When travelling becomes work – EU rules on grey area

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has said that the time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers who do not have a fixed place of work should be regarded as working time and that employees should be paid.

It comes after workers from the Spanish firm Tyco Integrated Security brought their company before a court in their home country arguing that they should be paid for their travel time to and from work.

The court heard that staff at the business were provided with a company vehicle and a work schedule and travelled to different customers’ premises every day. Their employer argued that for working time purposes, the time they spent going from their homes to their first job, and from their last job back to their homes, was not working time. The Spanish courts referred the issue to the CJEU and following a hearing, the Court has given a preliminary ruling.

They found that employees’ time spent travelling to the first job and to their homes after the last job was working time for the purposes of the working time rules, adding that the test should be whether, at a particular time, the employees were:

  • at the workplace
  • at the disposal of the employer
  • carrying out activities or duties of their job

Lara Murray, an employment law specialist at Palmers, said: “With more time being counted as work, that’s more for which employees are entitled to be paid. Furthermore, there is also a risk that some workers might be exceeding the 48-hour limit on the working week. This is an issue that I have spoken about on BBC Radio Essex and it is something that will affect mobile workers such as carers, technicians, and sales people.

“If you would like more information about how you could be affected by this new ruling, or you have questions about any other employment law issue, please contact us.”