Mobile Workers

Travelling time

A recent decision of the European Court of Justice (Federacion de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras v. Tyco Integrated Security SL) has confirmed that in the case of mobile workers who do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, time spent travelling each day between their home and the premises of their first and last customer will be working time for the purposes of the Working Time Directive.

Broadly the facts of this case were that each day two Spanish Security Technicians travelled from their home to their first customer’s premises and then at the end of the day they travelled from their last customer’s premises direct to their home.   The distances between their home and the customers were often substantial.  The Court found this time spent travelling was working time.

Although this is a case from the European Court of Justice, English employers need to be aware of this as the UK Courts and Tribunals are obliged to interpret the Working Time Regulations 1998 in a way which is consistent with the European Working Time Directive. It is therefore very likely the UK Courts will follow this decision.

Businesses most likely to be affected by this decision are those who employ workers who have no fixed base e.g. engineers employed to carry out repairs or maintenance at customers’ premises, carers who provide care at customers’ homes or those who have a mobile sales workforce.

Employers should now check to ensure that once travel time to and from the worker’s home and the first and last customer of the day is taken into account, that their mobile workers are not working in excess of the 48 hour weekly limit (or they have opted out of that limit) and that they are being given the appropriate rest breaks in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.

This case may not be the last we will hear on this subject. Employees may now seek to argue that their pay should be increased to include the working time they spend travelling from home to the first customer of the day and then their return journey from the last customer of the day to their home.

For more information on how this case impacts on your business please contact Jacqueline Penfold on 01323 727321.