2015.
The case, Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco Integrated Security SL and another (c-266/14), involves a Spanish-based company whose technician workers travel in company vehicles to appointments across Spain.
The company does not treat the workers’ first journey, from their home to their first appointment or their journey home (from their last appointment to their home) as “working time” under the Working Time Directive and instead treats it as “rest time”. Following a claim by the technicians to the Spanish Courts, who referred it to the ECJ, it has now been declared that for workers without a fixed base, time spent travelling from and to their home at the beginning and end of each day constitutes “working time”.
This means that UK employers will have to start treating such travel time as working time. This creates a number of difficult legal and commercial issues for employers:
- Treating travel time as working time may push workers’ overall working time over the 48 hours weekly working limit. Employers should therefore ensure that any mobile workers sign an opt out of the 48 hour maximum week to stay compliant with the law.
- Consideration will have to be given as to whether mobile workers are being given the minimum amount of “resting time”, given that travel time will no longer be deemed to be resting time. Employers will have to therefore review their working practices to ensure that workers are being given the minimum amount of rest breaks and resting time between shifts.
- Given that travel time is now working time, employers will require to pay employees for this. Employers can choose the rate of pay but need to ensure that workers are being paid at least the minimum wage. This is likely to add a significant burden to an employer’s payroll bill, particularly those in industries with low-paid staff.
- Employers will also have to consider holiday pay to ensure that it reflects all “normal” remuneration. Therefore, if employers have to pay workers more in order to factor in travel time, holiday is likely to have to mirror this.
The ECJ is ruling is likely to have a significant impact on businesses which rely on mobile workers such as the care sector, sales and field engineers. Such employers should now review their working practices and employee contracts to see if anything needs to change and whether the impact of the new ruling can be mitigated.
If you employ mobile workers, please get in touch for a no obligation discussion.