Over the years there has been much discussion as to when travelling counts as working time and it is generally accepted that employees who travel between seeing clients during the working day are working. However, with the advent of more people working from home rather than from a specified office or other work premises it has not been clear how to treat the first and last journeys of the day – i.e. those to the first client and from the last one. This is because for those employees who work at their employer’s premises they cannot claim to be working when they are travelling to or from work. But for those who work from home, this is not so clear cut. Employers are therefore waiting for a ruling from the European Court on this matter. Already the Advocate General has said that employers must treat journeys by workers between customers or clients as working time.
While the opinion is not binding, The Advocate General made it clear that he believes that, where travel is an integral part of the job, all journeys to customers or clients count as working time.
The key factor in his opinion was whether or not the workers are “at the disposal of the employer”. He concluded that, when workers travel from home to their first customer and from the last customer to their home, the workers are not outside the scope of their employer’s management power.
This particular case relates to a claim from Spanish employees of a security systems company who were concerned that the entitlement of 11 hours of daily rest allowed under the Working Time Directive should start when they got home and finish when they set off again the next day – not when they finish with the last client and get to the first one the following day. From a health and safety perspective, it therefore looks likely to me that the Advocate General’s opinion will be followed. We will have to wait and see, but if it is, then there are implications with regards to working hours and potentially to minimum wage calculations too.
If this case is likely to affect you, please get in touch for advice.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016