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Travel time to first job of the day ‘counts as working time’

Posted: 15th July 2015   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

The time that workers who don’t have a fixed workplace spend travelling from home to their first job of the day counts as work time, according to the European Union’s Advocate General.

The same principle applies to the time spent travelling back home after the last job of the day.

The issue arose out of a case involving engineers at a security company in Spain. The company closed its regional offices and asked workers to travel from home to their allocated jobs in different locations. It said travel time to the first job of the day and back from last one should be considered as rest time. The engineers argued that it was work time.

Advocate General Yves Bot was asked to give an opinion in light of the relevant EU Directive, 2003/88/EC.

M. Bot said the purpose of the Directive was to ensure that health and safety measures were maintained by providing workers with sufficient rest time to enable them to perform their tasks safely. He said that ‘work hours’ and ‘rest hours’ were mutually exclusive terms and there should be no grey areas in between because that could undermine health and safety.

He identified three key elements to define “working time”. The first was being at the workplace, the second was being at the disposal of the employer and the third was being engaged in work duties.

Peripatetic workers who had no fixed base and had to travel to different jobs in different locations fulfilled all three criteria.

This was because travel was an unavoidable part of the job and the routes and destinations were determined by the employer who could change them at any time.

M. Bot said he saw no distinction between the time spent travelling between jobs and the time spent travelling to the first job or away from the last job.

The European Court of Justice will provide the final ruling on the issue. It is not bound by the Advocate General’s recommendations but usually follows them closely.

Please contact John Carter if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.